I find myself quiet since my heart attacks. Although I am working about as many hours a week as I was before, I have reduced other responsibilities, which has freed up time and space. Further, my husband is working most nights right now.

At times, I find myself craving more to do, more to fill up the spaces in my life. At other times, I am thankful to have time and place to just be. When I was going through breast cancer treatment, my life was really busy with healthcare appointments but I also had significant amounts of time off from work to recover from surgeries. I did a lot of walking, writing, and thinking. Sometimes I got lonely but often I was in a mindful space where it was possible to feel and be and breathe.

There are more pauses in my life than there were before, especially when I was working my butt off in grad school, moving constantly, and adjusting to motherhood while building a career. The challenges between the pauses, however, are less predictable. Breast cancer at age 46. Almost exactly 5 years later I found myself hospitalized with two heart attacks. The heart attacks were even more surprising than the breast cancer. In terms of cardiac risk, the odds were strongly in my favor.  Even the report of the lipid profile that was run while I was in the hospital the day after HAVING A HEART ATTACK, has a summary at the bottom, “below average risk (female)”.  This estimate is not necessarily wrong, by the way. It does not read, “no risk” or “zero risk”.

When it comes to my physical health, I’ve had an unlucky five years. But I am lucky in so many other ways. One of those ways is the time that I have right now. I am headed to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota next month to have an evaluation for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). I scheduled my appointments to occur when I had planned to take a trip to the beach, by myself.  The part of the trip that is staying the same is that I am going by myself, which is my choice. My husband will attend my consultation with the cardiologist by phone.

Although it is true that I have had more fatigue lately, I honestly feel about 80% of my old self, most the time. Most of the 20% reduction is due to difficulties with my sleep. The daylight hours are long this time of year and with lots on my mind, it is a bit harder to get back to sleep if I wake up from the sunrise or my husband’s snoring. I do, however, continue to have a day or two out of each week that feels like the air was let out of my tires.  Nonetheless, I have returned to working in my garden as well as to the pottery studio. I find both activities highly meditative.

Silence is very important to my healing process. Today I feel a lonely kind of gratitude, but it is gratitude, nonetheless.