A fine lesson in what happens when you take on too much, no matter how much you think you can take
It was going to be another busy day. I woke up at four, having moved my recovery "base ops" after the fourth and final big surgery back to my bedroom. I was on the computer finishing up a story before getting ready to head out to get my foot stitches removed.
Psyched, feeling like a million bucks. Right in the middle of an article.
Taking on the world, no matter what hurt, no matter what, period.
Serious badassery, no matter how many body parts are full of stitches, in splints. I'd had four major surgeries in the last nine months, and on top of that a shattered knee cap and two very nasty ganglion cysts which had formed on both thumbs making life...um.....challenging.
My right hand has so many layers of splints and Rock Tape it's a joke:
There I was, scooter next to the desk, walker at the ready. It's all just flesh wounds.
Like that knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail:
Discomfort, then pain, spread across the center of my chest. It was deep.
I don't have heartburn.
Women's heart attacks have distinctly different markers. In seconds I was reading about heart attack symptoms. Look, I am not big on using the web to diagnose yourself, but there are certain times it makes a lot of sense to research before you call 911.
This was one of those times.
I had three symptoms. Gave them a few minutes to resolve. When they stuck around for fifteen minutes, I called 911.
Mere minutes later, this cute guy was doing an EKG while I was lying on my weight lifting bench. We women will do damned near anything to get a handsome hunk into the house, right?
Suddenly my driveway had fire trucks and a bus ready to take me to the hospital. Truth, I felt better, but by now was terrified. You would be too, if your trustworthy, dependable, uber-healthy body suddenly skewed sideways on you. At that point I had no idea what was wrong, only that if it had been a heart attack, my job was to prevent further damage immediately.
My blood pressure was sky-high. Fear does that. However by the time Kyle, my EMT, and I were on our way, I was regaling him with funny stories about previous emergencies. The next BP had plummeted back to 121/70. My pulse was under 70, both of which were a lot more like normal.
My god, the power of laughter.
I got poked for blood work, gave urine, got three EKGs in a row, an xray, more bloodwork, lots of BP readings and long discussions with a very patient ER doctor.
The bottom line is that my heart is just fine. Hale, healthy, pumping away like a champ.
The problem wasn't my heart, per se.
It was the enormous burden of stress that constant, chronic pain and all the major stresses have caused since 2018. Five years of endless procedures and events, each one of which would stand on its own as a significant wallop.
Without going into unnecessary detail, I just hit the wall. I've been trying to laugh, joke and shrug off some Very Big Things, handle them with aplomb, make fun of what pains me.
My Superwoman cape got sucked into the airplane engine.
Right now it's shredded.
Look, some part of me is always going to find the funny in everything. However, the body reads these events a bit differently. As much as I do my level best to look for what I need to learn, what the Universe is trying to teach me and I still do, my badassery simply bit the dust yesterday morning.
I have received wonderful advice from so many of you. I would say that for the most part I've already given most of those things a try, or have researched them, or have investigated them, and so far none of the available options work or are currently workable. Like owning a dog, which I dearly hope to do soon, but not until both feet are working.
Here's what I looked up in order to make my point:
From the article:
- Death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Job loss
Since 2018, I've had NINE major surgeries, a massive car accident, a move to a new state and lost my company last year.
Four major surgeries just in the last nine months, along with a shattered knee, and two vicious thumb ganglion cysts which cause me daily, debilitating pain.
I'm a hemophiliac and the cysts are inflammation. There is nothing I can take for them that doesn't set me up for a serious bleeding incident.
The body knows the score. Yesterday it threw me into the ER with what appeared to be heart attack symptoms.
That's a wall, by any measure. It wasn't my heart. That organ, happily, continues to reflect the hard work put in so far. But that can only go so far, if you'll forgive the pun.
By the time I got home I was so exhausted that I fell onto my couch and slept for two solid hours.
Projecting badassery is as bad as being a victim in this regard.
People assume you can handle anything, barring showing up with your femur poking through your leg.
To that, Megan Thee Stallion penned this for Elle Magazine:
Here's what this powerful queen had to say after her ordeal:
But my heart hurts for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help. So many times, people looked at me and thought, “You look strong. You’re outspoken. You’re tall. You don’t look like somebody who needs to be saved.” They assumed that, per preconceived stigmas, “I didn’t fit the profile of a victim,” and that I didn’t need support or protection. (author bolded)
We don't look like we need help. Like someone who needs a hug, to be cuddled, to be comforted, to be quieted and told it'll be all right. How dare we have a weak moment, a bad moment, and stop holding up the rest of the world.
I'm with her.
No, we CAN'T handle absolutely anything. Even the strongest of us have a breaking point and I found mine. I am not as strong as many but I have my muscles, both physical and emotional.
I was scared shitless yesterday.
My body is in pain all the time, but for perhaps a few hours every so often. I am so happy for those pain-free hours. I have compassion for folks in chronic pain now that I never had before. I am grateful for that, for I now understand first-hand how such things twist us into gargoyles when we cannot get relief.
This too shall pass, but it's going to take a while.
What I want you to take away is that at ANY time the body might holler STOP. By god you and I have to listen.
I could have had the real thing yesterday.
Everything I know could have come to a very sudden stop without warning. This was more scary to me than any Great White I've faced, any cliff I've leapt off, any churning whitewater I've kayaked.
I have EMTs and a fire house barely a mile away at the base of my mountain. Adam and crew were right here in seconds. Am I grateful?
Damn right. I am also grateful it was a false alarm on the heart, but it's a real alarm on the Superwoman. Am I going to get better? You betcha. These days I listen when my body has a word with me.
I got a warning. If you are on alert all the time, or like me you've been juggling a few too many physical issues and are in constant pain, this article might be worthwhile:
I am installing midweek Saturdays for a while. Reading, writing, watching a few movies and reintroducing some gentle yoga.
Lucky to be alive. Just....lucky.
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