mind over matter

Isn’t it amazing how the mind works??

It’s amazing how the brain can tell your body what to do.

It’s amazing how stress can affect your body.

I am just figuring this all out. I know what you’re thinking……”didn’t you know this?” Well I did, but just didn’t realize it, until a few weeks ago. My brother K asked me in the hospital (before I had my ICD implanted), how was I going to live the rest of my life? Was I going to go back to doing the things I always did (with Dr’s permission of course) or was I going to be afraid. I promised I wouldn’t be afraid.

Easier said than done…………..

I was doing really good in the beginning.  After I healed and felt stronger, I told myself  “oh I’m going to be fine” “this isn’t so bad” “I’ll be doing all the things I did before in no time”.
Ya……right….
After my shock back in March 2012, it changed my whole perceptive on that promise. Like I said in another post. I was afraid. I was afraid of everything. It was hard to tell my mind, my body is okay and I could do things again like drive, and start running.

My first hurdle was driving. Driving was something I always had a battle with. I wasn’t like all teenagers who knew at 16 wanted their license right away. Having deaf parents made me afraid of driving. Why? Well when one of my parents would drive they would be like any parent and talk while driving. However, my parents couldn’t talk, so they would have to sign with their hands. When they would do this, they would have one hand on the steering wheel and the other signing to me. I don’t know how many times I would sign “stop signing” “watch the road”. Some days I don’t know how we ever survived the roads hahaha. You would think I’d want to drive them around instead. But nope! I was not comfortable getting my license.

I was 18 when I decided to get my learners. I had my learners for 3 years and finally got my license. When I started driving, I couldn’t believe the freedom I had! I loved it!! I remember thinking why I didn’t get it sooner? Every chance I had I would drive, whether it was just to the store or long distance. I loved driving!

I couldn’t drive for 7 months after my collapse and it was very hard losing that independence. But I did get used to having DC drive me around. It made me feel safe knowing I wouldn’t be responsible hurting anyone on the road if I was driving. When I was cleared to drive, I was so nervous. I felt like I was 18 learning all over again. I called the pacemaker clinic a few times just to confirm I could drive again. They probably thought “oh goodness it’s her again” hahaha, but I was really nervous. What if I had a therapy while driving?? The best thing the Nurse said to me was “you’re the safest person on the road, you get a 16 second warning before you receive a therapy, others don’t have any warning at all, it just happens”. I remember thinking 16 seconds?? That’s not a lot of time, but in reality it actually is. I have been driving for the last 10 months now, and I’m not going to lie, at first I had anxiety if people were driving too close to my back bumper. What if I had to slam my breaks in a hurry and they would hit me? But I realized they would  have to pay attention or hit me.

Running…….the second hurdle, just before Christmas, I was told by my doctor I could slowly start getting back into running. He said, I needed to have a heart monitor with a strap to monitor my heart rate. Also the beta-blocker I am taking my heart rate shouldn’t rise more than 150. I was so happy to hear this and was determinded to start running. So I thought I should start doing Yoga first to help the breathing. I did Yoga for three months. During that time I had researched all kinds of heart monitors. I didn’t realize how many there were and which ones I couldn’t use because some of them have magnets inside them. I decided to call St. Jude Medical (the company who made my ICD) to see what they recommended. They told me the ICD I have they tested with the Polar heart rate monitors. So I went and bought myself one.

I thought I had the breathing down pretty good, so I started to run. My first time running was so exhilarating! I did what the doctor said started off slow. I used the Couch to 5K app like I had two years ago. I was doing great! In the first two weeks of three days a week running, I decided to register for a 5K run in June. My daughter C is joining me for this run.

After the fourth week of running, I could tell the running was getting harder. The runs were getting more intense with running longer and walking shorter. It was really hard. I could feel my heart race faster, but I would check my heart rate often and it was fine. The next week I decided to go back a week and make it easier for myself but when I started to run I looked at my heart rate and it jumped to 162! It scared me! When I was controlling it between 115-130. So I stopped myself and stood to breathe and relax myself. Once I had gotten it back down I tried again but I  would constantly watch my monitor.

The next run that week I followed the run on the app but found it was still too hard. So I decided to use a timer. I decided I would run 3 mins and walk 1 min. The first time I ran the 3 min walk 1 I thought I was doing great, I was controlling my breathing and my HR(heart rate). The second time I went I noticed that my HR went to 167! I started to get nervous and tried slowing down and it was good. My third time running was not so good. My mind was already playing tricks on me. My HR jumped to 172! I stopped immediately! I sat down on the ground and started breathing in and out to have the rate slow down. It went down but I was scared to start running again so I walked the rest. The fourth time I went, I was nervous. I didn’t want my HR to go up again like last time. So I took my time on the pace and was breathing in and out. However, that day was the highest my HR went since my collapse. It went to 185! That really scared me. I stopped sat on the ground again. Being at 185 was not far away from being at 200 when I would receive a therapy. When I got my HR down I decided to walk the rest again.

I thought I should see if the heart rate monitor strap was right. Maybe it wasn’t going as high it showed. So I did a home transmission to see how right it was. I sent the transmission and got a call the next morning from the pacemaker clinic. The nurse said she had looked at my transmission was very concerned. I told her, I had started running and bought a heart strap wanted to see if it was right. Those four HR’s were right, in fact she said it was bang on! she said she needed to send it to the Doctor. Right at that moment I thought uh oh! They are going to tell me that I can’t run anymore. When the doctor called me back, he recommended I try to control my HR going no higher than 150 or I will no longer be able to run again. He suggested I start slower like walking or speed walking until I figure out how to control the breathing and HR.

Since then, which is about three weeks ago, I have tried to run and control my HR. Unfortunately it is not staying low enough. But I am determined to continue. My mind isn’t helping. I had mentioned I registered for a 5K run and it’s this Saturday. I decided I am going to do what I can, whether I run a little, most of it or walk it. As long as I am doing it and having fun, that’s the most important to me now. Telling your mind to not worry about things your body does is difficult and it’s something I have to work on.

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writes from the heart

This blog is a whole new world to me, I am so nervous about what to say. I have written in a “diary” since I was 15 yrs old and I have to say 21 yrs later, going online to write all my thoughts is a little scary. It’s scary what people are going to say or think about my thoughts, I hope to reach out to people with this blog but in a sense I am writing just for me. The title that I have chosen “writes from the heart” is perfect because it’s always from my heart and what I am feeling that particular day, week, month.

Like I said earlier, I have written in a “diary” since I was 15 yrs old (even thou I do not say “diary” anymore it is a journal now), the reason I chose to write was because I wanted to write what I had done that was important to me.

I was born to deaf parents, my mother is completely deaf and my father was considered hard of hearing, (by the way I am not deaf)  I learned sign language before I learned to talk, when I was about 2 yrs old my Grandma taught me to speak properly. Other wise if my Grandma did not teach me to speak properly I would have spoke like my father who was able to speak but not clearly.

Age 12, at a school track and field meet, I was running the 100 metre and right at the finish line I just dropped to the ground and fainted. I remember the teachers waking me and asking me if I was alright and I said “yes” and went on with my day.

Later that same day I had mentioned it to my parents that I had fainted and they said that I probably didn’t eat or drink enough, since it was spring/summer and it was a hot day. A couple months later a friend of mine discovered that I had a lump on the back of my right knee. My parents were very concerned and took me to the doctor to find out what this mysterious lump on the back of the knee was and it ended  being a “baker’s cyst” which is a buildup of joint fluid (synovial fluid) that forms behind the knee. The doctor said that there were two things I could do with it, which was either they would drain the fluid with a needle or  put me under anesthetic and remove the fluid.

Well you see at 12 yrs old I was so scared of needles that I chose to go under the anesthetic route. I know, I know you’re probably thinking “huh?’ but that’s even more needles, well yes it was but I did find out at the hospital that I has a heart murmur, and that they had to do more tests to see what it was exactly that I had, at the time my parents did not fully understand what was wrong with me, I remember my mother saying to me ” you had blue lips when you were born”.

So after all the tests they had done, I had found out that I had a Mitral regurgitation (MR), mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence is a disorder of the heart in which the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood. Doctors said that they would watch it over the years to make sure that the valve was functioning properly, but they also did say that had to be careful on what exercises I could do and know my limits, due to shortness of breath and dizziness, they also said that eventually depending on how hard the heart would pump, I may have to have surgery on the valve but also said “do not worry, it probably would not happen until you are old, like around in your 70’s” so I always kept up with my regular checkups with the Cardiologist, same thing would happen every year, “everything is good, see you next year” ……………..until 2004.

End of June 2004, was my regular check up with the Cardiologist and did all the necessary test like the EKG, Echo cardio-gram. My Cardiologist said again if you “do not hear from me in 10 days you know you are good until next year” I would say yes of course and be on my merry way. But on July 5th, My Cardiologist called me to give me the news that I was going to have open heart surgery because my heart was enlarging too much and that it was necessary to go in and operate on the valve. Well I was a basket case for 3 days straight I could not stop crying I was in real denial for the week, thinking that this isn’t that serious and that I wasn’t going thru with the surgery. The Cardiologist said  “No this is serious, that the surgery was booked on July 16, 2004”. I was so scared! Well after talking with the Doctor about the risks involved, (by not doing the surgery)  I decided that I was going to go thru with it.

I was slowly preparing myself for the consequences that I could face like not making it out of the surgery, how long I would stay alive if the surgery was not a success. So on July 13, 2004 (which was our son’s 5th birthday) I had to go in for my pre-op, what a day that was! I was such a wreck! I could not even concentrate on what the nurses were explaining that the Surgeons were going to do, I just kept on crying. Thank goodness my wonderful husband, best friend in whole world was there to console me and support me. Needless to say I did go thru the pre-op that day but was worried about the 3 days that were coming so fast.

As I was at home preparing for my surgery for the 16th, I got a phone call from the Hospital telling me that they had to postpone the surgery to the 27th!! I was mixed with different emotions when I heard this, first I was really happy thinking phew! I don’t have to deal with this tomorrow but then I was angry because, I was at the point of accepting the surgery and wanted it over.

On July 27th I ended up having my surgery, the Cardiologist told me that they would not know the extent of the damage to the valve until they went in and took a look. They told me that I had to decide on what valve to choose from, should the valve needed replacement. The two different options were a mechanical valve or a pig’s valve. After all the pros/cons of each I had decided to go with the pig’s valve. I went in that morning of the 27th not knowing what was going to happen to me and if I was going to come out alive to see my three beautiful children or my husband again.

Surgery was only 3 hr long and I did not know what they had done to my valve for 2 days, until my Cardiologist finally came to see me and I asked him what they ended up doing to me, he said that the valve was still in very good condition. They did not have to replace it and instead just repaired it with a ring in the middle to hold it together tight, the surgery was 95% successful! I was so thrilled!

So I was released from the hospital on July 30 th and from that day on, I improved each day, I got to drive again, and begin my regular routine. The Cardiologist said that I had to have my regular check ups like I did when I was a child. I have had the same Cardiologist for almost 17 yrs, when we lived in a rural town in Alberta, then in 2007 we had a change……………..