Walking through a current trauma trigger has been eventful the last few weeks. I have a heart condition and it has the most interesting way of bringing up the past and determining my future. This is not always a negative event but it is always amazing to me how I process the current event based on past trauma.
I honestly do not know when why or how my heart condition started.
I know it was when I was a child but I do not know if it was caused by my Lyme Disease or if I already had it before Lyme. Nor does it really matter whatsoever. I have it, have vivid memories of the issues, life goes on.
Until 5 years ago, I never really spoke about it or cared much about it one way or another. My body would stop me in my tracks when my heart needed to create its own jump-start and I would just pause and it would catch up with itself and on I would go.
Then the health crash of a lifetime happened 5 years ago, sending my heart into a tail-spin like never before. Two cardiologist and a few M.D.’s later, it has been made clear to me that my heart condition along with all the inflammation on my heart (from the Lyme health crash) would most likely not allow me to live through a heart attack.
I cannot be treated for heart disease because this is not heart disease, it is a heart murmur and irregular heart beat. I was told by all of them to get the inflammation figured out as quickly as I can. Hummm, maybe time to take this serious.
I know what is causing the inflammation but I don’t always have control over the solutions. If you have known anyone with Lyme, you have heard of the financial hurdles and the constant need for more physical help with all kinds of needs. And it goes on for years, and years. Just the way that it is. Have accepted it and have even settled into the reality of it all. Even learned to put my pride aside and accept any help that comes my way.
Now that I have been tested positive, diagnosed and treated for Lyme, I am clearly in the healing stages. All should be good to go. That is what I thought…
Two months ago I could feel my heart start to struggle a little more than it had been in months. Three weeks ago I knew it was in a stage of crisis. The last two weeks my heart has woke me up 4-6 times every night because it stops, needs me to take pressure off of it to get it going again.
There is no way to explain being woke up so many times every night for 2 weeks straight to such horror. I am not prone to panic so as I wake gasping for life and then realize what is happening, I am able to get my bearings and arch my back giving my heart more space to take the next beat.
It is bizarre. This happened before when I was in the heat of this particular health crash. I was not as calm. I realized I needed to “get things in order.”
When one is chronically ill they have more time to think than they ever need. I have reviewed the incidents when my heart has had a glitch in its giddy-up. There have been endless episodes but two remind me to deal with the issue. A person gets only a certain number of chances at something like this.
About 7-8 years ago I was working in an office building and had to answer their phone, which I normally did not do. A co-worker was standing next to me. I answered, got stuck in speaking because of my heart, paused, and then tried to recover. It did not go so well.
I started turning red. The lady standing next to me and I assumed it was from being embarrassed. Then I realized my heart was not catching up like it should and I was not able to speak much. The lady watched as my red started turning purple and she started to walk away so she could get others to laugh at how funny this was. I remember motioning for her to stay with me because something was very wrong. Could not catch my breath to explain. I was scared, truly scared. When it was all over she said that my whole head and ears and neck all went through every shade of purple and it looked even scary to her.
In that same year, I went to the dentist and had another significant episode, but different. This was the typical “elephant standing on my chest.” It literally, with no exaggeration, felt like an elephant was standing on my chest. I started hitting the dentist to get his attention and he quickly removed everything in my mouth and turned off the lights and let me lay perfectly still until it passed.
No matter how bad it gets, I do not go to the hospital. I have experienced many levels of this and I know that if I am completely still and as calm as I can get, that my heart will all of a sudden start beating again. It hurts when it does and that creates anxiety but, so far, it has always started up again and then caught up and then evened out.
The big question, why in the world would I not go to a hospital to get help? The risk is tremendous. Trauma is the one and only answer. If you were to make me go to a hospital for this, my sheer terror of the experience would be harder on my heart than any possible heart failure.
This is NOT suggested for any other human being. It is not wise, not safe and not recommended. If you feel like you are having a heart attack, go to the hospital.
Even writing this brings it all up again. So I will save the hospital stories for another time.
Finding examples of chronic illness plagued with past and current trauma gets easier when it is currently happening to me. I am at a wildly good place in my life so I am not paralyzed with fear and paralyzing anxiety over it. I am bored out of my mind being restrained from any exertion!! It is all far from my mind unless I have to tell you my hospital stories or have to stand on my feet.
This is where infusing any amount of humor helps my body breath and relax. Fun pictures help me remember that there is life beyond my 4 walls and my small town. Life will go on and the struggles will not be as intense as the last 2 weeks, or even the last 5 years!! Through it all, I see and feel hope that is bigger than I have ever felt or seen.
How do you see hope through your current trauma?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.