Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Me and My Heart

So the doctor told me I have a mild heart condition that should cause me no concern whatsoever: ‘mitral valve prolapse.’ There are some symptoms associated with it, and often none whatsoever. Many people have it and are never diagnosed. It’s usually not dangerous. Stress can make the symptoms worse.

There is occasional chest pain and a scary heart-thumping involved in it from time to time for me. I never knew the name or that there was a name—I thought everyone had that sort of thing—but it used to be much worse when I was younger. (Occasional dizziness when I stood up, and fairly common scary heart thumping moments.) That was back before I gave up caffeine, and stopped eating sugar and chocolate most of the time. From what I’m reading on the subject, stopping those items definitely helped lessen my symptoms.

Anyway I’ve been thinking about this MVP, because my chest has been hurting and pounding recently. I think it’s been the emotional stress, plus possibly the heat. (It got hot here very quickly, early in the year, and the heat is not easy for me.)

I sort of feel dumb for thinking about it, because my sister DOES have a serious heart condition, and here I am thinking and feeling concerned about this mild thing that I have.

But I can’t feel how she feels. I can only feel how I feel. And when my chest starts to hurt or pound a lot now, instead of just dismissing it and feeling annoyed, complaining a little and taking some aspirin if it hurts badly enough, I think about what it means—a heart condition—and I feel... vulnerable. Frightened.

Yesterday my chest hurt for most of the day. Just last week, my heart was pounding rapidly because of the stressful time I was having. I could barely seem to calm it down all day.

It just...makes me think, you know? To think about how emotional pain triggers physical pain for me, so often. I’ve never really thought about it in those terms, but it’s true. When my chest starts to ache a lot, there’s usually an emotional reason mixed in with whatever is physically going on. In the same way, crying both emotionally and physically hurts me. It doesn’t seem to affect everyone that way, but it does me. Both are reasons that I avoid watching disturbing news stories or emotionally intense movies whenever possible. For me, both hurt. Both take a physical toll.

I want to do what the doctor said and not worry about this mild heart condition. I also want to be even more careful about chocolate, because the last time I had some, just recently, my chest ached for days afterwards, and now that I’ve put it together that that’s the reason why, I don’t think it’ll be worth it to me anymore to eat chocolate, even once in awhile.

I even see a few repercussions in my writing. People who’ve critiqued my work sometimes tell me that I use descriptions of hearts pounding in distress too often. And I know that in my reading and writing, things to do with the heart, a feeling of vulnerability in the heart, always resonate with me for some reason. I guess maybe now I know why. My body knew something I didn’t know; that vulnerability was something I identified with.

And I wrote about hearts pounding scarily in distress because I experienced it.

I wrote...from my heart.

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UtM, SherryT said...

I just want to say that I'll be praying for you, Alice!
Have you talked to the doctor about your emotional reactions and asked for ideas on how to lessen them?
Please keep us posted!
Under the Mercy,
SherryT (who was diagnosed with a heart murmur as a kid, which got me out of gym.)


Lum said...

Thanks very much for your comment, Sherry. :) I appreciate your thoughts & prayers. :)

I don't know if I'll ask the doctor anything specific or not. I think it might just take me a little bit of time to adjust to this.