oops... I forgot to post this blog entry back in August, so here it is now ...
Good day fellow bloggers!
I hope this past month has been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me! I have spent the last two weeks in NY with my husband Tony and last weekend with our girls as they decided to visit their old folks. We spent two full days walking the big city, walked twice across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate on both sides... heart healthy of course! I even traveled home this month and visited Henderson Lake with plans to return next week!
I have come to enjoy and appreciate the absolute opposite attributes of NYC and northern Michigan. I so enjoy the endless restaurants, parks, theatre and hustle bustle the "Big Apple" offers. The sights and sounds are endless, all hours of the day and night. I seem to find something new every time I walk the streets, visit the parks, and enjoy the seemingly never-ending stimulus. Just when I think I am ready to move here for good…I have an ache for home, good old Royal Oak, Michigan and our northern Michigan home on Henderson Lake.
The sights and sounds of NYC are much different from those of Henderson Lake….obviously. Henderson Lake is where I have found a little slice of heaven on earth in this crazy life. It’s a place where I can hear myself think, my thoughts and internal dialog are often my company. The sounds of the night crickets, the breezes, the morning and evening songs of our Loons are music to my ears. When I get up early to kayak around the lake, I appreciate the calm of the lake; our loons spring/summer home, and usually see them teaching their baby or babies to fish or bathe. It is a beautiful sight to behold.
When I visit the Lake house, I find so much time for quiet reflection of my life’s journey, thus far. I love to read and here I devote time for it. One book I have read recently provoked me to look at my past with loving and forgiving eyes and subsequently a deeper understanding of my responsibilities and feelings of guilt I have carried for some time, in regards to my parents deaths. Through much reflection, I have truly come to the conclusion that life’s hindsight is often not 20/20. We carry with us all to often guilt and negativity from our past experiences, which are truly not of our making, our fault and quite frankly just not anything we could ever control. This has to be acknowledged, reflected on and the guilt released for us to move forward. This guilt is a form of stress, I believe and must be acknowledged, relinquished to move us into the direction of leading a heart healthy life style. My philosophy of living in one day at a time…not the past , not the future but in today has no room in it for revisiting skewed thoughts of the past... only forward bound !
I was massively affected by my parents illnesses, with Heart Disease, and subsequently their deaths, deciding early on that I could help their plight by understanding the heart by working as an echo-cardiographer in Cardiology. I could and would make a difference in the outcome of their lives, their Heart Health… I thought. I placed myself in a Heart profession, learned about their issues, knew their Doctors personally and helped them through their journey, in hopes of helping them sustain longevity; the thought of losing them early was not an option...I could not accept it. I know many of you have had to go through some of the same thoughts and experiences I have. Our parents are our world in our early years, they provide, teach, and are our rock, our support, our comfort… our people. When we have to deal with sick or aging parents at any age but particularly early ages, it is natural to have a great deal of doubt, confusion, they have been the answer to our needs and questions for so long . When dealing with this at an early age we often evolve immediately by taking on the parenting role ourselves.; how can I help them, what can I do for them, and help make this wrong they are going through a right. When we later embrace the fact that there is often very little we can do, we can then relinquish much of our earlier guilt. This is not an easy task when one is young because the tools we have are limited and our ability for self-analysis hasn’t developed yet. Having wisdom to know, that often things are what they are, is mastered in our later years, not youthful ones. Through wisdom we realize that when we file, in the lexicon of our memory, all of the bad things only to retrieve them later to beat ourselves up, this becomes unhealthy, however when one acknowledges how uncontrollable life really is, this self-destructive process is thwarted. In my case it required stopping myself from questioning every decision that I as well as they made, and to stop looking for fault or answers as to why they died so early and was there anything else I could have done? This process I found only after my heart attack and not before. I then found calm in the absence of all my angst. Life is… well life. It has its twists and turns, ups and downs, and everything in-between. Some of us are blessed with long ones and some very short. It’s just the way it is, no ones fault, and with faith, it becomes part of the bigger plan in this universe. However, even having a strong faith base, it has taken me many years to get to this awe relinquishing stage in my life that catapulted me into a world of calm and I thank God I am here now.
The years preceding my heart attack and epiphany, I had often questioned myself, as to the why’s of and the outcomes of my parents illnesses and deaths. My mother was diagnosed at the age of 39 with Congestive Heart Failure and her choice of treatment was to take only medication; no surgery for her she stated, I was only 12 then. When I started working in Cardiology 7 years had past and I was 19. I worked and attended a local university in the evenings. My mother seemed content with her quality of life for the most part, being supported by medication and several cardio-versions ( zapping her with paddles to get her out of an arrhythmia call Atrial Fibrillation). My family was very supportive of her during her illness, but I often caught myself being the only one who harped on her about her smoking, that of which she eventually quit, however not until she was near the end of her life. She also had a few surgeries during this period, one was the removal of a tumor the size of a grape fruit on and in her spleen.
I recall the morning of this scheduled surgery quite well. Dr Ingold was her Surgeon and stopped by Cardiology on his way to the OR to tell me he would come out as soon as the surgery was over to let me know how things went. I was working that day, my father and sister were up in the waiting room and I worked on the same floor that the OR was on. Shortly after he left, my mother was being brought right past my office, I started to walk by her side, assuring her that all would be fine. She was frightened …I remember this well. It was hard for me to keep my mind on work and not on my mother. An hour passed and I was confident she was in good hands through pre-op and in surgery. I called down to check on her, and as I did, I looked out my office door and she was being escorted back to her room while weeping. As I jogged to her side she babbled “I don’t know what the hell they’re doing”. Well , if I hadn’t been so perplexed myself, I may have found some humor in the expletives she was uncontrollably verbalizing . I walked by her side to her room, where I spoke to her Doctor. Dr Ingold assured me that her surgery would be rescheduled when her potassium level was brought up to normal limits. She had the surgery two days later, the tumor benign…thank you God. This same scenario happened again for her a few years later, but this time it was her coumadin levels were off and surgery was postponed again.
One of the reasons I share my little stories in hopes that someone with similar experiences can gain either insight or solace knowing there is someone that understands. Another is that I find it quite cathartic. I also thinks its particularly important for us older folk to share our experiences with younger mothers and fathers so they realize that their health, whether they are proactive or reactive to disease, has a huge impact on their children. When we choose to have children, our health has to become paramount as we often don’t think of the impact it has on these little neophytes. We need to embrace proactive measures in hopes of tipping the scales in our favor away from disease. Even working in a medical field, with all of my family’s health baggage, I never really became proactive until after my heart attack and I had a lot of information available to me, at my fingertips. Please moms and dads, in the scheme of things, much of life is out of our control, however isn’t it prudent to be proactive with the things we know. Given the science, knowledge, information available to us today, we really have no excuses. We all need to embrace our heart health now, not only for ourselves but for our family...our children.
Sincerely and from the Heart,