,February is American Heart Awareness Month. I became acutely aware of my heart 7 years ago when I experienced quite a scare. I share this experience with you now, so that you become aware of how important heart health is. It may save your life.
This is my story…
I watched the clock as I walked on the treadmill. I had intentionally scheduled the stress test for 6 am, planning to drive the hour to my office and attend a 10 am meeting.
Suddenly I found myself laying on a hospital gurney with wires connected to a multitude of spots on my body and surrounded by a cardiology team. One doctor repeatedly asked me how I felt. I didn't feel bad until one of them said, “What your heart just did could be deadly and we want to take you upstairs.”
Confused by that comment and glancing at the clock once again, I knew I needed to be finished soon or I would miss my meeting. “What is upstairs?” I asked.
The explanation came quickly, “The rhythm your heart just did can be caused by one of two things- you have blockages, or your electrical firing system is not working correctly.”
Another voice jumped in with, “The only way we can rule out blockages is by doing a heart catheterization and we need to do it now.”
I explained that I was an hour from home, I had come to the hospital alone and oh, by the way I had a 10 am meeting to get to. Once again the two doctors played tag team with their responses, telling me I needed to get my husband there and that there was little chance of them letting me leave the room with this type of deadly rhythm. It was the third time I heard that word deadly that I asked them to please stop saying it and that I indeed wanted to call my husband.
The group left me alone to make the call. One cardiologist stood guard in the doorway watching me with a look of intense concern. The minute I put the phone down the group returned. The speed at which I found myself swept upstairs into a private room with two nurses monitoring me swirled my confusion even more.
I laid there watching a different clock tick the minutes away until my husband would arrive. Feverishly clicking away on my phone, I sent emails to my staff as I typed meeting cancelations and directions for the day. I sent texts to my children telling them the situation – at least what I knew.
Then I noticed that both nurses were constantly monitoring me and the machinery I was connected to. They never took their eyes off of me or left the room. I knew this wasn’t good.
Finally, I asked one of them, “What exactly happened to me?”
She placed one hand on my arm while keeping her eyes on the machine. “You experienced VTach – Ventricular Tachycardia. For most people who do that we have to bring them back with the paddles – if we get them back. You are very lucky.”
My phone slid out of my hand.
I vaguely remember the big screen which showed the dye running through my body and the doctor saying, “There it goes… that is beautiful… not one blockage.”
The rest of the day, the follow up appointments and the new heart monitor, that I learned to wear like an accessory to my daily wardrobe, is a blurred memory.
My new “Electric Guy,” as I call him, is the Cardiologist that keeps me, my heart’s electrical system, and my crazy rhythm controlled to avoid the mysterious fainting, bouts of weakness, and blood pressure drops like I had experienced over the years.
While researching VTach, I learned a few things about exercise, staying hydrated, and avoiding stairs. Then I came across the meaning of heart. Scrolling through the many medical definitions of this magical organ that pumps blood, I stopped on this:
Heart - noun \ˈhärt\: the central or innermost part of something; thought of as the place where emotions are felt.
This is it! The heart is more than the organ that pushes blood through our bodies. I believe it is the innermost part of us. It is the place where emotions are created, felt, and shared. I believe that heart health goes much deeper than changing your diet, lowering salt intake, and counting 10,000 steps per day.
I believe the heart has the power to push not only physical blood, but the lifeblood of love, kindness, and joy through our bodies. The care and health of our heart begins with feeling these emotions in order for the heart to pump them through our bodies and out into our lives. We must learn to respect these emotions, nurture, and grow them into feelings that help our heart function to its highest capacity.
Instead of worrying, I prefer to believe my heart has an eccentric rhythm… maybe not the same as everyone else’s, but it is unique, and it is mine. In addition to the list of heart healthy ideas we have all heard about, I support its emotional health by feeding it love, joy, and kindness every chance I get!
I try not to watch the clock anymore and the most important meeting I have is one where I am kind to someone, love someone, and joyfully feed my innermost self- my heart, the place where emotions are felt.
Pennie’s Life Lesson: “The foundation for good heart health begins with expanding kindness, joy, and love in the innermost self – our own heart.”
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There is a certain magic about where I live both physically and spiritually – on the crossroads of Spirit and Brave.
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