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Archive for January, 2017

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Three years ago today, my sister-in-law snapped this picture of my husband and me. Despite having been through a very difficult two weeks, I looked perfectly healthy. But this could have been the last photo ever taken of me. Three hours later, I would have have a heart attack commonly called the Widowmaker, given that name because 90% of people who have it don’t survive.

When this picture was taken, I had no pain, but was already sweating profusely. I was clammy. Two hours later, I had what I thought was heartburn. I took antacids but it only grew worse. Lying down to sleep made it worse. I got up, still thinking it was heartburn, and ate a few crackers. I tried sleeping again but by then the pain in my chest was like a vise. I asked my husband to call an ambulance.

They arrived within minutes. By that time, I was feeling pain in my left shoulder, jaw, and arm, but my back was also in spasm, and I was sure that it was the main source of my problem. When the paramedics arrived, I was writhing in back pain and they began trying to work out the knot. It was only while in the ambulance that they suspected I was having a heart attack. And of course tests at the hospital confirmed that.

Three days later, I was stabilized and they performed an angiogram to check for blockages. Later, the nurses told me that they almost took bets among themselves as to whether or not I would need a stent. The doctor doing the procedure thought not. He was mistaken.

My LAD, the artery feeding two-thirds of my heart, was 95% blocked. I looked perfectly healthy and up to the week before, I had no idea that a problem existed. Neither did my GP.

LADIES, NEVER ASSUME THAT YOUR SYMPTOMS ARE INSIGNIFICANT, especially if they’re coming at the end of a particularly stressful period in your life.

(Women’s symptoms are often atypical. Some only experience fatigue (a month earlier, I’d nearly passed out while driving on the highway after a particularly stressful day at the hospital). Sometimes, women only experience discomfort in their back, usually between their shoulder blades).

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gothic-1629448__340Yesterday I watched a young woman on Facebook suffer ridicule because she expressed genuine fear over a number of changes that have already been mandated by the new POTUS. She was articulate and measured in her speech. She did not criticize or name call, but simply asked one woman, a life coach/mentor, for advice in dealing with the anxiety she was feeling.

The mentor spoke calmly and gently about living in the present. She reminded the young woman that more often than not, life goes on as always and our greatest fears do not come to fruition. Without addressing any of the specific concerns the young woman mentioned, she did the best she could to smooth the waters.

A dozen or so people followed the same live video, but for the most part, their responses showed no such compassion or sensitivity. Instead, they mocked her, and joked among themselves about “her whining, and about having no use for people who were as soft as fluff.” They suggested she get a “helmet” and joked with each other about their willingness to fight.

It made me feel sick. What is happening to people?

If you study conflict resolution, the first things you learn is that you must show respect for the person with the opposing view. Whether you agree with them or not, whether you understand their feelings or not, you acknowledge the sincerity of those feelings and their inherent right to have them. You do not mock them, but try to get to the bottom of what is triggering their emotions. You try to find common ground – a common cause – and that in itself helps allay their fears.

Instead, what we are often seeing on FB, and what we’ve witnessed from the top on down in the new POTUS, is a kneejerk backlash against everything that has obviously angered some people for the past eight years. Many of them, freed from what they feel are the “shackles” of political correctness, are revelling in the novelty of saying whatever they want, exactly how they want. You can hear their glee, as if it’s a game. But to most of the rest of the world, it is terrifying. And it’s opposite to the values of respect and fair communication that we thought the States have always stood for. Were we wrong?

The real fear is how far this will go, which families will implode, and which mentally unstable people will grab this mania and take this even further, possibly to dangerous places. Neither “side” is safe. The hatred and tension are palpable. People must not assume that their prayers alone will magically keep the lid on this. God listens to prayers from countries all over the world, and still, for some reason, millions suffer. Americans are no more important than the people in Aleppo. Why would they think that their prayers will be answered first?

People need to wake up and feel a little bit of rational fear in their bellies. No country is immune to self-destruction.

 

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snow-1848346_960_720Eighteen months with no writing. Eighteen months with very little talking, in fact. The words just aren’t always there when I need them.

It’s all part and parcel of fibromyalgia. Since my heart attack, I can’t rely on muscle relaxants and sleep meds as much as I did before. The result? Insomnia, very poor sleep when it finally does come, and a brain that’s not firing on all cylinders during my waking hours.

They say that your brain is like a muscle. It needs exercise. So here I am, trying to force this old brain to work a little more efficiently. It feels like I have a lot of catching up to do, like my grey matter has atrophied, but starting in 2017, I’m going to give writing another shot.

I have no choice really. If I’m lucky, I may live another twenty years, and I’d prefer to be able to still talk in full sentences when that time comes.

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

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