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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Year Later

Last year, fall 2009, I was enmeshed in a health-crisis whirlwind.

I had my first "episode" at the end of August.  I was with my mom and son and we were sitting in the movie theatre on a Friday night watching the premiere of the Adam Sandler movie, Happy People.  My symptoms were:  cold sweat, heart palpitations, and dizziness.  I thought I was having a heart attack.  I made it through the movie but I prayed the entire time that I could just make it home and then I would be okay.  I convinced myself, 'maybe I'm having a mild heart attack', really?  I thought if I used the 'power' of my mind to talk myself into changing habits (like eliminating salt, going on a diet, and 'calming' myself down) that I would somehow be okay.  It worked for about two weeks until I had another 'attack'.

I was home alone, taking a shower, and the attack began.  I tried so hard to use the power of my mind to control the palpitations and intense fear.  I had visions of people finding me later in the day, naked, in the shower with the water still running.  Dead of a heart attack.  Thankfully, I was able to finish the shower and place a call to my husband.  "If you find me dead when you come home just know that I love you".  He came home less than 30 minutes later.  Again, I was able to calm myself down but subconsciously I knew at that point the gig was up.  I had to face my fear and go to the doctor to get checked out.

Friday morning, 9/11/2009, I showered, dressed, and told my husband, "please drop me off at the emergency room".  I had finally mentally prepared to face my situation head on and deal with what was going on with me.  Wake Med is known for it's cardiac care unit and as I entered and explained my symptoms I was treated swiftly and without delay.  They treated me as a cardiac-care patient.  Blood pressure (220/140), chest x-rays, ekg, and even a chest CT scan.  They had to rule out a pulmonary embolism.  I was there for a good four hours.  The diagnosis:  panic attack!? I received a referral to a cardiologist.

The following week I received the results of my CT scan in the mail.  "A 3cm right adrenal mass likely benign adenoma".  What the hell is an adenoma?  Of course that's when I ran to the computer and feverishly Googled and researched what the hell I had.  'Benign' made me think cancer.  Adenoma - tumor.  Okay, so maybe I have a benign tumor?  Then I looked up all of the adrenal diseases and their symptoms and worked myself into a frenzy.  Who wouldn't?

In the mean time, I met my cardiologist, Dr Wesley.  He is awesome, let me just say.  His manner is very calm, explanatory, and understanding.  He recommended an endocrinologist and scheduled a stress test.  My blood pressure was 212/134 and the goal was to get this under control.  He assured me this could be done once we found out how my heart looked.  I passed the stress test and my heart looked good.  Start checking off the list.

I had my first MRI (scary and expensive) and met with my endocrinologist.  Don't know if it's cancer.  They don't like to cut you open if the tumor is less than 5cm because it's too dangerous and the adrenaline surge (i.e. increase in blood pressure) could kill me.  But, I was asked to get another MRI in six months (that would be June 2010).

In the spring of 2010 at a follow up visit with Dr. Wesley my blood pressure improved and we were on the road to getting my body under control.  I did not get my MRI in June because basically, I can't afford it.  We have a crappy high deductible insurance plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($2600 per year) and any money I do have needs to go to my son's asthma medications and doctor visits.  Yes, a poor excuse but the reality of my situation (and I'm sure a lot of other Americans).

So, today, a little over a year since I first met Dr. Wesley and had my office visit I've made significant progress in controlling my blood pressure.  Today it was 130/90.  Quite a vast improvement from 220/134!  The hiccup is my weight of which I've gained 22 pounds.  Even though I've cut out salt and have amended the way I eat and move it seems that I have a new challenge.  Well, not actually new but, something fresh to 'get under control'.  Weight has been a life-long struggle but I have a fresh perspective.

I've been reading many self-improvement and non-fiction books lately to open my mind in the realm of healing through changing my thought patterns.  I believe many reasons for my physical appearance stem from the childhood experiences and emotional torture that I 've been through.  I recently read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay.  I just finished Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker.  Today I began reading Women Food and God by Geneen Roth.  I am opening myself up to the possibilities that I can promote change within myself by changing the way I think.  I am open to learning about myself, where I've come from, where I am now in my life, and where I'm heading.  I know that I am the only one responsible for me.  I will create my own happiness in this life.

I am my own business.  What I want matters.  I control my destiny.  There is power in my thoughts.  I will continue to clear the file cabinets of my mind.  To release the toxins and resentments and make room for positivity.  That is my mission at this point.  Everything else will fall in line.  I have faith in myself.