Heart/wrecked

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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.

Pocket Treasures

Since tomorrow is the full Wolf Moon in Cancer, I reckon it’ll feel intense and emotional. If yesterday’s volcanic explosion in Tonga and tsunami alerts up and down our west coast is any indication, there are powerful energies above and below.

Three precious treasures found their way into my pocket this morning and came home with me.

I took them out one by one to admire their beauty: a feather, a rock, and a penny that looks old but is from 2021.

They have no real connection; I found each of them in different locations along the path. I often see rocks and feathers but it’s more unusual to find coins, especially since it seems that we don’t use them like we used to. Most of the time we pay with a card, right? We might carry a few dollars with us; coins not as likely, so it was something shiny that caught my eye.

Anyway, now they’re safe and that makes me happy.

Seriously Amazing *Vegan* Herb Crackers

Since we’re in a seemingly neverending spiral of virus mutations, the unvaccinated, and overworked healthcare professionals, I’m still trying to limit my exposure to PEOPLE. Not that it’s too difficult for me as I’m solitary by nature, but it’s still kind of annoying.

I had done my Traders shopping and when I came home, I realized that I had totally forgotten to get the kind of crackers I love to accompany Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese. Read about my love for THAT here: https://enchantedseashells.com/2021/04/06/yum-miyokos-vegan-cream-cheese/

Instead of doing what was normal practice in the old days, I didn’t run out and make that one purchase. Resourceful me decided to bake my own crackers. I haven’t done that in years and it’s so easy, I wonder why it took me this long to remember that! An added plus is no wasted plastic or containers, so I’m helping the environment too…

Tips: I substituted 1/2 cup buckwheat flour for all purpose flour. Next time I won’t do that because buckwheat is such a strong flavor. While it’s lovely in pancakes and soba noodles, it’s a bit too much here.

On the other hand, I gotta say that the smell of the herbs in the oven was so fragrant! It perfumed the entire house. I used all the herbs I have in the garden, but you can add whatever you like, including poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. **Roll extremely thin for crispiest crackers. I didn’t cut them in perfect shapes or use a pizza cutter because I was too lazy and wanted them done in a hurry, but I kind of like the rustic look.

Migraine Melody : Begin The Beguine

I couldn’t even watch TV yesterday when I suffered with that migraine (glad to say it disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived) but all I could do was lie in darkness and listen to music.

One of my all time favorite tunes is “Begin the Beguine”.

The beguine is a ballroom dance similar to the foxtrot, based on a dance from Martinique and St. Lucia. It was popular in the 1930s.

Ella, Frank, Sammy, and Artie Shaw; I love all of these versions, and this dance sequence is to DIE FOR.

Isn’t that Fats Waller?

And Artie Shaw, I could listen to this all day…

Migraine Musings

It’s an amazing eighty degrees here today and I woke up with a migraine. I don’t get them very often, thank goodness, but this one put the brakes on any plans to bask in the warmth of the winter sun.

I don’t know what caused this debilitating headache; I didn’t do or eat anything that could have triggered it.

I hate when I don’t feel great; I’m a much better nurse to others than the one who needs a little helping hand so I’m feeling sorry for myself.

This popped up, which fairly represents my pity party. Sylvia Plath is quite perceptive.

Sailing the Blue Blue…

Sky!

Our sky is as blue as the bluest tropical ocean. For me, this cloud formation evokes a raft reminiscent of Kon-Tiki or a painting by an Impressionist artist.

Do you see the same shape or am I totally wrong?

At the time I looked up, Blue Bayou was playing in my ears. Synchronicity, anyone?

I know Billie Holliday did it first, but I don’t think it could compare to Linda Ronstadt’s version:

Search for Answers with Tarot of the Missing

Sometimes blogs show up on the WordPress Reader that pique my interest and once I read the featured post, I’m hooked.

That’s the way it was with Tarot of the Missing (click on the link.)

Let me get this out of the way in the beginning so there’s no question about her integrity.

From her blog: “Please know that all readings conducted for missing people and children are always done on a voluntary and free basis. I only charge for regular readings that are not related to such situations or cases.”

I don’t know a lot about tarot but the essence of who Lis is comes out in every reading. She’s insightful, compassionate, kind, and empathetic and has vast knowledge of human nature AND tarot.

Please visit her blog; I think you’ll be as fascinated as I am by her readings.

When she wrote about the reading she did regarding the death of Rebecca Zahau, I couldn’t open the page fast enough. Here’s the post: https://tarotofthemissing.com/2022/01/02/rebecca-zahau/

Her insight is REMARKABLE for someone who really didn’t know any of the details in this case from 2011.

This happened in my area, right near San Diego, across the bay in Coronado. Rebecca Zahau died under mysterious circumstance. About seven weeks after her death, officials with the Coronado Police Department, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office and the sheriff’s homicide squad concluded that Zahau killed herself. 

They demonstrated how she tied the knots, placed the noose around her neck and threw herself over the balcony. Dr. Jonathan Lucas of the Medical Examiner’s Office, who performed Zahau’s autopsy, said her hand was still clutching the end of the rope that she used to tighten the binding around her wrists.

Zahau’s DNA was found on the knots of the rope and on one of the knives she used to cut the rope. Black paint was found on her hands and the rope. Her fingerprints were found on the paint tube and the other of the two knives. Her foot and heel prints were found in the dust on the balcony.

Authorities said she killed herself out of remorse for a fatal accident at the mansion two days earlier involving Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son, Max. Zahau was looking after Max when he fell from a second-floor landing and was taken to the hospital in a coma.

None of that felt right to me; I never believed it was a suicide and neither did Rebecca’s family. They sued the person they felt responsible for her wrongful death, Adam Shaknai, brother of Zahau’s boyfriend Jonah Shacknai,

After a month long trial, jurors deliberated for a few hours Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning before awarding Zahau’s family more than five million dollars in damages.

Dan Webb, Shacknai’s lawyer, countered there was no evidence connecting him to the murder. Only Zahau’s fingerprints and DNA were found on the knives and the ropes she used to bind herself. He said Shacknai had been questioned and cleared by homicide investigators in Zahau’s death.

What I feel is of ultimate importance is that Adam Shaknai had extensive knot tying knowledge because he worked for a tugboat company and was alone with Zahau at the time of her death.

“The defendant Adam Shacknai was a tugboat captain, someone who was very familiar with maritime knotting,” Greer said.

“Zahau family attorney Greer said Shacknai, who was alone with Zahau at the 27-room beachfront mansion, sexually assaulted her, hit her over the head four times, and hung her nude body from a courtyard balcony. Greer said Shacknai staged it to make it look as if Zahau killed herself.

Far more important for Zahau’s mother and sister is a verdict they say vindicates their sister and contradicts investigations by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, which found she committed suicide.”

This is a great piece on Zahau:
https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-investigations/2018/04/04/rebecca-zahau-verdict-adam-shacknai-responsible-coronado-mansion-death/486598002/

PS This published before I finished editing the final version; sorry if anyone read a choppy mess!

Me and My Shadow

I thought about this: I’m lucky enough to experience a great deal of butterfly interactions; a continual source of joy and delight.

No photographic evidence exists to prove I’m telling the truth, but yesterday, as I was planting a bunch of California natives, a mourning cloak butterfly was fluttering all around me and then sat on my arm for about two minutes.

I tried to get to my phone to document this magic, but I couldn’t, so you’ll have to believe me. I guess she really really approved the locations where I planted the coffee berry and manzanitas!

This planting experience was a team effort: my son was on the phone with me when I was at the nursery having done the research about which specific plants to buy, and he also determined where each one should be planted. It’s not as much fun as having him here in real life. but we had a good time.

She came back today, blocking my way on the steps, so I was able to finally snap a photo.

Me and my shadow and her own shadow!

January 2022 | Early Days Photo Journal

So far, January has been sending out pretty good vibes. I know we’re only five days in, but things seem to be looking up for sure.

#wordlesswednesday

From The Grandma Archives: An Audience of Two VIPs

It’s been a while since I recounted a moment in time with the Angels…here’s one that brings a smile to my face and a glow to my heart.

I couldn’t help but hear the thundering footsteps of the familiar dinosaur stomp down the stairs at 6am which is marginally better than 5:30 am.

“Wake up, Princess Grandma Coyote Rose!” (He thinks long and hard about how he’s going to address me. It’s different and ADORABLE each and every morning.)

“Warm my feet up, Grandma, feel how cold they are!” “Are you still sleeping? You didn’t get up before I came down, did you?” [He hates when I do that because he’d miss out on our early morning tradition.] Did Daddy have a Batman tower when he was five?” “See my squishy? “I brought lots of stuffies down, too. Here’s Daddy’s teddy with the torn off ear.” “See?” “Give him a kiss, Grandma.”

“Did you have any dreams, my beautiful little buddy?”
“I DID but I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Was it scary? Do you want to tell me in a little while?”

“Yes.” “I’m hungry. Oatmeal first and then buckwheat pancakes when Char comes down.”

“Here are your slippers, Grandma. Hurry!”

First comes blueberry cinnamon oatmeal with a side of sliced apples; coffee for me, and more chat about the day. I never did find out what that dream was all about.

Angel Girl wakes a bit later than her ever/always on the move brother, so I prepped the buckwheat pancakes to be ready when she came down, which she did while AB was still eating his oatmeal. She climbed up on the bench next to him — “I’m in my spot, Grandma!. I need my pink spoon!”– to eat hers as I started the first batch.

After everyone had a few pancakes with agave for dipping and there was moment of calm, I asked Siri to play Swan Lake, one of our favorites. As the music embraced our peaceful eating, I asked them each to identify what feelings were generated by different parts of the ballet and was SUPER impressed by their accuracy.

With my captive audience of two, I stood up–in my fuzzy cheetah print bathrobe hahaha– and started dancing.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, Grandma?”
AG to AB, “Grandma is dancing, Tati!”

“You guys keep eating and I’ll do ballet for you.”

“Should I do a pirouette?” “And this is a plie and a développé, and the best one of all, arabesque!”

“Wow, Grandma!”

“Let’s practice our ballet arms, OK?”
“First, second, third, forth, and fifth. I like fifth position the best, because it’s the princess one.”

I observed wide-eyed Angel Girl reproduce all of the arm positions while shoving more buckwheat pancakes in her mouth.

“Well done, C!” YES, I thought to myself, she will absolutely love ballet classes in a couple years.

I’m not sure if T was all that enamored of my dance skills (or as embarrassed as a teenager would be), but it kept him sitting and eating, and that’s a win for me.

“Now, listen closely. Can you hear the music is telling us to become the swan? Let’s practice making our arms fly.”

“Here’s how we do it.” Again, only one is trying, but the other one is still there, intently watching me. I can’t tell if he’s impressed or if he thinks I’m completely insane; either way, I’m entertainment. As soon as it’s safe to go, I will absolutely take them to see Swan Lake. It’s a rite of passage.

“Now that breakfast and the ballet is finished, we always end with a graceful curtsey.”

“OK. Let’s play, Grandma!”

No applause, no bouquets thrown at my feet, no curtain calls…but my heart is full.

I hope they’ll always have that memory of Little Grandma dancing to Swan Lake in the kitchen after cooking a gigantic batch of pancakes. And laugh about it.

Do you want to know where mom and dad were? Sleeping in, of course!