Life’s A Beach
I really thought I might post regularly about food. I envisioned sharing all my culinary efforts. I thought I would remember to take pictures as I cooked, making it really easy to duplicate the finished product. I imagined this helping family and friends who might want the recipes, and also helping me to remember exactly how I made somethings that we liked and would like to have again. Alas, I have fallen once more from the wagon of plans.
My fall began with the recurrence of the pesky cardiac symptom. At first, it was a random moment I thought a mere fluke. The next day, it was a few random moments. By the third day, I knew I needed a medication tune-up.
Of course, this wasn’t my initial thought. Though heart disease is never far from my current train of thinking, I can easily live and breathe within the comfort of denial. I can forget in the blink of an eye just how scary it can be. I can move seamlessly between devastation and endless hope. I can latch hold of good days as if a bad day had never happened. This redefined living in the moment I considered and consider still a tremendous gift. However, when the not so good day returns, it is a jarring fall from the grace of momentary bliss. Carpe diem can quickly turn to a not so magical ride on a carpet-of-impending-doom.
Fortunately, I had a routine appointment already scheduled with the cardiologist. I explained the sudden recurrence of angina as well as our now month-long walking expeditions.
He gently patted my hand as he drew on a scrap of paper a nonsensical graft of how exercise elevates blood pressure. He added to his graft figures of percentages of resting heart rates and resting pressure, somehow explaining that increasing either beyond a certain point pushed me logically into the land of chest pain (sweating, back pain, throat fullness, jaw pain, shortness of breath and all the other strange sensations caused by narrowed arteries and compromised blood flow).
Next, he reminded me of why I love him so. Instead of sending me to a cath lab, he suggested changing two meds, one at a time. I’d try increasing the Imdur to 90mg twice a day for a few days. I’d found the use of long acting nitrates no less than miraculous, so he humored me by suggesting this change first. I liked this choice best too because the Imdur is inexpensive, an ever-present consideration. If that didn’t relieve things, I’d double the Bystolic, the beta blocker. I was to monitor my blood pressure daily.Only if these medication changes failed would we “need to consider another cath and the possibility that there is a new blockage.”
I tried the Imdur increase and though things did improve, I was still having frequent “break-through” angina. Three days ago I doubled the Bystolic instead and finally am almost symptom free again.
Now, I’ll clarify what that means. I live within the confines of an ever-expanding field of vascular limitation. My space grows bigger, slowly, gradually but surely. I push until I experience pain. Then I rest. If the pain subsides with a few seconds, I resume whatever I was doing. I can anticipate when this will happen. I know the limits and I push them gently but frequently. If I take longer to recover, I know I pushed too far. I constantly push the limits, but not foolishly. Slowly, very slowly over these three years I’ve progressed from not being able to brush my own hair to the daily walks we were now taking.
Within these tried and true limits, I was symptom free. Only beyond these expanding walls, did I experience symptoms. The “break-through” angina that began a few weeks ago, happened far within those limits, at times when I hadn’t been experiencing symptoms at all. It happened lying in bed, watching TV, cooking. It resumed as it had before the last medication change in the fall, when I’d have episodes as often as 30 times a day.
Needless to say, blogging about dietary efforts to reverse heart disease was not my focus right then. Instead, had I blogged my real thoughts, I might have written about the anger I felt or the fear or the depression that tried to grab hold of my mind. I could have written about my fear that the recent months of feeling so much better were over forever. I can be such a fatalist. I might have instead, written my family one more set of “just in case” letters to replace the most recent stack of letters by that name I have bound with a rubber band hidden in a drawer. I might have blogged about how I might refuse another cath. One more stent? Three more? Another bypass is out of the question. They said that already. I’ve had enough radioactive material injected in me to be labeled a bio hazard.
So, instead of blogging or writing at all, I busied myself with other things. I continued to walk almost every day. The walks were shorter and I was more diligent in remembering to put the baby aspirin in my pocket, just in case. Lee and I spoke little of it. “You having a spell?” would be the only mention other than a silent taking of the blood pressure.
Two brief “spells” during the night last night were the only symptoms in twenty-four hours. The increased Bystolic seems to be working. Like the shining sun and singing birds after a storm, it is so easy to forget how scary it can be. I do love living! I have an incredible life! I am so glad it is so easy to forget. I think that’s how life is supposed to be.
Our puppy Sam is almost five months old now. She lives like that. Just this morning, I took her out and the garbage truck came down the road and stopped at our neighbor’s house just as we walked onto the grass in the front yard. It scared her. She took off up the front steps for the front door, pulling on the leash ahead of me. She ran in the house and tried to climb up Lee’s legs. Before either of us could begin to comfort her, she had forgotten the scare and was chasing Birdie around the room. The scare was past. The threat was gone. Life was good again. Life was good, still.
So, today the sun is shining. Spring has arrived early. The trees are already wearing baby leaves. The wild onions are tall in the yard. I fill the bird feeders every morning. The lake is rising, threatening to cover the sandbar that allows us access to the islands. Today though, I will walk along the shore, now stained with the yellow pollen of the pine trees, washed onto the sand by the water. Sam will dig for smelly treasure and romp and splash at the shallow edges. It is our third Spring here.
I will cook us plants to eat and day-dream of cheese. No, sesame seeds with nutritional yeast do not even come close to tasting like cheese, by the way. Does this diet help? I have no idea. I only know that today I feel good. Today, I am thriving. Whether it’s from drugs, stents, surgery, luck, plants, diet, love, grace or some predestined plan, I am grateful.