So I’ll probably offend a few people with this picture but it was too perfect to skip. There’s our box of dreams waiting to be opened and fulfilled then bam, out of nowhere we get the middle finger. That’s exactly how I feel, and I think many other women do too – we’ve just been trained to put on a happy face and pretend everything is a-okay, even when it isn’t.
I’ve done everything right for my health – especially in recent years – and I had a heart attack. Within days I was laughing and joking about it, posting on FB the updates, proud that I was able to reduce my prescription medications quickly, back on the treadmill the day after I was released from the hospital. Aren’t I amazing? Oh, don’t forget telling everyone how great I feel and the excitement of a possiblity of a previously unknown genetic medical condition. Truly, I was so proud of myself . . . until last week.
First, truth be told – with the medicine and stress, I’ve been gaining weight. Of anyone, I know how to fix that. I’m monitoring my food and it was time to increase the workouts. I “took it up a notch” and completed a minor workout – horror of horrors . . . I hurt for days! Unlike anything I’ve experienced in years. What the hell????? More research showed me that weight gain is a side effect – lucky me – and without the medication for at least six months there is a chance my body could reject the stent. This is not a good scenario. I talked with two trainers, my cardiologist, my naturopath, even my acupuncturist. Everyone says the same thing – I have to slow down, give my body a break. I know I’ve said this same thing to clients and supported them through the struggle to do just that – slow down. But I never thought I’d hear it myself.
Second, a friend had surgery not long after me, changing some of her life dreams. When I saw her recently she was telling me how great everything was. But looking in her eyes, I knew she was trying to convince herself as much as she was me. I came home and took a long look in my own eyes. Why have I been trying to convince everyone I’m just fine and dandy? Who is supposed to feel better because I looked like I was a prop in the hospital bed and not a patient?
Third, it was finally a sunny day and I thought I’d go for a quick hike up the hill/mountain next to my house. I’ve done it a lot over the years. It’s great to get into nature for my exercise. But then I realized, can I do that alone now? What if there is an emergency? I have to take nitro, aspirin, and a cell phone – just in case. My life is not the same – no matter what smiley face I put on.
Who am I kidding? I’m pissed! I’m angry! I feel cheated! This wasn’t supposed to happen to me! My life has changed! And I think it’s about damn time that I’m allowed to wallow in a bit of self-pity. That’s a part of the grieving process . . . and I’m grieving. I miss being able to run around with my son. I miss being able to do any activity I want. I miss not taking any medications. I miss not being afraid of what could happen. I miss working out and feeling a great sweat. I miss the me I was.
Know this stage won’t last long; I won’t wallow here forever. I am ecstatic that I’m alive (the option wasn’t so good). I know that with time and dedication the weight will come off and the exercise/activity level will return – or return to the new normal level. I am very thankful and very grateful. And I know that I’ll be right back to my happy, smiley, optimistic self telling everyone the truth – I feel great and am progressing well.
But, in the meantime, especially for those of us who are caregivers, it’s important to honor ourselves – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and allow ourselves to grieve our losses. Change is inevitable but that doesn’t mean we always like it. Ultimately, for true happiness, we have to embrace the change to move ourselves forward. That doesn’t mean we have to skip over being pissed for a moment though.