Tuesday, June 15, 2010

...and the Foot Bone's Connected to the...Brain Bone?

I had surgery on my foot, so I understand why my foot hurts and why other muscles hurt from using crutches, walking (hobbling) differently, etc., but what I don’t understand is why surgery on my foot has affected the way my brain works! It’s true, I’m getting older and brain function does decrease a bit with age. It’s also true that the stressors of this past year have caused some issues with how my brain works. But for the last six weeks, ever since my surgery, I’ve been almost dingy – I’ve messed up on our family’s scheduling (more than once), I’ve written a check for different amounts in the numerical and written-out sections, I’ve missed deadlines, I’ve forgotten special events, I’ve thought I’d conveyed information that I hadn’t. I’m normally a very organized person and these brain lapses really bother me. I’m used to being on top of all that’s happening; I’m used to being right. Now, I’m just not up to par. My foot is recovering, but will my brain recover as well?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Honeymoon: 33 Years and Counting

I just woke up from a little mid-afternoon nap – I fell asleep on a chaise, in the sun, on a deck overlooking Haystack Rock on the Oregon coast. There aren’t many coastal days more beautiful than this, but there was one that I remember vividly thirty-three years ago – the day my husband and I were married just a few miles north of here. When I woke up from my nap, I stretched, reveling in the heat from the sun, then sat up to look around at the beauty surrounding me and there, just below my deck, I saw a small group of people gathered around a man in a black tuxedo and a woman in a white dress. A wedding in progress, a marriage just beginning and all I could think to wish for them is that their honeymoon lasts as long as ours.

I’ve read the articles that state that couples have to learn to accept their lives after the honeymoon ends. I’ve seen the movies and TV shows depicting couples going through the rote of living their days. Blah, blah, blah! Sure, there are stages of a marriage, many of them, but you don’t get to thirty-three years feeling happy, passionate and in love without bringing with you some of the honeymoon feelings. You remember the honeymoon – the kindnesses, the love, the quiet talks together, etc., etc., etc. Those feelings, those niceties, those intimacies that we experience on our honeymoon are, I believe, what carries us happily through the years ahead…if we hold on to them.

Our wedding photographer told us that we should pick out photos from our wedding collection to put on the wall of our bedroom. His theory was that whenever we might have an argument or fight we would enter our bedroom and there we would be, the portrait of us on our wedding day and we would be reminded of how we felt on that day. There have only been a couple of times that I’ve actually had to take his advice and look at those pictures in the heat of anger, but when I did I was humbled to find myself remembering the bigger story, seeing the bigger picture. In fact, whenever I look at those pictures, whether it’s in an angry moment or just when I wake up in the morning, I am reminded of how I felt on that day and how, while it was truly wonderful then, it doesn’t even compare to how I feel now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pristine Arteries

Pristine arteries – that was the information we received after seven hours in the emergency room – oh, wait, it’s no longer known as the emergency room or ER, now it’s the emergency department or ED. I had my middle son drive me to the ED yesterday morning after experiencing chest pains that came on quickly and strongly and then began to radiate up my neck. At first I thought I just had heartburn (a condition for which I do take medication), but I quickly realized that the pain had progressed beyond typical heartburn. I sat for a few minutes in one of my old lady chairs, sweating profusely and trying to convince myself that nothing was wrong. However, it was very clear to me that I was experiencing the types of symptoms common to women heart attack victims. I considered sitting it out, but remembered hearing that it’s better to head to the ED and be a little embarrassed than to sit home and be sorry. So, off we went. My husband met me at the ED door and we were quickly ushered back for monitoring and evaluation. I won’t go in to all the details, but throughout the next seven hours, the staff performed several different tests to be sure that I hadn’t had a “cardiac event”. The end result was that, while they couldn’t tell me what had caused the pain, they could tell me what hadn’t caused it – I had not had a heart attack and I found out that, in fact, I have pristine arteries. That’s nice news to hear.

As I sat in the bed throughout the afternoon yesterday, waiting to find out what had happened, I was scared. I was afraid that this was, in fact, a “cardiac event”. I feared that this was a blatant statement from my body that I had reached a new stage in my life – not one I’m anxious to admit or succumb to. I worried that healing from foot surgery would be nothing compared to the healing that would be necessary after a heart attack. Instead, I learned that I have pristine arteries and I feel a renewed sense of excitement over finishing this foot healing and beginning the process of rebuilding my muscles and fitness level after this surgery-induced hiatus.

For a lot of people, having a heart attack is a reason to improve their lifestyle. I’ve had a pretty healthy lifestyle for a long, long time and, even though I’m on the bench right now, I know I will go back to the lifestyle – and having had this heart attack scare really helps to remind me of who I am and what type of lifestyle I want to lead.