Reminders

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The plan was to spend a good part of the day on my book. Having looked forward to this day off from work for a week, I mulled over phrases and thoughts from where I left off last time.

I woke up early, ready to take on the day. Sitting up to get out of bed, I took a deep breath and expanded my chest, startled to feel chest pressure and heaviness. Moving forward with usual morning things, I waited for the chest pressure to go away. And this is how the day went–waiting for chest pressure to go away.

Rarely do I have a full day like this anymore. I have figured out it seems to come during times of stress and, therefore, I try to avoid getting worked up or feeling stressed out. But, of course, in life this isn’t always possible.

Or, chest pressure comes when something really bad is going on with my heart. So my worries on Thursday were, Is it extreme pressure? Are my hands sweaty? Does my jaw hurt? Monitoring symptoms takes vigilant energy. My symptoms were relieved when I sat down and rested, so most of the day was spent resting. And being frustrated.

My brother called that evening and sensed something in my voice; he asked if I was okay. I told him I had felt crummy all day. He said he felt crummy the day before, like he was getting the flu. But with extra sleep and a new day, he felt better. “But,” he said, “I have the luxury of feeling sick and not worrying about it.”

This is the chronic part of my heart and vascular disease. Symptoms and extreme fatigue pop up, without regularity, as if to say, “Don’t forget, I’m still here.” I feel a bit sorry for myself, frustrated over the lack of energy and mental space to even work on my book. A day lost. A day sick.

These reminders come, always unwelcome, but usually with a lesson or a positive outcome. This day of rest reminded me of how grateful I am to feel well most days. More good days than bad is a good thing. And now I have plans to work on my book one day next week. Some of the thoughts and phrasing may be different, and just may be better.

Make is a good week!

 

All Heart

imageFebruary is heart health month! This past Saturday, February 1st, was “Go Red Day” at the Mall of America. This annual event kicks off the month and features a fashion show, CPR training, a casting call opportunity for women to tell their personal stories, and more. It was a great day!

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Here’s me volunteering at the American Heart Association table. Much of the heart health promotional material focuses on eating healthy and exercising. We have all heard these messages for years: eat well and exercise to be healthy. These simple messages are still true and they generally prevent about 80% of heart disease (according to AHA).

But heart disease is still the #1 killer of women.

I encourage you this month to think about your heart: the physical and emotional aspects of your heart. Although what we put in our bodies and whether or not we move our bodies are very significant factors in heart health, the other, sometimes overlooked aspect of heart health is our emotional and mental self.

What we think about controls how we feel. Positive thoughts create positive feelings. But negative thoughts and emotions, perseverating on hopelessness or helplessness over the long-term can negatively impact heart health. Chronic stress from negative thoughts and feelings can deplete the body’s ability to make hormones related to happiness. This can lead to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and digestive disorders to name a few.

This Friday is National Wear Red Day. Wear red in honor of your heart or the heart of someone you love!

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