Just to let you know, before you start, today's post doesn't contain any cute puppy or kitty pictures, no food references and is just me being serious and sharing my heart.
I have been reading a LOT lately about other women's struggles with heart disease. And consequently thinking a lot about my own. Add to that how I really feel about being diabetic and it makes for a lot to think about. For anyone. And please, before anyone tells me to let God carry everything, I try that - every day. Some days it is easy and I lean on Him like I'm supposed to. Other days the problem is all mine and I carry it the best that I can. So please don't judge.
October 19, 2010. A day that is forever etched in my mind. I can almost relive every moment, see people's faces and hear their voices. Can it really be that in 2 days it will be 1 1/2 years behind me? Sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. Honestly. There are moments when the pain and absolute terror wash over me like it is happening all over again. I suddenly can't breath or feel a pain in my chest or have strange feelings in my arm and wonder is this it?? Is it happening again? And will this be the "big one"? There are times when I feel overwhelmed and all alone, like no one truly understands my fears and doubts. I have become quite adept at acting like everything is great and I have moved on in my life when I really want to run and hide or simply stay in bed and sleep. There are days that I do. There are times I use words like "defective" or "burden" when I talk about myself and I mean them. Sometimes that is how I see myself. Thankfully the brighter and happier days outnumber the dark and ominous days. I am so thankful for that.
I can never fully explain to anyone how I feel. Or the ever present fear I carry with me. I try but the words don't form or the tears start to and I give up. I carry it all inside. I remember a doctor telling me that at some point in my future I will have another incident. I could be 45 or 80. I know that at some point I will have the scar on my chest and the painful reminder of bypass surgery. It makes me angry and scares me at the same time. But it will happen. I am somewhat in control of when that might happen by talking to my doctors, taking my pills and watching my diet - by fighting and not giving up. That gives me SOME control. But the human body is an intricate and complicated creation and I have no way of knowing what will or will not cause my next "event". Or when it will be. Therein lies the fear.
Don't get me wrong. I do NOT live every day fearing what might happen. I have never been the fearful girl who was afraid to stay at home alone or live alone or the one that doesn't try new things. On the contrary I live my life like it is a second chance. That every day is a blessing to be thankful for. Actually, every moment. I look around me daily and am reminded that the small things are just that - small things. Why waste a precious moment being impatient because I'm standing in line? Or waste a thought on the driver who cuts me off on the way to work in the morning? I do, however, get impatient with cruelty, bullying and ignorance. Those things just don't make sense to me in any circumstance and I will never understand them. I look for the smiles and the joy that life brings and cling to them. Those moments when everything is quiet and the world actually seems at peace. They don't seem to happen as often as I would like but I enjoy each one.
There seems to be a constant battle raging around me and it is all mine. No one can fight it for me. Like bombs, there are little reminders that pop up throughout my days - and even wake me at night. Only last week I woke up screaming. Silent screams because my breath wouldn't come - but in my head they were loud and I kept wondering why no one was responding. Scary. Every time they draw blood I quietly panic and fight back tears but I also think about the wonderful ER nurse who held my hand while I trembled every time they stuck me with another needle. I hear an ambulance and I remember being scared and feeling helpless but I remember the EMT who spoke to me gently and stayed with me when I had to leave Preston behind. I hear someone talking about the "cath lab" and suddenly my body feels cold and I feel alone until I think about the nurses who talked to me and covered me with blankets and brushed my tears away. Scrambled eggs remind me of ICU and trying to eat while lying flat on my back, unable to move for 6 hours and of the sweetest nurse who hand fed me pieces of egg and tortilla and then patiently spooned oatmeal into my mouth. A pink blanket that lies folded on the couch is a reminder of the calm and gentle way Preston got me to the car and then drove me to the ER and saved my life. Little reminders....everywhere.
I would very much like to be able to pack my feelings away in a nice, neat box and put them on the shelf in the closet and forget about them. But I don't work that way. Yes, I'm thankful to be alive. Yes, I have a second chance. Yes, I'm lucky or blessed or whatever word you choose to use. But it still sucks and I struggle. It sucks to have to be very vigilant regarding my health, never truly getting a rest from it. If it isn't my heart then I'm worried about my diabetes. Or my cholesterol. Or my weight. Or my headaches. Something is always there and often one leads into another and it becomes a vicious cycle. And at some point they will start to pile on top of each other and I won't be able to face them one at a time. Or something else will happen. It's a battle of medications and trying to maintain a balance with everything. For the first time since right after my heart attack my blood sugar is back under control. My A1C is almost normal. But now my blood pressure is slightly elevated and my heart rate is too high. So for a moment there is relief and then fear sets back in and brings its friend frustration and I start over. I wait for the day when I'm whole again but I know that means leaving this earth and I'm not ready for that right now.
Before anyone yells "pity party", stop. That is not what this is. I'm not asking for pity or sympathy. It is simply me carefully thinking through how I feel in this moment about my current set of circumstances. It is an expression of true, heartfelt emotions that are sometimes raw and just beneath the surface. This is a way for me to express what I feel in a way that I hope will reach out there and touch someone who might be facing some illness that feels like an albatross around their neck. I have read different posts by so many women who are feeling the same way - and feeling that their doctors simply pat them on the head and send them along their way or throw another pill into the mix. True. No one says "hey, you're out of the hospital but the mental crap is only beginning". Nope. Often not even a warning it just appears. I don't want another "pill" to fix this - I want to get rid of some pills actually. And sometimes writing and feeling a connection with one other person might be the momentary "fix" that I need.
So I write. I pray. I hope. I cry. I scream. I fight. I persevere. I live another day.