Friday, December 30, 2011

Resolutions: To cure a broken heart

The Pagan Blog Prompt suggested a discussion of New Year's Resolutions.  I don't, as a rule, make resolutions, but since I am currently engaged in making amendments to my life for other reasons unrelated to the changing calendar year, I thought it would be good to have a look at this.

I had finished the last class of the fall semester.  Coming home after six hours of lecturing in high heels, I ran up my parents' stairs to find my father waiting for me with his iphone which has this neat little pulse-taking device.  Mine was over 150 beats a minute.  Naturally, my father was concerned.  I've been having chest pains and anxiety attacks more frequently these days.  I wake in the middle of the night in a panic and must take care to calm myself.  My heart typically beats between 100 and 111 beats a minute even when I am most calm.  My family has always called this my "squirrel heart", but joking aside, it has always been a bit of a worry to all of us.

Because my father was concerned, I made an appointment with a physician.  I told her about my symptoms and brought her information from my last doctor's visits related to this problem.  Last year I had an EKG and wore a Holter monitor.  They found no problems, but thought I had costochondritis.  Many years before I had sharp chest pains that felt a good deal as though someone was kicking me in the sternum.  When my own doctor refused to see me saying I was just too young to have a heart attack, I ended up in the emergency room.  Twice.  The first time they gave me a sedative and the second time, in a better hospital, they did a bunch of fancy-schmancy tests and found that I have mitral valve prolapse, a mostly benign condition.  MVP can be asymptomatic, but it can also manifest itself in what some call mitral valve prolapse syndrome which includes such symptoms as tachycardia, fatigue, chest pain, anxiety, and depression.

I'd almost forgotten about my mvp.  I'd taken care to avoid stimulants such as caffeine, and was not much troubled by it until last year when I found myself revisiting my doctor for chest pains, tachycardia, and an elevated blood pressure.  She did not find anything overly worrying and I let it go again until recently when my elevated heart rate and chest pains made it increasingly difficult to ignore.  My new family doctor thinks it is my anxiety, but she wants to get more information before making further suggestions.  I now have an appointment scheduled with a cardiologist who can review my history, do his own testing, and tell us what he thinks. 

Meanwhile, I have realized that I must address what ails me.  I'm not sure what the MDs will tell me, but I've often thought of it as my broken heart.  My acupuncturist has been telling me that my heart is troubled.  I can't remember her exact words, but the spiritual message I heard from her was that we needed to find a way to make my spirit feel safe enough to return to my heart.  My heart is having difficulty feeding my life with energy.  I wonder why.

When I engage in tarot, or prayer, or meditation, or this kind of free writing, I am trying to find answers.  More accurately, I am trying to find the right questions?  Is the question What is missing?  or What is wrong?  or What am I supposed to do?  or Whom do I serve?  or What is my purpose?  or How can I heal?  I just don't know and it really bothers me.  I wonder how long my heart has been telling me that there was a problem.  A long time I think given my history of anxiety and depression, but I was so focused on getting my doctorate that I always thought the problem would resolve itself when that goal was achieved.  Now the goal has been achieved for several years now and I cannot escape the fact that my hearts still feels wounded. 

I do not know what is at the root of my heartache, but I cannot wait to find that answer before I address the pain.  I'll have to at least patch it up the best I can.  To that end, I'm drinking more water and (decaf) teas to increase my blood volume.  I'm using yoga and qi gong to relax and employing my old hypnobirthing methods and breathing practices to settle myself when my heartrate runs away.  I'm taking herbs and supplements said to help with heart health, tachycardia, and high blood pressure.

My family doctor, cardiologist, chiropractor, and acupuncturist will continue to diagnose and treat me for my anxiety, stress, chest pain, and speedy heart.  They can find out why my heart hurts, but it is up to me to find out why it is broken.


Daniel Wilcox said...

Dear Hystery,

We will continue to hold you and your family in the Light.

Despite, your trials, may your new year be blessed.

Daniel Wilcox

Hystery said...

Dear Daniel,

Thank you for that. Writing and sharing my writing (even the navel-gazing, self-pitying stuff)is pretty helpful for me. I think it counteracts all that hyper-Protestantism that is my legacy.

After I wrote this, I began to think that part of my problem is that I'm trying to figure out how to be useful. Focusing on just one example, I find that when I reflect upon the times when I've felt the most satisfied with my job, it had nothing to do with my income or prestige (which are limited), and everything to do with my sense that I might have made someone's life a bit less difficult. Being useful is important to me.

Tom Smith said...

Response from a worn-out travelled neurotic. I just revisited the neurologist and he confirmed again that I am an atypical idiot (or rather I have some atypical idiopathic neurological issues.) Having had a triple bypass heart surgery and then three stents to correct the collapsed grafts I empathize with the heart dysfunction and trust that some physical answers and solutions can be attained. However, as you well state and understand, it is usually the questions that get to the heart of the matter. Two of my former high school students, one 30 years ago and the other 20 years ago have offered suggestions for my issues. It is very "comforting" (an unusual choice of words for me but it seems right at this point) to know that some of my former students still remember me well enough to offer assistance. As I told the neurologist "I am not afraid of dying as much as afraid of being a 'burden' both financially and physically due to my physical condition."
I have no answers, but remember that I, and I am sure many others, share in your search for the right questions.

Hystery said...

Dear Tom,

I'm sorry to hear that you have had to visit a neurologist. Are you doing ok?

I also have a neurological issue, although minor. I was diagnosed with it so long ago and pretty much told that as it was not really dangerous to me (although annoying) and there was not really anything they could do about it. All my doctors just ignore it so I've ignored it too. Now I'm recalling it and recognizing that my odd brain and odd heart may, as aggravating as they have been, offer me opportunities for deeper introspection. At times, I slip from introspection to navel-gazing, self-pity, and depression, but... I guess I'm trying to believe that there are good reasons for things. The idea of random chance and bad luck really bum me out.

staśa said...

Holding you tenderly.

RantWoman said...

Holding you and your trembling heart in the Light.

Thank you for sharing this. I find it a great gift sometimes to know others are also facing inchoate angst and distress in seeking.

Again, holding you in the Light