Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Day things Changed...

I was giving a copy of this devotion from Charles Stanley last night.  It spoke volumes to my life as of today.  Here is a brief excerpt: 

                 Psalm 46:10 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” The King James Version uses the expression “be still,” indicating that our best response to disappointment is to trust in the heavenly Father.
               How humbling it is to know that as God’s children, we have a direct line of communication to our Father, even in the midst of trouble. We don’t have to respond like the world, out of a heart filled with anger, depression, or revenge. Nor do we have to fix everything in our own strength. The truth is, hardship not only forms our character but also reveals it. 
            One common response to difficult times is anger. In moments of frustration, we run the risk of making impulsive decisions that could impact the rest of our life.
            But instead of getting caught up in the emotion, we should wisely be still and trust in the One who can work everything for our good (Rom. 8:28). 
            In this world, troubles won’t vanish (John 16:33). But when storms are brewing on the horizon, buckle up and trust God to guide you through. 
Only in Him can you truly cease striving.” 

Broken Heart-mending the pieces

Sunday, August 28th, 2016 was a day that things in my life changed forever.  I just think once you have an experience that impacts your health or your way of life, you start to see things differently.

A little back story on me.  “She has such a giving, loving, caring heart.”  That is what you hear when others talk about my gifts.  I am proud of that.  I know even though there are many things I can work on, I have always prided myself in being someone who cares, loves, gives, and encourages.  My strength you see, has also been my downfall at times.

I have given more than I have, I have loved more than others may deserve, and I have sacrificed more than needed.  I share this because I am in a time of deep reflection.  In fact whenever a major event has happened in my life, I have always felt compelled to write. I don’t write often, but if my heart is full, I have no choice but to pour it out on paper.  I have written over death, loss, change, love, birth, and lessons I have learned.  Today, I am sitting here looking at the ocean, as the sun sparkles on the sea and I am writing about me.

 I felt like a spectator of my life as it was changing right before my eyes.   It was my fourth day with bouts of chest pain.  This time we had just gotten to the beach, unpacked, and walked out to the sand to start a week of special family beach time.  This trip had to be cancelled twice and we had to find a new place two days before.  I was determined this trip would happen.  We all needed to relax, and be with each other.  I was so grateful and excited for the memories we were going to make.

As we walked up to the house that evening, I begin to feel the pain in my chest I had felt the last three days.  Sharp, stinging, disorienting pain.  Of course it was acid reflux, stress, exhaustion.  I had to be overreacting.  I laid down, took deep breaths, had a nexium, and yet the pain continued.  I texted my family and friends saying what do I do?  Why won’t it stop?  I even thought I just needed to sleep.  I believe my father’s text was, “Go to the emergency room!”  Well, I didn't do that, but I did head to a late night urgent care.  I was almost embarrassed they would tell me it was nothing, and the girls and Greg had been inconvenienced and out late for nothing.

Within 30 minutes I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  I had a heart attack…I can’t hardly write that down, or say out loud.  I am 39 years old, healthy, have a regular blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and have none of the other risk factors.  

The ER Dr, the on call Dr, and nurses all kept saying. “We are sure, it is nothing, but we have to treat it like it is serious until we can prove it isn’t.”  Thank you Lord for New Hanover Memorial Hospital and their willingness to make sure they checked every potential scenario.  Every EKG, Blood Test, Nitro tablet, and Chest x-ray each left the staff with more looming concern.

Everything in my age, potential risk factors, and vitals were normal.  My EKG showed an abnormality and the blood work on my cardiac enzymes were elevated.  Those were the only two.  Praise God those were there because that is what admitted me to the hospital Sunday night, continued tests, and led to a heart ultrasound and heart catheterization.  

The Cardiologist was so sure it was a stress induced syndrome that stuns the heart, acts like a heart attack, but is actually only short term and reversible.  It is called “The Broken Heart Syndrome”.  He knew I had to wait until 6:00 pm for a Heart Catheter to be done, and since he wanted me to be released to get back to vacation, he scrubbed in and performed the procedure at 11:30 am on Monday, August 29th.  (Thank the Lord for Dr. Ellis)  Once he got in, he found 100% blockage in one of the largest arteries. (known as the widow maker)  He called in a colleague to put stents in and went out to see my family.  He was so surprised.  He could not believe he found it, but I can’t imagine where I would be today, if he had not been pre-cautious,  and fit me in to the schedule.

I did not have plaque buildup, I did not have any long term scenarios.  I was diagnosed with something called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. (SCAD)  This is a situation where due to something extremely intense with stress, pressure, hormone changes etc ,a tear is caused in an arterial wall and the blood pools and creates a blockage in the vessel.  This had to have happened within the last few days at the most.  

I have never won the lottery, but I have been blessed as one of the individuals that have experienced this.  Only 1/10th of all heart attacks are diagnosed as SCAD.

My life is different forever as a result.  I will take medicines to protect my heart, I will have to manage my stress , and activity ,and heal in more ways than one.  If you know anyone that has had this experience, than they may share that it isn’t just the physical part that is hard.  The reality, the acceptance, the fears of it happening again are just as painful of a recovery.  

I know this is much longer than most need, but know it is so important for me.  I plan to change in all the ways I need to change, and I also plan to ask for support in all the ways I may need support.  

We were never intended to walk this journey alone, privately, and without worry.  We should not ever be shamed of our vulnerabilities and needs.  We all have “stuff.”  No one has a life all figured out and simple.   I encourage you to be willing to embrace who you are today, and not what you or others think.  

God made me fragile, gentle, loving, and with a big heart.  It has been mended this week and may beat a bit differently.  I am embracing that I can’t climb every mounting, fight on the front line, or even withstand every storm on my own.  I am one that has the arms to hold those hurting, the pom poms to cheer you on, and the grace to accept you just as you are.  
  1. Lastly, I want to encourage you to take your health seriously.
  2. If you ever feel pain in your heart or brain-GO TO THE HOSPITAL/ER IMMEDIATELY!. (advice from my EMT)
  3. You don’t have to have genetics, or all the signs to have a serious situation.
  4. I felt a pain in my chest like a knife going through to my back on Thursday morning, and a burning/stinging pain behind my sternum on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
  5. Each of those days the pain went away after an hour or so.
  6. The pain wasn’t unbearable (or so I thought), so I felt I was overreacting.
  7. I tried to explain it away.
  8. Sunday the pain lasted longer and turned to a pressure/weight on my chest, but still not unbearable. I was a bit disoriented as well, but I think it was because I was becoming worried it was bigger than I thought.
  9. I wasn’t having any feelings of dizziness nausea, sweating, fever, pain in other places
  10. So at the end of the day I am telling you to, Go, to the hospital! They will take you seriously and they will be so thankful if it is indigestion, anxiety, or whatever.  Just please go….
I plan to focus on Being Still, Cease Striving, and Embrace my life and all God has given me.  I love my family, I love my dear friends, I love my home and sweet neighbors.  God has truly blessed me.  This is just my next chapter.  Thank you all for caring and supporting me.

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