Heart Whispers – Part 5, Stupid Heart…

 

Continued from Part 4, Letting Go of the Why…

 

…So when I DO get into the why, theories arise:

 

Theory #1.

I ran an 8 mile road race the day before. Yes, of course I pushed myself, it was a race. I had trained for it and was running regularly. 

If this was the ’cause’, wouldn’t I have had this heart attack then…. During the race, or right after it??

 

Theory #2.

On Dec 10th, 2002, the love of my life, my husband of 9 years, my ‘soulmate’, the father of my 2 boys, the man I would live together with until is was 104, the person I made vows to — Told me he didn’t love me.

What?

“I don’t love you”

Ya right, heh… {but, I’m adorable…}

“I don’t love you anymore…”

What?

{silence}

Are we getting a divorce?

“No”

Oh, my god {breaking down} we are not going to be able to homeschool, are we…?

Is there someone else?

“No”

…Because if there was someone else…

“No”

…this might make some sense {fading}

But how can this be?

“I just. don’t. love. you. anymore”

But…

I don’t understand…

My heart, my faith in what it told me was smashed to smitherines. From out of nowhere, I was completely flabbergasted. To be completely honest, I’m still shocked by this. It is so incredibly hard — to type, but if I just keep going, not looking at the monitor {just look at the letters on the keyboard, Carol} then I will be able to spew it all out.

{breathe}

I left my home (Australia) for this person, I left my family, a continent, a whole friggin hemisphere!

It felt like the most natural thing in the world the easiest decision ever… It wasn’t about giving up stuff, it was about being with the man I fell in love with. I couldn’t NOT do it…

{another d e e p breath}

It broke.
My little heart just broke.
My heart lied to me {What an asshole}. This thing was not to be trusted…

 

Theory #3.

Coping as a single mum to my, then, 6 and 8 year old boys about 70% of the time (quite well, I thought). Living for a number of years below the poverty line, committed to homeschooling my lads, doing my best to provide them with everything they needed. Trying desperately to hang on to our home (the former husband helped with mortgage payments). Teaching 16 yoga classes a week, doing the odd catering gig (I’m a chef, by trade), preparing for and selling baked goods at our local Farmers’ Market.

I guess it was a lot, I dunno… I was just doing what I needed to do. 

Stress? Meh!

Theory #4.

I had a Thai Massage the night before… ?

{grasping at straws here}

Theory #5.

About 2 months prior to this, I had begun a new (potential) relationship… The day before the ‘incident’, we made-out for the 1st time.

Was my stupid, pathetic, untrustworthy heart saying ‘No’?

Maybe…

 

Stay tuned for Part 6 {I promise it will get happier}

 

 

 

 

Heart Whispers – Part 4, Letting Go of the Why

 

(to recap: On the evening of May 14, 2007, I had a heart attack while I was teaching my Monday Level 1-2 Yoga Class)

From Part 3

…Holding back tears, trying to look healthy, like this is not a big deal -for them- I moved swiftly out of ”you’re not the boss of me!!” to:

you are the experts, do what you are trained for, I am at your mercy–please make me better for my boys…

********************

I stayed in the hospital for a week. I celebrated my 41st birthday there. I had all kinds of assessment and tests done and lots of wonderful visitors, thank goodness. I couldn’t do a whole lot. They had me on slow-me-down medications and my heart hurt just to walk around. They shipped me off to Halifax (a neighbouring city) to have the ‘Dye Test’ and a possible stent put in. I was pretty excited to see the inner workings of my heart (you are awake during these procedures) but it turned out that the insertion of the catheter was too painful and they put me under.. Rats!

They saw, through this test and others, that it was a left ventricular artery that had a blockage. My cardiologist explained that the inner wall of the artery peeled away and made a flap that caused the blockage (SCAD). It turned out that the artery was too small to stent, it would’ve done more damage than good, so it remains blocked.

What we DON’T know is WHY…

After being released from the hospital, I had to go back to get the results of my cholesterol test. It had to be bad news… It was the last test to get some clarity from. My mind wrestled with conflicting ideas. Half of my mind wanted this to be the thing that caused the heart attack so it would all make sense and I could be proactive, I could DO something about that. The other half cried (in the former chef part of my brain)

“but I LOVE butter… *Sniff*…. I can’t give up butter… “

Turns out, my cardiologist said:

“I want to frame it and put it on the wall. The good (HDL) ones are high and the bad (LDL) ones are low”

So what the H. E. doublehockeysticks!

My cardiologist apologized… So sweet…

“Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection”. He told me this was ‘doctor-speak’ for we don’t know…

I asked what I could do to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, I’m all about prevention, he paused…

“Umm, well, you already do all of the things we ask our heart patients to do (exercise, meditation, healthy diet…) You don’t have ‘Heart Disease’... pause…”

“Eat salmon”

Salmon! Yes! I can do that. I love salmon. Yay!

Hunt_Ross_Kwagulth_Salmon_600_txt_550[‘Kwa-guilth Salmon’ – Northwest Coast Native Art by Ross Hunt]

You see, I needed something to do. After all of that surrender to the help around me. Feeling dependent (I consider myself, under normal circumstances, to be super independent), I needed to take charge, to get my power back. He knew I needed a thing – again, so sweet – and he gave me salmon.

I’m a person who needs to understand things. I feel like there has to be a reason for something as significant as this to happen.

It’s close to 8 years since this episode and I really don’t have any answers, but there has been a lot more research done since my ‘event’.

Don’t we always want answers?

Don’t we always want to wrap it all up in a neat little box to file away, everything resolved, understood? Being able to stand back after the fact and look at it with clarity and wisdom… “Ah yes, of course!”

It sucks not knowing and sometimes that becomes my yoga, letting go of the why.

We can spend our lives caught in the why of things. Trapped. With incredibly stubborn resilience, (yes, I’m a Taurus) we can spend so much energy, just spinning our wheels… Unable to move forward.

 

Stay tuned for Part 5…

 

Heart Whispers – Part 3, Fight and Surrender

From Part 2

…I drove off to the clinic, (DON’T EVER DO THIS!!) they checked me out and told me to get to the hospital in a neighbouring town. I called a friend and he drove me over.

They were expecting me…

At the hospital, they take the words HEART ATTACK very seriously! This is an emergency!

They asked a lot of question, assessed, took blood, monitored and I waited… They took blood to look for a protein called Troponin-I This protein is released into the bloodstream when the heart muscle cells die. They look at the amount when you first come in and then wait 8 hours to take the next sample. If there is an increase in Troponin-I in the second blood test, you have had a heart attack. This test (and bunch of other EKG’s etc) confirmed it.

Frig.

What the hell! I’m not suppose to have a heart attack. I look after my body, mind… I’m active, I meditate, I have a healthy diet – I’m a good person!

They were wanting to give me medication to slow everything down. I resisted at first; wanting to know what was in them, side effects etc. This is MY body we’re talking about. My TEMPLE, that I have taken such good care of. I have always resisted taking allopathic drugs wanting to always exhaust the most natural method of healing first…

Then my kids walked in with their Dad…boys on the ferry

Their little faces, pale and fearful… My injured little heart squeezed for them and what followed was complete surrender…

Holding back tears, trying to look healthy, like this is not a big deal -for them- I moved swiftly out of “you’re not the boss of me!!” to:

you are the experts, do what you are trained for, I am at your mercy–please make me better for my boys…

 

Stay tuned for Part 4

 

 

Heart Whispers – Part 2, Heart Attack? Me? Ya, right…

From Part 1…

I know, we talk about the importance of breath in yoga all the time, but this, was a little different…

PEI_91

After a backbend or two, twisting and forward bending, it was time for Savasana.

CORPSE pose…

I was feeling a little better and led them seamlessly through…

I always finish classes with a little gratitude, Om x2, shanti x3… Namaste. Feeling relieved that class was done. Thankful to be finding some semblance of breath and completely terrified and I wished everyone a lovely evening.

A long-time student/friend was still packing up her stuff (she always brings lots of props). She looked at my -apparently ashen- face and asked if I was OK…

I burst into tears and told her that I thought I was going to die in class (she appropriately berated me. Something along the lines of “we don’t want to come out of corpse pose to find an actual corpse on the floor!!! What were you THINKING??”). When I described my symptoms to her, (she had just been reading up on women and heart attacks). She said:

“I know this sounds crazy, but what you just described sounds like a woman having a heart attack”

Ya, right… Me? Phffftt!!

She offered to drive me home, (a 5 minute drive) I said I was feeling better and would be OK to drive. I made it home and Googled it…

Everything I read said “get to a hospital right away”, “minutes=(heart muscle)muscle loss”

I was shaking and trying not to freakout my 6 & 8 year old boys. I knew I had to get to the hospital as soon as possible… My boys’ Dad was away somewhere at a conference. I didn’t have a phone number… The clock was ticking… I had 5 minutes to get to our local clinic before it closed.

My fabulous neighbour and dear friend popped over unexpectedly during my Google search and told me that she would look after the boys… Stay all night if she needed me to and track down their Dad. (I have the most AMAZING friends!)

I drove off to the clinic, (DON’T EVER DO THIS!!) they checked me out and told me to get to the hospital in a neighbouring town. I called a friend and he drove me over.

They were expecting me…

Stay tuned for Part 3

 

 

Heart Whispers – Part 1, Myocardial-Infarctionasana

 

On the evening of May 14, 2007 I was teaching my Monday Level 1-2 Yoga Class in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. One of 15-ish I would regularly teach in a week.

I was demonstrating to my students a high lunge with the use of a block under the thigh of the back leg, allowing the block to take the weight of the leg. Once balanced, I asked my students to lift their arms up above their shoulders, close their eyes and sink deeper into the lunge. I raised my arms with my students and while their eyes were closed I felt my arms go heavy.

Heavy like no heaviness I had felt before.

Heavy and weak like I had just practiced 1,000 chaturangas.

My arms were killing me! I did not know what was going on. I could barely breathe, nausea overwhelmed me and I asked them to bring their arms down and remove the block -barely skipping a beat.   20130120-215337.jpg

This was the second side. Phewf!

With their eyes still closed I invited them to step forward into Tadasana and keeping their eyes closed, move through 5 rounds of their own variations of Sun Salutation. This happened while I writhed (wrothe?) around on the floor with intense pain in my arms, gripping in the back of my neck and tightness in my whole torso, feeling like I might die.

{I wondered how long could I keep them with their eyes closed…?}

They finished off their Sun Salutations and I gave them permission to open their eyes, tune in to take notice of how they felt after eyes closed practice. I had been teaching this for quite a while before this class and my students were very receptive to it.

It is a delightful way to practice pratyahara, draw inward and really FEEL the practice.

I asked them to partner-up and come to the wall to practice half handstand, which we also been practicing over a number of weeks, so they knew the drill. I was still laying on the floor in a partial fetal position, teaching/instructing with my voice, thankful that no one had noticed that anything different was going on in class. I was also very thankful to feel as if I could breathe a little bit.
I know, we talk about the importance of breath in yoga all the time, but this, was a little different…

Stay tuned for Part 2…