Taking Stress to Heart

heart attackSometimes coming up with a topic to write about can be daunting.  Being part of a thirty-one day challenge, I have chosen a topic that allows me to write about anything that involves my thoughts as I live my life in a community that I adore.  I have made many decisions in my life that have altered my path; my choice to live my life in Lapeer has been one of my better life selections.  My years as a resident of this town have not been easy.  We have spent the better part of a decade fighting a bank over their fraud in regards to a refinance of our home.  This journey would try to strip us of our dignity and decimate our finances; our only crime would be reporting the crime.  That is a story I share in my blog entitled “Mortgage Forgery: Living with the Decisions I’ve Made.”  The personal journey and the focus of this particular blog post is that I have had to figure out how not to let the stresses in my life kill me.

The past decade would take its toll on me this past July when I would experience a heart-attack from the ongoing stress.  I would awake in the morning, feeling a little bit agitated; however, with all that was going on at that time, it was not a hectic morning.  Throughout the years of dealing with unwarranted litigation, brought on by someone else’s crimes, I had learned to keep my mind busy with other things in life so that it wouldn’t be a constant mind-burner; however, that was never an easy feat in our circumstance.

As I started my day, I would brush my teeth and then run upstairs to get dressed.  As I pulled my t-shirt over my head, I was hit in the center of my chest with what felt like a horrible case of indigestion.  As I threw my hand up to my chest, the only thought that crossed my mind was that I needed to lie down.  At that moment, an electrical jolt shot from the base of my throat and shot down both arms simultaneously, slamming hard into the joints of my elbows.  At first, I tried to lie down; however, the awful pressure was getting worse.  I would make my way downstairs to the bathroom, where I began to feel cold, yet I was sweating profusely and becoming extremely nauseated.  The pressure continued as if a log was lying on my chest, making breathing hard causing me to gasp.  After the nausea passed I was able to make my way to the living room, where I was able to wake my brother and have him drive me the quarter-of-a-mile to the hospital.

At first, the doctor said that it “might be an anxiety attack” which elicited a quick response of “No, I’m pretty sure this isn’t an anxiety attack” from me.  Anxiety makes me tense up; it has never sent a shooting pain through my extremities and usually, at least in my experience, something triggers an anxiety event.  After a tragic accident in our family back in 2003, I went for months imagining that people were driving at me because of anxiety, and it was nothing like this.  There was, for me at the time, no obvious trigger here.

We would find out later that I had definitely suffered from a heart attack.  I would be hospitalized for a week; having a heart catheterization done that basically ended up explained nothing.  The final result is that I had a stress-induced heart attack.

You cannot even imagine how this blew my mind.  Now I had to worry about the way that I was dealing with my stress; something that I actually thought I was handling masterfully.  Now I had to stress about the way I had to deal with my stress!  How does one do that and not get stressed?  It would take me almost eight weeks to recover from that thunderbolt in my life, all while still going through the judicial processes that have taken over the past decade of our lives.

I don’t live a high-drama life.  I love being at home, in my pajamas, with my husband, watching television, playing on the computer and taking care of our life.   I like to be organized and, what seems to be my downfall is that I don’t like it when corporations and courtrooms don’t follow the rules; especially when the rules that have been broken would send the common man to prison.  Many times we have to make choices on what to let go of in life; and this thorn has festered in our lives for way too long.

Experiencing a heart attack changes ones perspective and presents questions that need to be answered.  In my case, I have to make a decision as to whether, now, if I am willing to risk my life any more for this insanity, or do I figure out a way to move on and try to put this behind me.  Is it worth the risk of another heart attack to give a damn anymore?  I’m thinking not so much.

I now realize that even the healthiest of people can suffer a heart-attack.  I now have a greater respect and understanding that we are not in control of our destiny; and if we abuse our minds, our bodies will react.  I thought I was handling stress in the best ways possible; yet I was still getting up every day, facing the fight.  I spent a decade working hard not to let it be the topic of every single conversation that I would have and to have tried diligently to focus on my faith and not so much on my circumstance.

I love my husband, my children and grandchildren.  I have two of the best puppies and a grumpy cat that continually add fun to each and every day of my life.  There are no skeletons in our closet and despite the heart attack, my heart is stronger than most.  There is a lot to be grateful for in my life.

In an attempt to move forward, I am looking into a position that would allow me to help those in our community that would need it the most.  Ironically the position would be in a field that was unable to help in our situation, giving me empathy for those who have had the rug pulled out from under them, either by the crash of the economy, health challenges or bizarre twists of fate.

Change can only truly come with action, and after this past decade, I am ready for a life change.  I enjoy writing about my town and my thoughts; it’s actually quite cathartic and part of my goal to do things in my life that make me happy as I work on being good with things that I should have never had to be good with in the first place.

I hope you will join me as I make these changes in my life and share my thoughts about the weird and the obvious.  I’m diverse in what I like to think about, so anything is possible.  I don’t believe in judging others paths because I know how deceiving our circumstance can be to those that don’t know us.

My heart attack opened my eyes to the reality that I need to get a better handle on the damages that hanging on to this circumstance has inflicted upon my life.  When a heart attack is the result, the value of the fight has gone far beyond its worth.  I’m not willing to die for something that has turned fraud into an acceptable practice.  When your courts condone it, the fight becomes not just personal, but a fight for a nation full of wronged homeowners.  My shoulders are not big enough to handle it anymore, especially at the price of my life.

Survived heart attacks are warnings to you that there is something wrong.  In my case, what was wrong was not within my heart, it was within how my body was handling the stress that was coming at it, through my thoughts.  We often think, especially as women, that we have everything together.  We are not crumpled messes on the floor of life; we are multi-tasking, superwomen that live for immortality as the perfect mom, wife, and homemaker.  We need to choose our battles without blinders on; because truly, can any battle that deals with the material things in our lives be worth the loss of our life?

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