For the past 3-4 months I have been experiencing some heart health issues. We aren’t suppose to be aware of our heart beating, it is just supposed to happen. Our heartbeat is a part of our Autonomic Nervous System which does all sorts of things to keep us alive, none of which we have to actively think about…like breathing, digestion or a heart beating. Within a heart there is a “pacemaker” that initiates the heart beat and in turn that electrical signal travels through the heart causing a beat to occur. When the electrical system of the heart goes wonky, we can have extra beats, irregular beats, too slow beats or too fast beats. These are called arrhythmias and they make us aware of our heart beating and although they are rarely fatal, the various symptoms sure can make us uncomfortable. My symptoms had gotten increasingly worse and longer lasting which ultimately led to the placement of a Pacemaker to crack the whip and keep my heart doing its job correctly. I had a two-week period in which to think about all the “what ifs?” What if I don’t survive? Are my affairs in order? Who will clean out my cubicle at work? Who will take in my cats? Stupid worries but worries none the less. Two days before my surgery I decided that I would eat steak and ice cream…all that I wanted…because it may be my last meal. It caused me to reexamine the stress in my life, to look at my world in a more appreciative way, to reexamine relationships and to evaluate just how I would like the rest of my life to be. Self examination is hard work!
Of course I am writing this PPP (post pacemaker placement), so obviously I survived and all that worry and hard work attempting to put my life in order “just in case” was all for naught. But it really wasn’t non-productive because it did energize me to do a myriad of things that should be completed as we age if for no other reason than to help our children deal with the “what ifs”.
I am thankful that I have this new task master I’ve named “Thumper” sitting within my chest as a watchdog for the electrical system within my heart. We live in a marvelous age with medical knowledge and technology which can enable us to live long healthy lives. Have cataracts?…get new “eyeballs”(AKA lens implants), need a new hip or knee?…no problem, get a replacement. Kidneys, liver, or heart failing?….your name can be placed on a transplant list. Yes, medical knowledge has advanced at warp speed and combined with all of the new medications on the market, it is possible to keep our bodies working much longer than our pioneer forefathers would ever have imagined.
All of these advantages should not be taken for granted. They are extenders of our life. Gifts. A chance to build more memories, spend more time with family, take a long-anticipated once-in-a-lifetime trip, listen to the laugh of a baby, feel the sandpapery tongue of a cat on your skin, smell puppy breath, sip a cocktail on a beach while watching the sun sink beneath the surface, read another book by a favorite author, weep through a great movie for the hundredth time, take up a new hobby or just enjoy another trip or two around the sun.
Life is precious. Take time to enjoy every moment. And as the well-known Lee Ann Womack song expresses…”I hope you’ll never lose your sense of wonder….May you never take one single breath for granted….I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean…and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you DANCE!”