Most of us know first-hand about glitches that disrupt the smooth running of anything from a computer to a giant insurance company, to a corporate blunder in production (think recalls), to our own lives in matters of relationships, work, health or travel.
My point in writing about this experience is not so much to describe the details (there are some great videos of the procedures) but rather, what do we do when we experience a glitch in the system or an obstacle to our ordinary, everyday life style? The short answer is to get help when we need it and find the resources that will support the changes that are required. One more time, life is about change and whether or not you have had this kind of change or something similar, you can be fairly-well assured that you will at some point in time.
Almost every day our heart beats 103,689 times, our blood travels 168,000,000 miles, our digestive system processes 7.8 pounds of waste, and our lungs take in 438 cubic feet of air. These are just a few of the multitude of functions our bodies perform. And while the least little mishap can cause a glitch in one system or another, amazingly, day in and day out, for most of us, over a lifetime, our bodies operate almost flawlessly.
The respiratory system works together with the circulatory system and because all of our organs require oxygen to function, the respiratory system depends on the circulatory system to transport the oxygen we breathe to all parts of our body. With over 16,000 things that can go wrong with the human body, the likelihood of having a malfunction, especially in later years, is increased dramatically.
I first began to notice a shortness of breath when walking uphill this in May or June of 2018. I had known for a long time that I lived with Afib (Atrial Fibrillation), irregular heart beats where the two chambers of the heart are out of sync. So, when I told my doc about it, he said, keep exercising and watch for any changes. Since I know a little about change, both planned and unplanned, I kept on walking and watching, taking some meds, and getting shorter of breath with other kinds of exertion as well. I knew something needed to be done if I was to continue anything close to the quality of life I had enjoyed for the past 80 years.
In September 0f 2018, my son-in-law, an outstanding cardiologist with the Integris Southwest Medical Center and Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City said, “I think we should have a look at what’s going on with you.” One of his colleagues administered a cardioversion to see if we could shock my heart back into rhythm. For those of us who have been in Afib for a long time, it often doesn’t work and mine didn’t. No great surprise but worth finding out. We were in the middle of a cross country trip from CA to Maine and back and we continued on to Maine. On our return trip, we decided to get some more information through a couple of tests, one of which was a TEE, (trans esophageal echocardiogram). The conclusions were that 1) the culprit was a leaking mitral valve 2) the pictures showed the mitral valve regurgitation and 3) the best treatment would be a mitral clip repair. That procedure, less invasive than open-heart surgery, was scheduled for November 19. Long story short, I spent five days in the hospital in OKC and we flew home to CA after a few days of R&R.
I began a cardiac rehab program which consisted of five basic elements: 1) Regular, monitored exercise; 2) good nutrition; 3) stress management; 4) education about cardiac risk; 5) psycho-social support. Research indicates that those who participate in such a program have better results than those who don’t and that’s sufficient for me to make a commitment. I am fortunate in having excellent care, a loving support system, and an opportunity to continue learning, growing and changing. Even when a change is not what we might have wanted, there are ways of responding creatively to a glitch in the system.
In the past two years I have enjoyed good health, moved from CA back to NM and this past April to AZ. I have continued to travel, exercise, work, walk, write, study, connect with others, learn and play and consider myself fortunate and blessed. I am grateful for the help I received, for continuing good care and for the ability to care for myself and others. Gratitude and Grace abound.