Chest Pain

heart beat red

Settling into the hotel room, I anticipated traveling to Indianapolis the next day with my son through snow and ice. So maybe it was anxiety.  By 4:45, the pain in my chest was intense enough for me to check the time. It felt heavier and tighter than my usual acid reflux. My right arm didn’t feel right, but then I’d just driven five hours.

I kept thinking about the articles I’d read lately, about how heart attacks can feel like indigestion, especially in women. And that women often overlook the signs and shouldn’t.

I waited an hour and tried to relax. I stopped watching the Weather Channel. I tried to check the weather on my computer, but that didn’t help, so I put on a relaxing you tube video and used my breathing techniques. I prayed for clarification.

After an hour, the tight heaviness still sat in my chest. My face felt tingly. But it was the mild tingling in the hinges of my jaw that worried me most. Hadn’t I read about jaw pain being a sign. But that could be low blood sugar. Or that herbal supplement I took without enough food on my stomach.

I was 5 hours from home. If I called my husband he would tell me to call 911. That’s what you’re supposed to do. But I still wasn’t sure. The pain wasn’t that bad.

My son was just getting off work. I called him and asked how far the hospital was.  He said it wasn’t far, about a mile. I told him what I was feeling and that I wanted him to drive me to the hospital.

In the ER, they did a 30 second EKG, checked my BP and hooked me up to a heart monitor. They gave me a chest X ray, put in an IV in case they needed to give me something quick, and drew blood. After about twenty minutes my symptoms started to ease off. I felt guilty and embarrassed for taking ER time. I made sure to thank them for each task and service they did on my behalf. Since I hadn’t eaten dinner, I ordered a pizza at around 9PM and got my doctor and nurses to share it with me to ease my embarrassment.

My doctor was the nicest doctor I’ve ever met. His voice and demeanor were gentle and caring. He spent a lot of time explaining why we needed to do two blood tests three hours apart and about how blood tests can detect a heart attack happened even when a person had mild symptoms. He said his wife had a heart attack recently with mild symptoms and it was the second blood test that revealed the markers. He said that for women, physical weakness alone could be the only symptom.

The good doctor came back a little before midnight. The EKG was normal. Both blood tests were normal. He showed me the X Ray because he likes showing people their X rays and explaining stuff. The X Ray was normal. I could be discharged.

Now, the whole thing seems surreal, liked I dreamed it. I know I’m going to get a whopper of  bill, even with a little help from my insurance. I’m trying to forgive myself for incurring these expenses and inconveniencing people. I know I’m not supposed to think that way, but it’s been my default for so long. Here are the better thoughts I’m cultivating to help me know this was NOT a waste of anybody’s time.

  1. It’s not like I do this all the time. I’ve probably gone to the ER maybe three times in my 62 years. One time I had a miscarriage. Another time, I got 8 stitches. It’s been years since I’ve been to the ER. (Why do I feel the need to justify this, anyway?)
  2. Compassion. After an hour of chest pain plus my jaw tingling, I was afraid. Truly afraid. So I have compassion for that fear.
  3. Gratitude that I’m okay and safe, that the test results were normal and my lungs were clear,  and that I can be here writing about it.
  4. My life is valuable. I am valuable to family and friends. I am valuable to me. I have more to create, more to do. More to learn. More to love.
  5.  I’m worth it. No matter how big the bill is, a trip to the ER is not extravagant if I have unusual chest pain. The same goes for you. We are all worth it.

 

heart beat

 

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Boundary Setting for this Busy Bee

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I tend to be one of those women who do too much. Since I retired from my 30 year career, I find myself exploring new activities that keep me busy. Too busy. Why do I do that? Maybe I just have so many different interests. Someone told me I’m a Renaissance Woman. I like the sound of that, but I want to make time for the things that are most important to me and I can’t do everything.

I went to a couple of political meetings and a local tree alliance. Both worthy causes, but what about my art which I have been neglecting? Okay, so I published my book and now I need to market it, but my painting muse is jealous!

butterfly mermaid in progress

She’s been waiting in the wings, saying Hey! What about me?

I’m going to work on this by Saturday!

Almost two weeks ago, I started volunteering at a nearby elementary school helping first graders with reading and enjoyed that, but three days later I came down with a head cold that is still with me, teaching me humility after saying, “I never get sick.” It didn’t help that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, staying up late on the computer…

One good thing I did a few months ago was to get back into yoga classes. It was in yoga class that I learned the chant: From now on, I send you only love.  I said it to myself in the mirror. It felt good, especially after I stuck out my tongue and laughed with myself.  I want to keep doing yoga once a week. Plus, I’m getting back into walking and will keep swimming when the waves aren’t too rough.

But I have to be more careful about taking on new things. So, I’m going to say this again: I’m not going to take on anything new.  No new projects until the following have happened:

1.  I’ve satisfied my painting muse (and finished my butterfly mermaid)

2. September is passed.

I’m helping a friend organize an event that takes place in September which is also the month I plan to visit my son and son and granddaughter. in the mountains. I’m so excited and have to stay well for that trip which means I need to get off the computer by midnight.

If anyone asks me to do anything new, my answer will be,

“Let me think about it and get back to you.”

Even if I really want to do it, I’m going to wait before I respond, to give myself time to evaluate.

With writing, I sit a lot which has caused some problems for me. So I don’t want to add any activities that are mostly sitting. If I take on anything new, after September, it has to be something healthy, fun, and physically active that gets me off my butt!

Like this:

girl swimming thumbs up

Photo from Pixabay

 

My First Real Panic Attack at Age 61

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I needed to read Jana Greene’s post about grace and weakness.

I don’t like to feel weak. I’ve spent all these years trying to be strong and building my skills. So, why, at age 61, with all my training and experience, did i have my first real live panic attack?

I’ve heard plenty of people talk about panic attacks and how bad they can be. I’ve secretly wondered, Do people really need to go to the emergency room? Does it really feel like a heart attack? Are you really being attacked? Can’t we call it something else, something less invasive? Can’t you just take some deep breaths and calm down?

Now I know. Now, I’m humbled.

If it hadn’t been for my years of meditation and breathing practice and my supportive, former EMT husband watching me closely, I might have gone to the emergency room. My chest hurt worse than ever before, and it was hard to breathe. Years ago, I’d gone to the urgent care place with chest pain shortly after my first husband left. It turned out to be stress and acid reflux, but I don’t remember that being as intense as the pain I felt during my first real panic attack couple months ago.

Chest pain is nothing to guess about. When in doubt, get medical attention.

The first good news is, that I know what triggered it. I felt challenged, then I felt cornered and I was hungry.  Since I’m hypoglycemic, I can get shaky and irritable when I’m hungry. It’s best not to challenge me when I’m hungry. Fortunately, I can take steps to minimize exposure to these triggers. I can maintain my boundaries and use the “broken record technique” by simply repeating, “this is not a good time to talk about this.” If I’m able, I’ll offer an alternative time, but simply repeating my boundary is enough.

I’ve been trying not to feel embarrassed about feeling weak, and leaning more toward feeling humbled and gifted – the other good news – explained in Jana’s post . I’m reminded that I’m never going to have it all together, because I’m human. Some weakness will always pop up to humble me and lead me to God’s grace.

 

I Finally Don’t Care about Getting a Tan

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I spent most of the day outside today. That’s the second time this month, and I loved it like Christmas. Outside is the best place to be on a spring-like day in February when you’ve been sitting inside with the computer too long.

This afternoon, I had a revelation. After puttering around the house and yard all morning, I took my laptop into the backyard, spread a blanket under the trees, which means anywhere in my backyard urban forest, and looked for a position where I could see the computer screen. Ever since I was about 16 years old, going into the backyard with a blanket, in the daytime, meant looking for the spot with the most sun because I was trying to work on my tan. My fair, freckly skin burns easily, so spending a few minutes in the backyard would prepare me for the beach and prevent more serious burns like the sheets of blistering I’d get on my back starting around age 10 when nobody wore sunscreen. Sometimes the pre-season tan warm-ups worked, and sometimes they didn’t. As a teenager, I’d usually burn (with the help of tanning oil) and the burn would eventually turn into a tan. But the important thing, for most of my adult life, was not to be caught dead or alive on the beach in my naturally blinding-light skin.

Today, I didn’t care about tanning. When I saw the blue sky peeking through the  branches overhead, I didn’t even care much about writing. It was enough to be outside in the perfect 72 degree air with the birds singing and the bees buzzing. Tanning was the furthest thing from my mind.

What a relief not to worry about such things. I haven’t shaved my legs in months, and some days, I don’t even put on make up. On Christmas Eve, I tried to put on eye-liner for the first time in about 40 years. Of course I couldn’t put on eye-liner with my glasses on, so I did the best I could. When I put my glasses back on, it looked like I had spiders on my eyelids. Now, I wear make up when I feel like it. I’ll shave my legs when I get around to it, and I’ll probably get a little tan through the sunscreen this summer when it’s convenient. My dermatologist will be proud of me, and my skin will thank me.

Goals for 2017

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Jana Green’s post about self care inspired me to make a list of goals for the new year:, a

And Brad, at Writing to Freedom, got me thinking of them as intentions.

I’ve been sitting on this post for long enough, and it’s time to put it out there!

My plans and intentions for this year are:

1. Walk around the block or swim (not around the block) at least three times per week. Who knows? This might even lead to a little jogging!

2. Stretch for at least 10 minutes each day. Putting on some music might help.

3. Take at least five minutes every day to stop and breathe, maybe in mountain pose, before and after I stretch, and hopefully, this will turn into more time in the present moment.

4. Publish my book in 2017! I’m about to send the manuscript to my line editor, that means jumping into the rest of the process: finish the painting for the back cover, decide on how the front and back cover will fit together, get an ISBN number, change the theme on “Anything is Possible!” so it has a side bar, Work on my January Newsletter, share excerpts on both of my blogs (stay tuned!), gather a team of Trust the Timing fans through a Facebook group (email me at joannesilvia@aol if your interested – even if you’re not on Facebook.)

5. Focus most of my attention on what’s positive in people in come in contact with. I often do this with my words, but I want to do it more in my thoughts. I want to have a more loving attitude about the people who are dear to me and not nitpick about the imperfections I would like to fix in them. And hey, that includes me!

6. Develop my sense of humor. I’m getting better at laughing at myself in a loving way and I want to get better at laughing when other people irritate me, though I might laugh at them in my head, in a nice way, mostly. Stream of consciousness writing has helped me with my sense of humor, so maybe I’ll practice SOC more…. Maybe someday, I’ll create an anonymous blog just for that purpose. 🙂  Won’t that be fun!

Wishing you and all those you care for a wonderful new year!

 

 

 

 

One-Liner Wednesday: PMS After Menopause

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A photo I took at Brookgreen Gardens

 

Based on no particular research other than my experience, I am convinced that post-menopausal women have subtle hormone cycles that can cause PMS-like symptoms, even 10 years after menopause, leading to a lower tolerance for BS.

1linerwedsbadgewes

For related and not so related one-liners, visit Linda at

https://lindaghill.com/2016/11/30/one-liner-wednesday-words-to-live-by/

Here are the rules she’s made but confesses to not always follow which is fine by me:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our very cool badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!