“I really don’t want to wake up in a hospital room on my birthday.” That was something I said yesterday, while at the hospital to be treated for chest pains. Well, this morning, I didn’t wake up in a hospital room, but I did wake up with something else: A wake-up call to take better care of myself. That point was hammered home even more as I stared at the hospital ID bracelet I still had around my wrist.
Yesterday started out to be a day I wanted to get a bunch of things done. I even had a to-do list to conquer. With the next day being my birthday, a day I wanted to relax, I wanted to get done as much stuff as I could. Now, it might’ve been that particular stressor that got to me, or maybe because I hadn’t exactly been eating very well the week before, or maybe it was just stress, but when I was about to do one particular item on that list, I was suddenly struck with massive chest pain. The pain was really bad and I started to feel nauseated too. I went into the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit but then I started feeling sluggish. It was hard to stand up. The pain intensified, the room started spinning and I began to sweat. I really thought I was having a heart attack.
My husband helped me to bed. After I raised my arms over my head, the pain started to decrease. Eventually, I was feeling better, but I couldn’t stop wondering what had happened. After talking with Jen and checking my symptoms on the Internet, it seemed like I had had a mini heart attack. I texted my youngest sister about it and she strongly encouraged me to go to the hospital. I really didn’t want to. I was so weak and still a little dizzy. I just wanted to stay in bed. But my sister was alarmed and urged me to go. So I texted a friend of mine who is a nurse and asked her if I really needed to. She said I should call 911 and definitely go in to the ER. Not only did she give this advice but she, her husband and daughter raced over to check on me. (Need I say again how so very awesome my friends are?) Her husband called 911 while she helped me to sit down and checked in with me. The next thing I knew, paramedics were at my house and I was being hooked up to a portable heart machine. They also gave me baby aspirin. I checked out okay with the paramedics but they encouraged me to go to the hospital. At this time, my husband was back home and he said he would drive me to the hospital. Our friends followed us and helped us to get checked in. We were there for several hours and I had all these tests and X-rays done, as well as blood tests. Guess what? Everything was NORMAL. There was no evidence I had had a heart attack. But after hearing of how this has happened many times before, once being so worse that I did vomit, and my family’s history of heart problems, the doctor encouraged me to see a cardiologist. In fact, he referred me to a heart clinic and I have to call them tomorrow.
So. After all of that, I have realized that my poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and life stressors have really taken their toll on me. This all happened the day before my 41st birthday, a day I was actually planning to make some major life changes to improve my health. The irony of it all is not lost on me. Now, more than ever, I see how all of those bad things need to change. I need to eat better. I need to lose weight and some inches on my waist. I need to REALLY make time and effort for exercise every day. (I never really stuck with an exercise routine and always checked out when it got to be too painful for me.) And I just need to stop sitting at the desk so much or on the couch so much. My life REALLY needs to be more active. I always let stuff hold me back: My desire for isolation, my preference for being in the home instead of outside and my unease about being around people who ALWAYS want to talk or communicate when I’m not too much for socializing. But I’m sure I can get past those hurdles in order to have a more active life. I’ll figure something out.
I want these changes to happen. I have had enough with the old me. I’m tired of the old me. It’s time for a new me. It’s just time. So I am eager to move forward and welcome the new me. I am doing this for me but I’m doing this for my kids, too. I want to be able to watch them grow up, graduate from high school, etc. I want to be around for that. And I’m pretty sure they will want me to be around for that, too. So I need to forget about labels. Forget about fears. Forget about anxieties. It is time for me to step out of my comfort zone. Time to challenge myself to live the kind of life I kept telling myself could not happen. Well, maybe it can.