I am perfectly fine now, but I had a really interesting experience in May that I’m ready to share with you.
I began to notice that when socializing with friends, and snacks and cocktails were involved, my blood pressure would rise and my ankles would swell. I wasn’t happy about this, especially since a few months before, I started having panic attacks.
I attributed the former to the salt, alcohol, and our hot weather… and the latter to dealing with my son’s progressing illness. I was feeling overwhelmed and out of breath. Often. “Stress,” I told myself. “I just need a little time out of the frying pan,” I told myself.
So, we went to San Antonio for Memorial Day to see some friends. Close enough to be “on call,” and far enough away for a change of scenery, and opportunities to explore and relax. But my body wouldn’t relax. My ankles still swelled, I couldn’t breathe, and I felt like I was “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” all day, every day.
My body was in fight-or-flight mode, and I was exhausted from not sleeping. My shortness of breath got shorter. And even shorter. I finally acknowledged that something really was wrong, and going to an ER might be prudent. I called my doctor’s office and spoke with the triage nurse, Lisa, to tell her what I was experiencing. “Don’t go to an Urgent Care, go right to an ER,” was her advice. “Go, RIGHT NOW!”
Lesson Number 1: It’s not silly, nor is it going to be a bother to anyone for you to go to the ER thinking you may be having a heart attack. It’s what they are there for, and from my experience, they love doing it! ER docs will always tell you, “We’d rather it was nothing, and you came in… than that it was something, and you didn’t.”
Lesson Number 2: No matter how crowded the ER is when you arrive, when you approach that window hunched over, gasping for air, and tell them you are having chest pain, it’s like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy!! You are whisked away immediately into very capable hands!
Lesson Number 3: Sometimes it is NOT necessarily the outside circumstances having an impact on your feelings and your wellness. Your health and wellness, or lack there of, can have a direct impact on all of your thoughts and feelings!
There IS a Body/Mind connection, and IT DOES WORK BOTH WAYS!
In my case, the constant feeling of stress and anxiety, the “panic attacks” accompanied by shortness of breath, and the sleeplessness and nightmares, were my body’s way of telling me something wasn’t right. To please PAY ATTENTION.
Lesson Number 4: If there are things going on with your body that are different from your normal, please don’t brush it off by excusing it as “Old Age.” You know that’s just an excuse for not taking responsibility to address the problem by eating good foods, losing the weight, getting on proper medication (or getting your meds adjusted) and going out to get some exercise.
My heart is good and strong, and my kidneys are functioning well. We changed 3 meds, I have 99% cut out alcohol (the hardest thing ever, with my cocktail-centric lifestyle). I am going to the gym again; enjoying the elliptical trainer and lifting weights to fix my jiggly arms. Ernestine Shepherd would be proud of me!
I feel good again, back to my normal self. I’ve lost a couple of pounds from not drinking that one cocktail each evening, and the dark circles under my eyes are gone. I went for my follow-up with my wonderful cardiologist, and here’s her advice, and…
Lesson Number 5: We need to drink TWO quarts of water a day. Our bodies are mostly water. Our blood is mostly water. If we want to maintain great blood-pressure, to have our guts work well, and to have hydrated dewey skin… we must drink two quarts of water, girlfriends!