Listen

I had a heart attack last October. Obviously a very scary event (understatement). Since then, I’ve been bent on figuring out why. I am a WHY person. I want to figure out why, seek to remedy the problem and move on with my life. I understand that I may never know why it happened;  however, this does not stop me.

A week after the event, I jokingly said my theme song is now Listen to Your Heart by Roxette. I began to notice that other women who’d had a similar event (SCAD), had eerily similar circumstances leading up to the heart attack. Basically, deep emotional stress from relational issues. This describes 2018 in a nutshell, minus the cursing.

What struck me is that while I knew it was a deeply painful year, I never felt particularly stressed. I processed my grief, anger and loss to the best of my ability, I practiced Sabbath regularly, I journaled the BLEEP out of the year, worked on my codependency and leaned on the amazing faithfulness of the Lord and my awesome community. Yet,  my body definitely knew I was under stress.

Listen

Not long ago, I read an amazing book called When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté. My basic takeaway is humans often repress emotions, particularly anger. Repressing emotions wreaks havoc on our physiology and can cause disease. It takes a toll. I started paying attention. I started listening; mainly to my body, my heart, my intuition, my spirit, my stress level.

Two quick testimonies: just this morning, I felt stress bubbling up inside me. I took a moment and just noticed the feeling. I then put my hand on where I felt the stress and spoke reassuringly to myself. “I am listening. I understand you are stressed. I hear you. I will take care of you.” Voila! In a matter of minutes, I felt the stress subside.

Another testimony is that when I start getting sick, I immediately get a sore throat. I then go into FIGHT mode to try and beat it. I usually fail, am sick for a week or more and generally feel angry with myself for having the audacity to get sick. Recently, I felt a sore throat coming on. I heard a still, small voice say “STRESS”.  Aha! I listened. I once again took a moment to listen to my throat telling me my body is stressed. I spoke gently to my throat. I rested. None of my usual gyrations because I suddenly realized all my gyrations made the sore throat worse! Guess what? I’ve beaten sickness four different times, just by listening and attending to my body. It really really works, people.

Slowly,  I am recovering the art of listening. Listening to my body, my mind, my spirit, my emotions, my heart and my intuition.  They communicate! It’s such a beautiful thing.

 

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My life didn’t flash before my eyes, my future did.

My life didn’t flash before my eyes, my future did
All the moments I’d miss
My sons’ weddings
Grand-babies
Growing old with the Bean
Running across the finish line
Dance parties with my family
ABC4Life dreams
The list goes on

I’m ready, I whispered to the One who created me
But I don’t want to leave
I love my life
I really love my life

©Megan Burmester
November 2, 2018

H E A R T attack

Last week, I had quite the adventure. An adventure I didn’t plan for nor expect in the least. I’m a healthy, forty-nine year old woman training for a marathon to celebrate her fiftieth birthday because #fiftyisnifty, right?

As I was cleaning out my fridge, I felt a strange click in my chest, then immediately felt all kinds of pressure/pain in my chest and neck. I called a nurse advice line to ask for advice, thinking it was nothing serious. The woman calmly told me to hang up, take an aspirin and call 911. WHAT THE ? Well, that escalated! The pain persisted so off I went to the ER (we drove…yes, I know what you are thinking).

ER did every test imaginable and found…nothing. All my vitals were perfect. My pain/pressure subsided so they sent me home. Weird. I felt terrible the next day but nothing like the previous night. However, I quickly felt back to normal so went about my business, thinking the pain/pressure was a fluke.

I took a few days to recover then decided to go back to my normal running routine. Bean and I woke up early to head out for our run. I felt great! I felt alive! I had a huge smile on my face and then, WHAM. I felt all kinds of pressure and pain again in my chest and neck. I called Bean and immediately, he knew. I was in bad shape. I’ll spare you the traumatic details but we drove straight to the ER again. Yes, I know. CALL 911. I’ve learned my lesson, let me tell you.

Once again, my vitals were perfect, EKG good and blood test showed nothing abnormal. I began to think I was going crazy! The pain subsided again (seriously?) yet I knew something wasn’t right. Thankfully, the ER suggested a stress test. As I arrived at the hospital, they did one more blood test (this is hours later, by the way). Voila, something was indeed going on. My troponin levels were elevated indicating cardiac issues.  Wait, what? Cardiac issues? I am healthy, relatively young (ha!) woman to have cardiac issues. This is probably why ER sent me home the first time. I didn’t fit the stereotypical patient with cardiac issues.

Lo and behold, I had a SCAD. A Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Yeah, that. Next thing I know, I am in a cath lab getting a stent. I KNOW, I AM IN SHOCK AS WELL! My artery somehow tore, healed itself with a blood clot and blocked the blood flow to my heart. As in 99% blocked. My cardiologist repaired the artery which was quite the feat as it was a “tricky” one (direct quote). Suffice to say, I had several  scary moments before the angiogram where I wondered if I was going to make it through this.

This phenomena happens to healthy women between the ages 30-50 years of age. They usually find it post-mortem. I’ll repeat that last line. THEY USUALLY FIND IT POST-MORTEM. I am lucky to be alive. In fact, I am so effing grateful to be alive, I can’t even express.

This is post-angiogram

I’ve been home one week now. I’m getting used to my new normal which is what, I don’t even know. I’m struggling with PTSD, fatigue, intermittent pain and fear of the unknown. I’m writing about this experience because I find writing to be a therapy for me. I am also writing because awareness is important. I’m writing because I am a survivor.

I’m grateful. The Lord is present with me, carrying me and meeting me. He is good no matter what happens to me.