One year ago, I found myself in a hospital bed in the Emergency Room hooked up to all sorts of machines. The little sticky pads on my chest were making my skin itch. I was having trouble breathing, even with the oxygen mask covering my nose and mouth. The nurse had trouble finding a vein in my right arm, so she took blood, which would be tested for the protein, Troponin T from the top of my right hand. What a horrible place to stick a needle.
Thirty minutes earlier, I passed out at home while teleworking in my office. I had been feeling tired for about a week and my heart seemed to be beating extra hard. It fluttered, then felt like it would stop, then restart within a matter of seconds. The restart felt like a kick in the chest, but from the inside. The start-stop ritual had been going on for a week; it kept me up at night. Yet, it took me hitting the ground to do something about it.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we procrastinate when it comes to our health?
Another nurse came in with a tiny cup of water and one aspirin. “Take this,” she instructed. It wasn’t until I was given an aspirin that it dawned on me how dumb it was that I drove myself to the hospital. My husband, Eddy, and our kids didn’t have a clue I was there.
I was being carefully monitored by nurses and machines, but I was all alone. I managed to stay connected to the machines as I leaned over to the visitor’s chair in the corner and grabbed my purse. I pulled out my phone, but before I could dial Eddy’s number, it rang in my hand.
“Hello?” I inquired, not recognizing the phone number.
“Ms. Cumins, this is Dr. Neuenschwander’s office with Tanner Clinic, Dermatology. We received the results of your biopsy; it is cancer and we need to schedule you for surgery immediately.”
“Is this seriously happening”? I said aloud.
“Excuse me?” The women on the other end said. Bless her heart, she had no idea what I was currently going through.
“Nothing,” I replied.
I had gone to the dermatologist a week prior and had a biopsy on a spot on my left shin. Honestly, I didn’t think about that visit until right then. I could hear the beeps coming from the machine next to me. My heart was starting to beat faster. I needed to call Eddy; this was all just too much.
“Hey babe, don’t get mad or freak out, but I am in the Emergency Room. They are checking my heart,” I told him. My voice started to quiver. “And I just got a call from dermatology that the spot on my leg is cancer and I have to have surgery.”
I can only imagine the shock, worry, and anger that flooded over my husband in that moment. I quietly accepted the lecture coming through the receiver. I shouldn’t have driven myself; I should have called him or an ambulance – he was right in all he had to say. I could hear the worry in his voice, so I simply listened, and agreed. Then, as is typical for my husband, he provided comforting, positive words of wisdom that promised we would get through this together. If you follow my blog, you already know my cancer journey. If you don’t know, you can read the story here.
Two hours later, I walked out of the Emergency Room with referral paperwork in hand. Thanks be to God, I had not had a heart attack; however, my heart rhythm was severely ‘off’ and I was being sent to a Cardiologist, where I would undergo an echocardiogram and a nuclear cardiac stress test.
I was in the middle of two major health crises; which one do I tackle first? My newly acquired medical team suggested we get to the bottom of my heart rhythm issue first, then take on the cancer surgery. So, that is what we did.
“Premature Ventricular Contractions”, otherwise known as “PVCs”. That was my diagnosis. My heart was throwing in extra heartbeats – 400 extra beats per minute. The good news was my heart was otherwise healthy. Medication would bring my heart rhythm back into sync; and to this day, I remain ‘flutter-free’.
Today, the first Friday in February, is about the HEART.
National Wear Red Day is celebrated each year on the first Friday in February. On this day, people wear the color red to raise and spread awareness in hope to help eradicate heart disease and stroke across the nation. Check out the links below for more information.
I am Crazy Blessed, y’all. A lot has happened since I was in that hospital bed in February 2021. I am still here. I have purpose and a calling. I accept each day as a gift. And I take care of myself.
Love your heart, my dear friends. Not just today, but always.