Monday, February 14, 2011

Who Are Your "Loves?"

Valentine's Day gets a bad rap.  Because it's a holiday that celebrates love, and romantic love specifically, the chunk of the population currently without a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/partner/significant other of some sort feels like they can't participate.

I think that's just silly.  Granted, I've spent my fair share of years unattached, calling up my girlfriends and wishing them "Happy Sappy Shit Day."   But with age comes wisdom and the knowledge that some of the most significant "loves" in my life are not the romantic kind.   So I prefer to think of Valentine's Day as an occasion to celebrate the people that are most important to me every day of the year, day in and day out.

Since I'm crafty, I make them cards.

This year Michael's Crafts had so many fun things in heart shapes to choose from, I went a little wild.

I made a lot of cards this year, which helped me remember just how blessed and lucky I am to have a wonderful assortment of "loves" in my life. 

So whether you make cards, bake goodies, pass out hugs or just call on the phone, don't forget to make sure the important people in your life know how much you love them.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Wake-Up Call

It started innocently enough, on Super Bowl Sunday.   I was enjoying a relaxing day at home, making Valentine's Day cards, when the headache started.

When I woke up with it Monday morning, and it hung around all day, I started to worry. You see, I never get headaches.  But I went to work anyway, since I wasn't feeling anything else unusual.  I wasn't congested, and didn't have a sore throat or anything that would indicate I was getting sick. I wasn't stressed out for any reason. Yet the longer the headache stuck around, the worse I started to feel. Just this total uneasiness I couldn't explain, accompanied by a new awareness of the speed of my heartbeat...which didn't feel right either.

Fifteen minutes after I got in the car to drive home at the end of my work day, it hit me.   It felt like a weigh settled on top of my chest and just sat there, and my heart felt like it would beat right out of my body.   I almost pulled over and went straight to the ER.   In hindsight, I should have.   But instead I told myself to keep breathing and try to calm down -- I was working myself into a panic attack over nothing.   I sang along with the radio to calm myself down, convinced as long as I had breath to sing I would be OK.

I made it home, put a hockey game on the radio, and laid down in my bed with two pillows under my legs. I laid there for 30 minutes, feeling my heart race and wondering when it would stop. I debated on calling an ambulance, but somehow I fell asleep for a bit.  When I woke up, I felt a little better. Maybe it was all my own doing, getting myself worked up like that.  So I spent the rest of the evening resting, getting up for short stretches, then starting to feel a little weak and laying back down again.

When I got up this morning, I felt much better that the previous evening, but still not myself. More importantly, my heart still beat too noticeably, feeling too large for my chest. I kept reminding myself to breathe, but the realization was hitting me -- what I was feeling wasn't normal.

So I headed to the emergency room -- alone and scared of what a doctor would find wrong with me.

Being hooked up to monitors isn't fun...especially wearing a hideous hospital gown...

Three vital sign checks, 1 EKG, 4 vials of blood, a chest x-ray and 7 HOURS later, the doctor had a theory -- I suffered an incidence of Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT).  In simple terms, it's a when the electrical signal that causes your heart to beat misfires, then gets stuck on a repeat cycle.  That explained the initial burst of pressure I felt, followed by the racing heart for 30 minutes.  A person can have an episode like this with no advance symptoms, and it can go away just as quickly.  Or last for a few days.

I say theory because the doctor told me that every test result was "stone cold normal"  (he was a young guy, which explains the undoctorly lingo).  Basically, because I waited to go in and wasn't in the middle of the episode, they couldn't find anything wrong with me.  The theory was largely based on my description of what I felt.  Knowing the tests showed nothing physically wrong did make me feel a little better, at least until the doctor said he could prescribe me a short course of anti-depressants.    When I declined, he sent in a social worker (a lovely woman named Margaret and about my age, coincidentally) to talk to me about any "anxiety" I might be feeling.  She also mused about whether my hormones could be acting up.   Then I started feeling like the crazy spinster cat lady.

I suppose the fact that I was crying during the majority of the discussion with the doctor didn't help.  But after waiting 5 hours to find out what was happening to me, I was beyond exhausted emotionally.  I left work at lunch time without eating lunch, so by the time I saw the doctor the banana I had for lunch was long digested, and my only food options in the ER were from a vending machine, so of course my blood sugar was at an all-time low as well.  Most importantly, I have always been terrified of doctors in general, and hospitals specifically.  I was raised in a family where you don't see a doctor unless you need a broken bone reset or you are dying.  All that combined made me come across as an irrational mess.

So I left with aftercare instructions for Heart Palpitations and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  More importantly, I left knowing I have to do more moving forward to take care of my health, because I don't ever want to feel this way again if I can help it.   I've been putting off a good top-to-bottom physical for far too long.

I'm done putting it off.