(Let me preface this whole thing with this: I’m fine. My heart is good. And I have a medical bill to prove it. But it was probably worth it.)
So one minute I’m standing at the counter, chopping vegetables for stir fry and enjoying(ish) the sound of Jake making a joyful noise with his new recorder flute and literally feeling Sam’s contentment with sorting and re-sorting his Pokémon cards. I’m slicing sweet peppers and thinking about two specific situations I have walked through recently with God’s grace and peace. Where there was chaos and confusion there is now calm and clarity. Which is not to say easy and painless, but worthy of praise for sure.
My point is I was feeling good. Like, really, really good. I was reflecting on some positive shifts happening in a relationship I don’t write about much here but it’s kind of a big deal. In my professional life, ideas for my new business, Rough Draft*, are coming to me, my novel is moving along, I’ve got a couple book signings coming up before Mother’s day and I’m getting some courage to spread the word about my book (which I hear is the best way to sell it!)
What I’m telling you is my heart was full of joy. Joy like I haven’t felt in quite some time.
So there I am with my joy and contentment** and suddenly comes this stabbing pain in my chest. And then it feels like a hand squeezing my heart like you’d ring out a towel and I’m kind of dizzy and spinny feeling.
There’s radiating pain and then pressure. Like someone is sitting on my chest. And it’s kind of hard to breath. And I’m thinking is this what a heart attack feels like? That’s ridiculous, I’m too young. Right? I’m too young? Am I not too young for things like that anymore? What. The. Hell. is this pain?
And then a headache settles in and I’m still not breathing very well and I’m thinking this is bullshit I have to sub in the morning. I have two deadlines tonight. This needs to stop.
Instead I start feeling barfy and clammy. And I put down the knife and start Googling signs of a heart attack. Check, check and check. So I call my dad, a former cardiologist who is known for treating our ailments with a swift “You’ll be fine!” Instead he said call 9-1-1 so you don’t have to wait in the waiting room.
“Look, you’re probably not having a heart attack but just in case you better go.” Then the pain came down my left arm and my fingers were tingly and numbing.
“We’re going,” said Matt.
“I’m scared it’s going to be a waste of money,” I said. But I’m crying because, you know, I’m freaked out.
“Funerals are expensive too,” he said. It was oddly comforting.
So Matt called some friends to let the boys come over for a school-night slumber party and we went to the ER. Where they quickly had me in a wheelchair, and then there were hands all over me putting stickers in all the places and then there were words like “EKG” and “Nitroglycerin” and “hold really still.”
And then there was morphine and a moment where I thought hmmm if they keep me here all night with this stuff maybe I can actually get a night of real sleep. But then the blood pressure cuff checker thing started squeezing that idea out of me and I just wanted to go home and pretend this never happened.
This story ends with the ER doctor ruling out anything “that’s going to kill you tonight” and giving me instructions to see my primary care doctor next week to start sorting through what happened.
We ruled out heartburn and a panic attack and have some ideas about what it might’ve been – some that may or may not make sense on paper.**
You know where I’m going with this, right? How things can change in a moment. One Moment. And that can be a terrifying thought, or an inspiring one.
I choose inspiring. I choose to continue walking in the truth that I am here on purpose. I choose to keep bringing my messy, praisey self and my good heart to the table.
I also choose to start taking better care of that heart because as I lay there in the hospital it was clear there were a few things I could do differently. Something about diet and exercise. So yeah, more of that.
*I know I haven’t written about it yet. Obviously I’m better at marketing other people’s awesomeness. But I can’t wait to tell you about this one. It was the biggest YES moment when it all came together in my mind. Stay tuned. I’ll catch up with myself one of these days!
**For you Jesus-y types … at bible study that morning we were talking about The Enemy. I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding that because … uh, weird. And creepy. And because I’ve experienced some weird, creepy, supernatural things I’d just as soon pretend didn’t happen. I find it interesting that this happened, the way it happened during the time that I was feeling particularly praisey. Just sayin’. Just in case, even though I’m still working through what I think about the whole devil thing, my position is this: Satan can suck it.
*** It was pointed out that I cussed in the same post as I’m talking about God stuff – yeah, I did. Because I’m still me. #workinprogress