Thursday, May 10, 2018

Day 118: Back in the Saddle

I realize 10 days have elapsed since my last entry! So I’m going to extend my personal challenge farther into January. It turns out being sick requires a lot more physical and emotional energy than I realized. I’ve had to focus on feeling better for the past week and a half. But the good news is...I’m feeling better! The bad news is...I haven’t been as intuitive in my eating choices as I’d like. I feel myself creeping back into bad habits. But I am all about fresh starts now. So let’s do this.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Day 116 & 117: Be Still, My Heart!

I had a poignant experience yesterday, one I don’t think I’ll soon forget. It was terrifying. It taught me a lot. In the scheme of things, it was a very small inconvenience and not of great significance in terms of the time it occupied. But to me, it was life changing. I faced some things I never had before and learned what my response was in those unique situations.

I woke up feeling fine and went to choir Sunday morning. I got to my seat and realized I left my necklace in the wardrobe room. I had to go all he way back down, which is a couple flights of stairs when added up. I hurried down, hurried back up, and took my place just as warmups began. But I couldn’t get cool. I kept fanning myself. When I stood, my body felt heavy and my vision seemed to dim. I kept having to sit down.  I turned to my friend Brett and told her I didn’t feel well and something was wrong. My heart started racing. My other friend, Sonja, asked if I needed some food and grabbed me a granola bar. I put it to my lips and let it drop- I was too weak to eat it and knew something was really wrong. Sonja hurried for the choir doctor, Dr. Palmer. He is an ENT and is present at all rehearsals and performances in case of emergencies. With 400+ people in a physically and vocally demanding performance setting, it’s so smart to have him there. He escorted me to a chair outside of the choir loft and took my pulse, which was very speedy. My hands also started tingling. Sonja stayed with me. He escorted me down to the horseshoe, a place where we sometimes rehearse under the Tabernacle. Sonja stayed with me again while he went to find Dr. Anderson, a cardiologist who happens to play in the orchestra on temple square. I laid on the ground. I had Sonja call my parents because they were still in Provo and hadn’t gone back to California yet. It was decided after Dr. Anderson took my pulse that I would ride with Dr. Palmer to the emergency room. Dr. Anderson gave me his card and told me to call if needed anything. He also gave the emergency room a call to give them a heads up that I was on my way. Before I left, Dr. Palmer and one of the stage crew members gave me a blessing.  He saved me a lot of money by not calling an ambulance! Sonja collected my clothes and they took me in a wheelchair to the parking garage and Dr. Palmer and I went to the emergency room at the hospital where I was born.

Upon arrival at the hospital, a nurse helped me undress and they put a bunch of stickers on my chest to hook me up to a machine. They drew a bunch of blood, gave me an IV of fluids, and took an X-ray of my lungs. Over the course of the next hour, I had a brief period of nausea followed by cold and shaking, followed by sudden heat, followed by shaking again. I needed an extra blanket, then needed it removed, then needed it back on again. My legs were shaking uncontrollably. My parents arrived and Dr. Palmer left. We waited for the results of the tests. Slowly but surely, I could talk with more ease and my body calmed down. They came in and delivered the news that met my deductible and I owed $1050 between the deductible and the co-pay. When the doctor came in, he said the results of the tests they took were all normal (thyroid, heart, lungs, etc.). My mom informed him that she and her mother both were diagnosed with heart arrhythmia. He recommended I follow up with a cardiologist this week.

My parents drove to the conference center, picked up my car, and I went upstairs to get changed. I was going with my parents to Provo to take it easy. I was feeling great- almost as though nothing happened. My roommate Hailey totally surprised me by cleaning my room (which was a complete disaster!). When I got back to the condo, I went to lie down. I responded to some texts and started to read a book before realizing I wanted to sleep. As I started replaying what happened in my mind, the feeling of heaviness and faintness came over me again. I went in to my parents’ room and laid down and my parents started talking me through it. I started shaking again, this time worse than before. Not only were my legs shaking, but my teeth were chattering. As my mom coached me through deep breathing, my body calmed down. My mom explained it was most likely the adrenaline in my body still coursing through- basically a panic attack in the aftermath of my body going in to fight or flight mode when I got sick earlier in the morning. My mom and I are both worriers, so I was shocked at how calm she remained through the whole morning. She said she felt a strong impression earlier that morning everything would be okay. She also very recently had a similar episode of  heart arrhythmia and it was brought to her memory as I was going through my own experience. She felt strongly that it wasn’t going to be life threatening. For the rest of the evening, I felt okay on and off. I decided to take work off the next day, which ended up being a good choice, as I felt like I got hit by a truck the next morning. By midday, I was basically back to 100%.

Things I learned about myself:

1) I was determined not to lose consciousness, because I was afraid of what would happen if I did. I was holding on to lucidity as tightly as I could. I was so scared, and even afraid I was dying. It sounds dramatic now, but when I started losing control of my body, it felt like anything could happen.  I knew I didn’t want to die. It was frightening to feel like I was facing that possibility.

2) It was hard for me to understand why everyone seemed so calm and normal around me when I felt like my whole world was changing. People were talking to me conversationally and I was having a difficult time responding because my body was so weak. It felt so strange to feel so abnormal and to see such normalcy around me. I know now it was a combination of them trying to keep me calm and also them having a greater understanding of what was happening than I did- they were as concerned as the situation merited.

3) I yearned for physical contact when I was so scared. I remember lying on the floor with Dr. Anderson sitting above me. I reached over and touched his shoe with my hand and told him I was scared. I told people I was scared over and over again. When my parents arrived at the emergency room, I wanted my mom to touch my face.

4) I felt stupid. Of course I didn’t want anything to be wrong with me, but I also did not want people to to think I made it up.. This really upset me. As I reflect back, I know it wasn’t anything I could help. It came on so suddenly and the symptoms I felt were very real. My heart was racing enough (130 or 140 at resting) that two doctors determined it was safer to get it checked out. So rationally, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. But the idea of being a girl who “cried wolf” was extremely upsetting to me.

5) Having people close by meant everything to me. I realized now why people say they don’t want to die alone. I wasn’t going to die, but i didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t want to be left by myself with the fear for even a second. I was so grateful to Sonja, to Dr. Palmer, and to my parents for making sure I wasn’t alone throughout the whole ordeal.

6) I was grateful for savings. A year ago at this time, I had very little savings after buying my house a year before and paying mortgage alone. One of the best things I ever did for myself emotionally and financially was get a roommate to help shoulder the cost and to be a shoulder to lean on when times
are hard. My dad recommended a get a roommate, but I thought I wanted to be a “grown-up” and do it alone. But I’ve learned doing everything by myself doesn’t define adulthood.  It’s making decisions that will help me be the best person I can be. Though I did not like shelling out over $1000, I was grateful I had savings to draw from.

7) Only the week before, I was telling a friend how healthy I am and how sometimes I wished I got sick so it would force me to stop the busy pace of my life. I regret saying that. I need to always be grateful for what I have and instead figure out how to slow down and do less WITHOUT wishing to be forced to do it.

Grateful for what life teaches me and I hope I can use it to become a more useful human in the future!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Day 114 & 115: Lit

It’s so easy to sit and snack mindlessly without much thought for hunger or satisfaction. I made popcorn and flourless chocolate cookies tonight to accompany a movie with some choir friends. I had to fight the temptation to eat well beyond capacity because it was sitting there throughout the whole movie and it was food I like. I did eat beyond my comfort level, but I tried to be more prudent than in the past. That’s the goal- to adapt my lifestyle a little bit at a time and develop new habits. I hope I can make this a permanent change.

I got lights for my yard! We are all ready for Hailey’s birthday party next week. That is, if you don’t count the 3,000 weeds that need to be extricated in the next 7 days. Let’s see if that actually happens. But at least we’ve got lights. Maybe I can keep everyone inside until it gets dark so they can enjoy the lights but miss the weeds 😂. #goalz

Friday, April 27, 2018

Days 112 &113: Choices

Wednesday, I made a conscious choice not to eat intuitively. I had a busy day and a concert in the evening. I just didn’t want to tune in to my body cues. So I didn’t. I enjoyed my eating experiences that day much less than I normally would have because I was eating beyond what I was hungry for.

Today I made a conscious choice to stop eating when I was full. As a result, I decided not to have the bowl of fruity pebble and marshmallow cereal that sounded SO delicious as “dessert” because I was satisfied after eating dinner.

The second choice made me feel better. It’s wonderful to do things because they have good results and not because you feel like you have to do them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Day 111: Unforced Productivity

This continues somewhat from yesterday. After evaluating the "what if's" of not using my time wisely, I decided to let go of the guilt. I was going to allow myself to just lay in bed and read and not dictate every minute of my afternoon after I got home and not care about whether or not it was the right thing to do or if it was fair to other people who don't get to do things like that. I was just going to do what I wanted. This sounds selfish, but the psychology of it had an incredible effect. After getting home from gettin my oil changed and making dinner, I went to my room, read a People magazine, and took a nap. By 6:30 pm, I was awake and had a strong desire to work out for the first time in months. I went for a 3 mile walk while listening to a fascinating podcast called Invisibilia. This episode was about how future behavior can't really be predicted by a mathematical formula.  After that, I got so many things done! I deposited checks, did laundry, and got some things ready for a couple upcoming par-tays.  I didn't do everything I wanted to- I will need to finish some things tomorrow. But I did a lot and it was not under extreme duress or pressure.  I thrived when I allowed myself to govern my own choices, instead of allowing anxiety to dictate my schedule.  The anxiety paralyzed me. I couldn't act. That was part of the reason for my exercise slump.  But I'm feeling more free again.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Day 109 & Day 110: What If

I go to counseling periodically to check in and revisit coping techniques for OCD. One of those resonated with me today in particular. It’s the, “what if” strategy. What if all my worst fears about myself came true? Would it be as terrible as I think? For example, I stress non-stop about being productive and not wasting time. Sometimes it’s hard for me to relax without feeling guilty. So I have to ask myself, “What if I really did waste every minute I spent at home after work?” Would the world stop turning? Nope. Would I be a horrible, unworthy person? No. Using these "what if" statements helps to make the things that scare me the most a little less intimidating.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Day 107 & 108: Don’t You Quit

Queen Holly V. Green X, if you are reading this, I need to know how this dream Italy trip came to be and where is next on the bucket list (but this time bring me).

I saw a quote today that I’ve heard before, but it just happened to come at a really good moment for me. My mind was caught in a rut of negativity- I was feeling frustrated by the many things I need to improve. I was feeling pretty defeated and I scrolled by the quote by Elder Holland that says, “Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying.” It was such a welcome relief to my burdened mind. We don’t have to be perfect. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, every day. I think I can manage that.

It was Aunt Kelly’s funeral today. I loved hearing about her from the perspective of her three cherished sons and her two best friends. It was an honor to sing my testimony to family members who don’t necessarily share my beliefs but who I love so much. It was great to reconnect with my cousins and see so many other family members that look like my aunt and my dad. I am truly so saddened when I think of my three cousins without their mom in mortality, especially as they have children. But there was a sense of joy at the funeral as well, which seems impossible when someone dies so young. She is no longer trapped in a body holding her captive by disease. She is at peace and she will see her sons again and can enjoy them from heaven for now.

Interestingly, I also sang the Brahms Requiem tonight win the Chorale. It was very timely. What an incredible work with gorgeous, hopeful text.