Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tick Tock, ya don't stop

So about the title of this post...Today I had to leave work early and not for a good reason. I've recently been diagnosed with a severe arrhythmia and was experiencing shortness of breath, tightness in my chest, dizziness, etc. that made dealing with emails and phone calls and meetings and "crises" even that much more unbearable.

 For those of you who aren't up on the cardiac disorder lingo, arrhythmia basically means my heart is beating in a less than even rhythm. In my case, the heart is skipping every 5th beat, or 20% of the time on average. What that really means is that at least 6 hours of the day the beat is perfectly smooth (while I'm sleeping for instance) but other times my heart skips EVERY OTHER BEAT. Because I've already got low blood pressure, that means that sometimes my heart is only beating at 30 BPM which means I'm quite literally a zombie. Sleep-walking. And yet fully alert and often seemingly functioning quite well.

Today was not one of those days. I was functioning but quite unwell. Ug, couldn't draw in a deep breath. Had that just-before-you're-about-to-cry feeling when you try to breathe in and speak but then you just start sobbing...except I wasn't sad. I just couldn't breathe because my heart wasn't giving me enough blood to work with. Tick tock, ya don't stop heart, but damn you sure do get really damn slow. In my current state I accuse myself of making the symptoms even worse psychosomatically because I know something is wrong with me but in reality I don't feel that way at all. Let my symptoms be worse- at least I'm not going to die from this! One of the lovely things I learned from WebMD about my condition is that the first symptom many people "experience" is heart failure. As in death. It's the leading cause of death in young athletes because one minute you're sprinting down a field and the next boom- heart stops.

Before you get too concerned about me ("stop typing! Go to the hospital!) I have taken my MANY doctors' orders and scheduled a surgical procedure for May 24th to hopefully rid me of this issue semi-permanently. And why am I telling you all this? I guess it's because when you go through something like this you want everyone to know so they know that it's possible. Like those people in the say no to drugs videos saying that one day they were smoking a joint and the next thing they know they were shooting heroin... In other words, it COULD happen to you. I am by all accounts EXTREMELY psychotically healthy and yet somehow I have a heart condition that requires surgery to repair. So don't say not you, no never. Because if it could be me, it could be you too.

This is all I have the strength to type on today but God willing there will be more and hopefully more useful information and discussions. I'd like to tell you how I found out I had this problem (very randomly!), some of the symptoms I didn't realize I was ignoring, some of the triggers I should have been avoiding, and also TONS of thoughts on how to become calmer, healthier and an altogether whole person. Because really that's what is driving me. I am so happy to have this disorder because it reminded me how precious my health was. At this moment I feel that my body is a temple. I always thought that implied vanity when I heard the saying before, but now I GET IT. My body is a temple as in a holy vessel for my SELF. And I'm bowing to it. And paying homage to it. Studying it, meditating on it, breathing into it, stretching and strengthening it, giving it proper food and drink, allowing it to sleep when it is tired and even occasionally turn off entirely!

Maybe that's normal but I can tell you that I have NEVER lived like this before. Sure I've always remained fit but my motivations were almost entirely superficial. I wanted to look good, be thin "enough" and give myself the energy to push through long work days. I never actually thought about what activities (or lack thereof) would maximize my "wellness". I rarely listened to signals my body was giving me and set my daily itinerary with my brain (and my ego!) and ignored what my other body parts had to say about it. You WILL go work out at this time. You WILL stay at the office til all your work is done. You WILL live on coffee and chocolate because you can't avoid your cravings but also want to fit into your skinny jeans.

Ooooh burrrn. As an aspiring yogini it pains me to even confess those things about myself but they were all true. The real intention to care for my whole-self was always there inside of me but it was BURIED. Buried deep beneath societal pressures, professional aspirations, and borderline personal sadism. I am happy to say that today I am (or am at least on the path to becoming) a different sort of person. The sort of person who cuts herself some slack and treats her body like a loyal friend and not like a circus elephant. And it ONLY took a heart condition to get me here. Sheesh. Hopefully not everyone is as hard-headed as me. Luckily I think I am extraordinarily hard-headed. But certainly not hard-hearted...Enough with the bad heart jokes. More thoughts to come...