“So, what’s going on in your heart?” Wow. Talk about a loaded question. As most of you readers actually know me and love me enough to read this blog despite it’s imperfect sentence structure and Pinterest-worthy appearance, you probably know that the reason I haven’t blogged in a while is because I’ve had a bit of heart trouble.
Last week I suffered the symptoms of a heart attack as I was waking up, which progressed over the next hour. Convinced it wasn’t a panic attack or just stress, I loaded up the boys into the double stroller and we headed to the ER. That’s what women do when they think they could be dying. They load up the kids, take a minute to make extra snacks and drive themselves to the ER. Thankfully, when a young mom walks into the ER with two uninjured boys under age 3 and with gasping breaths says she is experiencing heart attack symptoms, our hospital jumps into action. The staff seemed surprised to see an actual emergency in the ER. Nice to be noticed.
The care was OUTSTANDING. My boys were also very well behaved for the three hour stay. They both flirted with reckless abandon. They took no prisoners and showed no mercy. The baby was soon passed around to all the nurses, who were happy to watch the stroller while I went into radiology and underwent tests.
Soon the cavalry arrived in the form of my Family Readiness Group friends and we returned home with a rather hazy diagnosis of inflammation along the side of my heart cavity, similar to what marathon runners have with strain. They weren’t kidding when they said motherhood is a marathon.
This week I had a follow-up, which gave much more clarity.It starts with my immune system and endurance.
This summer has been a doosie. Well, this whole year actually. It’s been about a year exactly since I learned I was carrying a baby boy with Trisomy 21. Since then, we’ve had a full deployment cycle, literally hundreds of appointments and tests for everything under the sun, a premature birth, a rough adjustment for a toddler who decided to stop talking or signing when Daddy deployed (other than “where’s Dad?”), a stressful move, 3-4 therapy or test appointments a week, a visit to Texas, two deaths in the family, and somewhere in there the usual unending loads of laundry, dishes, and “I still love you, Baby”s. Needless to say, my under-eye concealer is now Shellac. That is the short version for why my immune system broke down enough for me to catch a virus.
The “I’m not a doctor but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night” version is that the virus I caught dehydrated the sack that holds liquid between my heart and other inside squishies such as my lungs. Depleted of lubricant, my insides had friction and caused acute pain and other similar symptoms like that of a heart attack. Ladies, it’s at about a 4-6 cm dilated kind of pain.
Of course, I don’t have the ability to just stay in bed. I have two kids with extraordinary needs that only I can meet at the moment. As is the Army way, I was prescribed some Motrin. (Everything is cured with Motrin, crutches, and a pregnancy test in the Army.) I also have a few things for heartburn to alleviate any other pressure. Basically I have to drink water like a camel, keep Motrin in my system for inflammation and pain, and let it work itself out while I try to stay as healthy as possible.
How serious is it? Not a heart attack. Not fatal. Not too shabby. Like having the flu while being a mom, pretty much. I will survive but it won’t be pretty for a while. When I think of it I will shut my eyes, shudder and never want to go through it again.
The fun thing about heart problems (find the silver lining) is that the puns are awesome. I told someone with a straight face that my heart issue is not serious- just a partial eclipse of the heart. I got crickets. So sad.
I’ll avoid any “Achy Breaky” references, as I would rather my son be on a football wrecking crew than naked on a wrecking ball.
So, I am listening to my heart. (It’s calling for you.) Pat Benatar and I agree that heartbreakers shouldn’t mess around with us. Try watching a soldier say goodbye to his wife and small children repeatedly and then talk toToni Braxton about unbreaking her heart. Those three hours pushing a stroller with my foot from a hospital bed was as close to a stay in the Heartbreak Hotel as I will get for a while.
Then someone who loves me said something wonderful. “When everything is stacked against you, your heart is still in it putting up a fight. When your heart is in trouble, that’s when I know it’s bad.”
Then a friend drove down the very next night to help me. I haven’t seen her since graduation day, thanks to the US Army, but that opening the door and getting my hug made my heart soar. Then a new friend and her son came for a weekend. My son stopped hitting, started using new words, and found a friend. My heart healed a little. While I struggled to juggle errands, appointments, nap times, and meals, my dishes were almost magically done. Laundry was changed over. Floors were swept. Pictures were taken. My kids were loved. The sounds of belly laughs and giggles filled the house. My heart felt full. There’s something wonderful about three girls giggling over cheesecake.
Until the next night when it is gone.
Then there’s Bluebell…because we’re Texans.
Isn’t it remarkable how wonderful friends are for the heart? The Bible says that laughter is good medicine. VeggieTales tells us that a thankful heart is a happy heart. Today I am very thankful. The house is in a state that could warrant a FEMA notice. The fridge is looking a bit emptier. The desserts have taken a hit. Yet my heart feels better because I have been truly loved in many tangible ways.
I have a long road to hoe, as Grandma would say. In fact, I am feeling a strain on my chest worthy of water and Motrin. No heart is perfect, but mine is a little bit fuller because of the outpouring of love I’ve received from so many. Please don’t stop. You’re all good for my heart.