Monday, February 25, 2013

The Story of my Heart: Part 1

Trigger: I want to include a trigger warning here just in case. I will be talking about pregnancy trauma, emergency rooms, and hospital environments. If you've been through a rough experience regarding your health it may trigger memories for you. If you're pregnant and anxious about any aspect of it, it might unsettle you and just be best to skip it for now. I just want to caution before I proceed. There is grace woven throughout the story but some parts are still hard to read. Or at least write. It took me 2 years to process this experience and be able to talk about it and tell my story.

Disclaimer: This story is from my point of view and from my memories. If others in this story saw things differently I welcome their input in the comments. (So far, I welcome any comments. I love comments!)

Why now?

A couple of reasons.

February is American Heart Health month so it is a good time to create awareness about heart issues.

As I mentioned before, I have only just come to terms and to peace with my experiences. Part of the final process is for me to write about it.

It's going to be raw. It's going to be challenging. Thanks for sticking with me.

Take Care of Your Heart!

I reached to the floor to pick up that stray toy and the familiar pounding set in. It has been my sometimes companion since as early as I could remember in my childhood. I acknowledged and owned it- alone. No affirmation. No one really understood. How could they expect a child to have such clarity to know something wasn't right? It happened at a 5 year old's school children's Christmas choir rehearsal. It happened during gym class when I had to keep running because the teacher thought I was lazy. My doctor even told me it was "nothing to worry about." If I ever even told my parents, I most likely downplayed it significantly so they wouldn't worry. I may not have bothered for fear that it would be dismissed again. I don't remember.

Thump thump thump thump. Swirl. Swirl. Swirl. Swirl. "I am strong. I can keep going."

I learned a secret. I found out how to make it stop; go away. It rarely visited me through my teens and early twenties. It was almost just a memory.

Then I got pregnant with my first child, a daughter. Wow-wow-wow-wow. The sound of her heartbeat. And at 7 months pregnant, mine could match the rhythm, beat for beat. I lay panting on the floor- alone. I could not even call for help. Not until it was over. When I told Josh later he was concerned but it did not trouble me again for some time. And I knew the secret to control it. The trick that always worked. (Except when it didn't.) Drink water. Empty bladder. Get on floor with head between knees.

My second child was a dream birth. Hard work, love, companionship, celebration, tears of joy and disbelief as he slipped out into the water. "I should quit while I'm ahead," I thought. A dear friend suggested it went so well, why quit now? My soul agreed. I love children and want them in my life. Babies change you but they take you on an adventure more beautiful than you could possibly imagine.

21 months later; I maybe wasn't ready but I still wanted to be. Nauseated but joyful. No cares for three months. Just sofa-draped and watching The Nanny reruns. Ah, me. I could have been that soap opera, bon bon eating stereotype for that short while. Why did I have no energy? My last pregnancy was exhilarating. This one was just... A word that exhausted would get exhausted just thinking about.

Fast forward a few miserable months. My tricks didn't always work. Sometimes I'd gasp for air and cry and beg myself to let myself go to the emergency room. Midwife said EKG. Backup doctor agreed. That appointment was either the best or worst decision of my life. Cardiologists tend to keep their offices warm for the old folks that make up most of their patients. The heat was my undoing. I skyrocketed to 280bpm and no-one could get it down. They had other tricks. None worked. If they would just let me go, go home. I knew I could get it to stop. They laid me on my back. Didn't they know this always caused it to flare up? I wanted to get up and run.

Instead I let them put me in a wheelchair. They brought me downstairs to admit me to the E.R. This was new. I could not move; I was too weak. They led me around like a little lost lamb. I was screaming on the inside but I stayed.

And part of me was relieved. Relieved that finally, after all these years, affirmation. Yes, there is a problem. And someone can help. "Let them help you, Jamie," the conviction pressed deeply upon my brain. "Don't run this time; let them help you."

But it was not the help I was expecting. Not in the slightest.

(To be continued...)

Josh and I shortly before this story takes place.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


  1. This makes me cry for all the pain you went through, and I was so oblivious. I love you so much. Don't you ever go through something hard like this without picking up the phone and telling me to come. I will be there before you can blink! I love you fiercely!

    1. Don't cry, sis. I was in good hands. :) Love you fiercely, back!

  2. Oh Jamie, I know this is very hard for you to write, but I'm glad you are finally able to write it out. It will probably be very healing for you.
    I love you!!

  3. You are a true warrior, sister. Your strength and endurance inspire me so much.

  4. I'm glad you can process this. I fear the story is going to get worse before it gets better. It reminds me that sometimes things have to totally disintegrate before the good trying to happen can get out of the tomb. We dangle helplessly in mid air before we discover we are really flying. And there is no going back. It is strangely comforting. Like Jacob and the Angel, we must wrestle until we have secured our blessing.

    You had to go through a labrynth to find the answer, staying outside was not an option anymore. You went ahead into the dark lostness, had to feel your way through all the wrong passages in order to find the right one. But none of them were wrong, because you picked up missing pieces to solve the puzzle along the way. And you emerged a champion. Yet, you went in a champion already.

    1. That is an insightful perspective. Though I shouldn't be surprised because you went through your own labyrinth on more than one occasion.

      Weeee are the champions, my friend... (I can't help it. Every time.) :D


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