I wrote a post for the National Catholic Register discussing my latest medical problems. Here it is.
My heart attack did everything it could to warn me, short of standing up, waving its arms and giving a stadium whistle.
Looking back, with that oh-so-clear 20/20 hindsight, I can see that I had been having symptoms for a long time. Then about six months ago, things really kicked into high gear.
I had no idea that this was my heart, trying to warn me. I just thought… well… truth told, I don’t know what, or if, I thought.
That oh-so-clear 20/20 hindsight looks back and sees me, at the beginning of this journey, going “ugh” or something similar when I got hit with a passing symptom, and then immediately forgetting about it as if it hadn’t happened. My thinking brain didn’t pay attention to the early warning symptoms.
I even had a dream in which a friend of mine who died a few years ago came to me and tried to warn me. I know. That’s a bit touchy-feely for most people. But it was so real. I believed it, and I took it seriously.
I joined Weight Watchers and started working out at a gym. I pushed myself as hard as I could in those workouts. Ironically, that was when the symptoms started getting mean.
I wore a Polar heart monitor, complete with chest strap, while I worked out. Instead of using it to keep my heart rate within a safe range, I used it to track how many calories I was burning.I learned pretty quickly that if I kept the calorie burn high enough I could eat quite a bit more than the diet allowed and still lose a pound a week. That was what I wanted, to burn those calories, so I could eat more and still lose weight, so I poured it to those workouts.
I also had nagging pains in my jaw and chest, but they weren’t all that bad. They were ignorable.
Now, a smart woman would have gone to the doc. I have friends who told me I needed to go to the doc. But I’ve enjoyed medical care these past two years just about as much as I can stand. I’d rather eat dirt that expose myself to more hospital time.
I decided — even though I knew better — to believe that these symptoms were just a reaction to being overweight and out of shape. Instead of backing off, I doubled down on the exercise, took a day off when I got laid out by one of those sudden flutters, and kept on keeping on. I guess my heart got tired of being ignored, because after a couple of months of this, it did something that nobody could ignore.
I’m giving you all the gory details because I want you to know what these things feel like. I’m hoping you won’t be as foolish as I was. It turns out I was lucky. But I could easily have died. (Read the rest here.)