Heart/wrecked

Featured

Like a ship that runs aground because of low tide or unseen rocks or fog or navigational errors, our beautiful heart can be damaged when blood flow is restricted or when it flows unregulated.

Heart/wrecked.

I grew up hearing the term, “Stress kills.”

I was never quite sure what that meant, but then I did when it happened to me.

After a seemingly nonstop barrage of a personal stressful situation–like a ship hitting the rocks over and over again–it all finally took an undeniable toll on my physical health.

One of my favorite places to live is in the state of Denial, but I’ve been forced to temporarily move to a new town called Reality. Hopefully, I’ll just visit there for a bit until I can come home again.

After experiencing some intermittent and strangely terrifying heart pains, I went to the doc who took my blood pressure and was concerned about the results. It was super high. I had always had enviably LOW blood pressure since I exercise regularly, am vegan and never smoked, so this raised concerns.

Over the course of a couple weeks, my BP was checked daily and it stayed consistently high; dangerously high, which only made me more anxious and more stressed, and at one of the office visits, I started hyperventilating and had a panic attack. (Super embarrassing for the doc and absolutely mortifying for me.)

This led to an order for an Echocardiogram along with all the other heart-focused tests. The echo was done at a local hospital–a definite trigger. No one wants to go to a hospital at any time, but especially during Covid. It seemed like I was being admitted, with a wrist band and lots of little stickers, and I was devastated.

I almost bolted out of the front door at that point, but I persevered. I can share with you that it’s a scary time when you have to figure out why you don’t feel great. I’ve been a medical advocate for several loved ones, but it’s radically more difficult when you have to care for yourself. Poor me.

The technician was amazing, especially considering I tormented her with a million questions. I know enough about medical stuff to see that she was concentrating on a certain area of my heart. I really appreciated her patience with me and her detailed explanations during the hour-long ordeal.

The results showed a dilated aortic root valve and regurgitation of the mitral valve.

Risk Adjustment Coding Academy- Coding Focus

What this means is that the accumulation of stress and panic attacks and PTSD that I’ve endured during the last four years manifested medically and physically and caused structural damage to my heart.

Mitral valve regurgitation - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

“Severe physical or emotional stress increases blood pressure to the point where the tensile limit of the aortic tissue is overwhelmed, causing the rupture.”

“Over time, certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, can cause your heart to work harder, gradually enlarging your heart’s left ventricle.”

“Mitral valve regurgitation can cause complications such as atrial fibrillation, in which the atria of the heart don’t contract well. This leads to increased risk of stroke. Also, elevated blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary artery hypertension).”

Hypertension makes the blood push harder against the valve and causes it to dilate, enlarge, and that’s pretty much the same scenario for the mitral valve, which seems to be the cause of the intermittent chest pain.

I’ll need to be monitored regularly because if I can’t control the stress/blood pressure and the valves stretch to a dangerous size, the only solution is surgical intervention–or death.

Reducing stress and hypertension can possibly keep the valves from enlarging any further, but the damage is done–nothing will make them reduce in size back to normal, except surgery.

Let me tell you that it’s true. Stress kills.

Now I’m off to change course, take some magnesium, eat more beets, meditate, calm down and regulate my breathing so that I don’t have a stroke or an aneurysm.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Heart/wrecked.

Shipwrecked.

Make Good Choices

“Grandma, you are the ONLY one that says that besides my teacher.”

Declares the teenager in a six year old body.

“Really? Just me? No one else?”

“NOBODY else says make good choices but YOU.”

“Well, that’s too bad because I think it’s a great idea and we ALL need to remember to make good choices, right, DAD?”

“Right, Granny,”

“Haha”, I reply.

“Like when you tell me that Daddy still isn’t wearing his helmet when he goes skateboarding, don’t you think he could have made a BETTER choice and worn his helmet to be safe?”

“Yesssss.” (Accompanied by an Academy Award winning eyeroll, by the way.)

“And when you look like you’re going to say or do something UNKIND to your sister, and you glance over at me looking directly at YOU, and you choose NOT to do the unkind thing, you are now making a GOOD choice. RIGHT?”

* No response*

“Am I annoying?”

No one answers me, but we all understand.

Make good choices.

Autumnal Equinox | Fall Into Place

Fall, the portal to change, starts today.

Autumn is a bittersweet season for me. I love cooler nights, but the earlier and earlier sunsets are depressing.

The falling of leaves is a sign of death. All over my garden, plants are transitioning into their end of life, slowing their growth and dying. This is the time I rake and rake and rake.

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read that at the exact moment of the Autumnal Equinox, the sun shines directly on the equator, and an enormous “snake of sunlight” is said to slither down the stairs of the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza in Mexico. How cool would it be to actually visit there and experience this amazing event!

Also tonight “the moon is void of course.” I don’t know what that actually MEANS, but it sounds so snarky, contemptuous, and dismissive — even taunting — like OF COURSE the moon is void, how stupid can you be!

Or…it could be me simply being ultra sensitive to any slight or attack on my intelligence. Here’s what it really means…The void of course moon occurs when the moon makes its final major aspect with another planet before changing signs, which means the moon will now be in Libra.

To Autumn by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

   Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

      For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

   Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

   Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

   Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

   Steady thy laden head across a brook;

   Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

   Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

   And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

   Among the river sallows, borne aloft

      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

   Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

   The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Call of The Void

There’s a certain overpass in San Diego where a couple of freeways intersect and there’s one particular stretch that always gives me butterflies because it seems as if you could keep going and fly off the road.

It’s not that I WANT to go flying, but it’s an unsettling primitive curious impulse, “…if I don’t follow the curve of the road and I keep going, I wonder what that would feel like…”

The French have a phrase that explains it far better than I could:

L’appel du vide

L’appel du vide literally means “the call of the void,” and describes a strong or compelling urge one might feel to jump or fall from a high place, such as from a tall building or precipitously soaring cliff.

L’appel du vide does not necessarily or often imply a suicidal or self-destructive longing to plummet from great heights, but rather perhaps a non-destructive urge or itch to try to fly from a cliff or tall building down into “the void.”

It’s a split second rumination, a momentary lapse of rational thought; a suspension of cerebral control — and of course I keep driving ON the road and the urge passes, but not without a bit of adrenal fight or flight activation and I don’t really like that feeling of losing control.

Whew! Just thinking about that causes a bit of anxiety which is why I usually avoid that area unless there’s no alternative course.

If you live in the San Diego area, can you figure out what freeway location I’m referring to?

Random Chat With a Graceful Soul

Do strangers sometimes strike up random conversations with you in public?

Me, too.

Yesterday, standing outside Trader Joe’s, contemplating their plant display, I wondered if I should bring another one home. I spied a pretty little olive tree. My green thumbed son got one at his Traders and it’s now about fifteen feet tall, but that’s the difference between a drought climate and the Pacific Northwest, I guess.

As I pondered this decision, I noticed an elderly lady next to me seemingly in similar deliberations. She was beautifully attired like my mom would have been to go out for the day in a gorgeous dress with heels, accessorized with a sparkly brooch. Her hair was carefully coiffed.

Such a gorgeous human.

I picked up one olive tree and put it back, not sure if I wanted to potentially kill another living being. It’s difficult to grow a lot of things here with barely any rain and restricted watering. Even if it’s not restricted, the cost to effectively water is prohibiitve.

I pointed to the olive trees and said to her, “Are you thinking of getting one, too?”

She replied, “I would, but I can’t see how big it will get.” She had a bit of an accent.

I read the little informational sticker on the pot and told her, “Ten to fifteen feet unless it’s pruned.”

Then I shared with her my son’s successful experience with the olive tree in his garden and how it already created a few actual olives.

After that, she proceeded to tell me one wonderful story after another about growing up on an olive farm just outside of Rome.

Every fall, “just about this time”, she said, they’d pick tons of olives for eating and pressed olive oil and sold it all.

The olive trees outside of Trader Joe’s brought memories flooding back from her youth and you could tell she was wistfully remembering what were obviously happy times with her family.

I told her it was no wonder she had beautiful skin from all the olive oil and she smiled, reached out a hand to touch my arm, and thanked me for taking the time to talk to her.

Actually, it was MY pleasure.

I could have listened to her talk for hours. The stories about her childhood during and after WW 2 were fascinating. I wonder how and why she came to live in California.

(No, I didn’t get the tree, but it’s still under consideration.)

Lurking Lizard: Search and Rescue

I’m involved in a search, rescue, and release mission because a baby lizard somehow sneaked in the house.

Right now he’s lying low, evading my efforts to liberate him, lurking behind the sofa.

I’ve tried everything; this isn’t the first time it’s happened, but so far I’m not successful in this rescue and release.

And that means neither is that lizard because there’s nothing for him to eat here – no flies, worms, caterpillars, nada.

I’m only trying to help.

I cleaned behind the sofa and now there’s no dust, either.

WHERE ARE YOU, LIZARD?

A brief Google search let me know that lizards symbolize resurrection, rebirth, and regeneration. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol of the lizard was representative of plentiful abundance. A lizard in one’s house is often seen to represent an old friend or acquaintance, reminding you of their spirit. 

The next morning…still no sign of this lizard, but I’m still looking. I haven’t given up yet.

Just after noon, I almost stepped on this little lizard as he was well camouflaged on a floral rug, but he made a wise choice to reveal his location. I grabbed a plastic container, pushed him in, and ran outside to set him free.

Enjoy your freedom, my friend!

Mission accomplished.

In a Bit of a Pickle

After the winds and rain subsided, I checked on my garden and discovered two previously hidden cucumbers.

I remember planting a few seeds of the pickling variety but everyone was all mixed up and I couldn’t tell which was which until I saw these gigantic specimens.

I haven’t completely decided if I’ll eat them fresh and possibly not pickle them, because I didn’t discover any others that were ready.

And this one, too, not quite as deformed.

I’ve had success with pickling vegetables, here’s a post about that:
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/07/06/easy-peasy-refrigerator-pickles-meatlessmonday/

There was an unexpected sprinkle this morning; not forecasted, but welcome nonetheless.

Happy Monday!

Somber Anniversary: September 11, 2001

9/11

I won’t show photos of burning buildings, no video of towers collapsing; simply think about where you were on September 11, 2001.

Those lost are remembered on this anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Who could forget that day?

It was just after 6am on the west coast. I had turned on the morning news and taken a sip of my first cup of cup of coffee when all hell broke loose.

In real time, I watched the World Trade Center’s South Tower burn at 9:03 a.m., moments after being struck by United Airlines Flight 175.

I put down my coffee and ran upstairs to wake up my then twenty-year-old son.

We didn’t know what was happening–if similar attacks were planned for anywhere else – but we watched the unfolding of tragedy after tragedy.

Never forget the loss of life at the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania during an attempt by the passengers and crew to regain control.

We will never forget.

Mother Nature Requires Our Attention

If tonight’s Harvest Moon along with Mercury Retrograde isn’t enough energy, here in SoCal, the outer bands of Hurricane Kay — now Tropical Storm Kay — woke me up with high winds and spotty rain, just an amuse-bouche of what’s to come tonight and tomorrow.

My windchimes are going crazy. I think I better take them down before the fifty mile an hour winds cause them to crash and break.

It’s still really HOT; the high temp for today will be right around ninety degrees, but next week’s forecast looks to be back to normal and cooler.

There have been several small fires in the area, but the larger one, the Fairview Fire, located northeast in Hemet has burned more than 27,000 acres moving toward Temecula. Lots of people and animals have been evacuated.

As of 9:00 a.m. here’s a CalFire update:

#ForkFire 780 acres, 20 % contained
#RadfordFire 1,088 acres, 59% contained
#BarnesFire 2,943 acres, 0% contained
#MillFire 3,935 acres, 80% contained
#MountainFire 11,690 acres, 55% contained
#MosquitoFire 14,250 acres, 0% contained
#FairviewFire 27,463 acres, 5% contained

Emergency officials warn us that this incoming storm could cause dangerous flooding and countywide damage.

I’m paying attention to Mother Nature for sure, I feel like I should contribute some kind of offering to her to show respect for her power.

She’s NOT playing around, a bit different than the gentle and nurturing mother Emily Dickinson wrote about:

Mother Nature

Nature, the gentlest mother,
Impatient of no child,
The feeblest or the waywardest, —
Her admonition mild

In forest and the hill
By traveller is heard,
Restraining rampant squirrel
Or too impetuous bird.

How fair her conversation,
A summer afternoon, —
Her household, her assembly;
And when the sun goes down

Her voice among the aisles
Incites the timid prayer
Of the minutest cricket,
The most unworthy flower.

When all the children sleep
She turns as long away
As will suffice to light her lamps;
Then, bending from the sky

With infinite affection
And infiniter care,
Her golden finger on her lip,
Wills silence everywhere.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II died today at Balmoral, surrounded by her family.

She’s free now to join the love of her life, Prince Philip.

I loved to watch her interactions with her grandchildren, to see the genuine love in her eyes, and that’s how I’ll remember her.

Crickets | Philosophy

Update to my dining room cricket dilemma…I was in the bathroom last night, brushing my teeth, when I looked down and witnessed the offensively loud chirping cricket hop onto the rug right near my feet.

This was quite a distance for a cricket to travel, but without really thinking about that (and I should have), I reached down, scooped him up with a page hastily torn out of a book, and dropped him in the toilet.

And flushed.

As the water was swirling and he “swam” away, I instantly thought that I had missed a valuable opportunity to have a chat with another species.

Why in the world did s/he visit me like that? Was it random or was there a message I was meant to hear?

I should have paused and taken a moment to put myself in that little cricket’s shoes (so to speak) and I now wonder what that action attempted to communicate or convey.

Instead, I lost a potential new friend and even more importantly, I acted in haste and without concern for his/her welfare.

Anyway, I’m really, REALLY sorry. Je regrette mes actions.

On the other hand, that was apparently the source of the late night chirps…

Arthur Schopenhauer said it best: