Happy Birthday

hbballoons

This week is my birthday  and I have a couple of little celebrations planned with a few of my friends and hopefully my body will cooperate and behave so that I am able to enjoy this week.  When I think back over the past year and think of  what has transpired, it occurs to me that basically nothing has changed, for the good or for the bad.

In one sense that’s a relief, but in another it’s a disappointment.  I can’t stand feeling like I’m not moving forward.  I need to learn and I need to experience new things this year and I’ve made a promise to myself that I will not let fear motivate me to make safe or bad choices.  I need to think about making choices that excite me and that will bring me joy and not avoid situations out of fear.

Recently Jim Carrey made a commencement speech at a University and when I listened to it my whole impression of Jim Carrey changed dramatically.  This man is profound and deep and is guided by love.  His speech has replayed in my mind many times since I’ve heard it and he is right on when he says that many people’s decisions are based on fear disguised as practicality.  He also says that you can fail at what you don’t love, just as easily as you can fail at doing something you love, so choose Love.

He’s right.  While my choices are limited these days, I still do have many choices.  I want to surround myself with positive people who encourage me to continue fighting to get well and who don’t see a sick person when they speak with me and constantly point out my limitations.  I want to surround myself with people who see possibilities in life, not live in the past constantly regretting decisions made 10 years ago.  I want to surround myself with people who are kind and loving and not people that continually hurt you and place the blame on their unhappy childhood.

So when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake and make a wish, of course my first wish will be improved health for myself and continued health for my loved ones, but my next wish will be that all my decisions this year will be coming from a place of love and not a place of fear.

 

To Stress or Not to Stress

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Living with a chronic illness is difficult enough, but your body isn’t immune to getting other conditions.  Wouldn’t it be great if once we had one illness, then we didn’t have to deal with any other one.  Unfortunately things don’t work that way.

I’m not an alarmist, never have been but dealing with an illness that has constant changing symptoms makes you very in tune with your body.  At least it does me.  I have always been very intuitive and very good at reading other peoples body language and mood changes, so it’s only natural that I am also very in sync with my own.

I don’t go running to the doctor at the first sign of new symptoms but I watch them and see if they progress, change or go away.  A few weeks ago I decided it was time to go check out some symptoms that were getting worse and that had to do with my heart and breathing.

I have always had low blood pressure, but about 3 years ago (2 years into this illness) my pressure changed and while it changed to what the doctors considered “normal” it wasn’t my normal.  At the exact same time, I also started getting very strong palputations and heart flutters.  After about 6 weeks of these heart movements, I decided to find a cardiologist and have them checked out.

I had a slightly irregular EKG, but nothing that alarmed a doctor.  I also wore a halter monitor for a week and while they did see some weird activity, it wasn’t anything that warranted any medications or further tests.  I was told to deal with the palputations and come back in a year, unless my symptoms changed.  A year later the palputations were still present so I went back and this time had a sonogram, which showed some funky things going on with my left ventricle, but again was sent home to watch for changing symptoms and a yearly follow up.

Which bring us to this past month.  During the last 6 weeks, I have noticed a slight difficulty in breathing and an ache over my heart.  These 2 new symptoms caused me some concern and I decided since it was time to go back for a check up, I better do it sooner than later.  This time the doctor order a “Nuclear Cardiolite Stress Test”.

Panic set in.  I can’t walk on a treadmill, I can’t sit up in a doctor’s office for 6 hours, I can’t go without caffeine for 24 hours or without eating for 12 hours.  I”m weak to start, how can I even think about taking the test.  I made the appointment because that was what the doctor asked me to do, but in the back of my mind I knew I was going to cancel.

For the next 2 days, I was agitated and couldn’t sleep.  I really didn’t know what to do and went back and forth in my mind.  I asked the 2 closest people to me (who understood my condition) what do they think and both said that I shouldn’t do it.  But on the 3rd day, I decided I had to because the alternative was worse, “what if I really had heart problems and then had a heart attack?”

This was the first time since I’ve been ill, that I really had been faced with a medical decision about taking a complicated test.  I really had never thought about dealing with a second condition or going through a procedure that would tax my already weak and fatigued body.  It’s a scary thought that something else could be wrong and that dealing with my current illness would not be my first priority because what I am living with is a life long condition.

I hope to feel stronger and have less symptoms, but will I ever be totally free of this condition, probably not.  Do I hope to have less severe symptoms and be able to lead a normal life, yes I do.  So for now, I am happy to say that I survived the Stress Test.  It was difficult, very difficult, but the results did ease my mind.  But now, once again, I have unanswered questions and have been referred to a pulmonologist.

Why can’t anything be easy and have a solution?  I have decided to wait another while before dealing with more tests.  I’d like to try and enjoy the summer a little bit and not be sitting in doctor’s offices agonizing about lung scans and xrays and blood tests.  Just as these symptoms appeared, I am hoping they will disappear.

This experience did teach me that on day’s I think I can’t handle one more thing, I can.  Or on day’s when I am down on myself and fall in that deep hole of despair, to remind myself that things are really not the worst they could be and that I have to appreciate the current life I am trying to live.

The 3 “A”s

attentionaffectionappreciation

This morning while eating my breakfast I was listening to one of the morning news shows and Deepak Chopra came on and I started listening more intently.  Before I started on my spiritual journey and began doing daily affirmations and being more aware of the good things I still have in my life, I wouldn’t have glanced up at this man as I didn’t really believe that you could change your world by changing your thoughts.  This morning however, I was very interested in hearing what he had to say.

The anchors asked him about his thoughts on Valentine’s day and he basically said you should show people Attention, Affection and Appreciation every day of the year and not just on one day of the year.   These three things apply not only to a partner but also to family members and friends.

Attention

Attention means deep listening, being totally present. It means we’re not in a hurry to give advice, interrupt or react.

Appreciation

Appreciation means that we notice the other person’s strengths and let them know we notice them and are grateful for them.

Affection

Affection is deep caring and knowing that we are there for the other person.

So this year, let’s skip the Valentine’s day celebration and begin showing love, attention, appreciation and affection to those that mean the most to us every single day of the year (and that also include’s ourselves).