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  • The cardiologist looked at me, well...not really, he sort of looked to the side of me. Maybe it's his culture, I thought.

    "You have Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy. It's also called Broken Heart Syndrome. Have you had any stress in your life recently? A death in the family, or any other significant event?"

    I say, "No, I really haven't." I think for a moment and think how I have been so happy lately, exercising, Christmas shopping almost done in record time, son having his best year in school, numerous debts getting paid off.

    Then I found myself resenting his words. Stress. Why do doctor's always attribute every condition with women to stress?

    The cardiologist says, "Stress plays a major part in this condition. That's why it can be called "broken heart syndrome." You should take a week off to recover. He was telling me all this a day after doing an angiogram, which showed no blockage. But he points out the bottom of my heart has the classic takotsubo shape. Takotsubo is the Japanese word for an octopus pot. So ... My heart looks like a octopus pot. What?

    Once the cardiologist left and I was lying in my hospital bed in my lovely hospital gown and praying my makeup was still intact from yesterday, I thought back to the events of the day before.
  • The day started normally. I had two confirmed social work visits and needed two more. I emailed scheduling but went to my first appointment. This was my second visit with her. A woman who had recently had major cardiac surgery and lived to tell about it.

    Her cottage home was very sweet with Christmas greenery and a beautiful live decorated tree. I spent one and half hours talking with her. In social work we often listen to people's life review which is important after a health crisis. We are fortunate enough to see the other side of people beyond their health diagnosis.

    She is a very interesting person who had ran an American Indian arts program for years until budget cuts eliminated that and other programs. I was fascinated with her story.

    At the end of the visit she brought up the recent shooting in San Bernandino. I knew by then we were sympatico, so I said I thought it was a spiritual battle -one we couldn't see with our eyes.

    Then she told me how when she was in ICU she actually saw this - demons and angels fighting. Of course she was on heavy med's and they can cause hallucinations, etc, etc. She knew this too. But still she swears by what she saw. Her family told her to stop talking about it or people would think she was crazy!

    I told her I'm not supposed to discuss religion or politics with patients but I understand what she is saying. Some people are sensitive to these other realms and I'm one.

    She said in ICU she didn't die so didn't pass over but rather was stuck in some other realm and she was seeing these dark spirits but also angel beings fighting and protecting people. I told her that I think prayer is important especially for those in hospitals as they are vulnerable. She agreed.
  • Now this next part - is strange. Right at that moment my chest started hurting and I felt faint. I couldn't believe it. I didn't say anything and it passed. But I ended the visit and went to my car. It started again. I took two excedrin and drove to my next appointment. My chest hurt the whole way. I pulled into a grocery store parking lot. I thought maybe it was gall bladder as this happened once years ago. My back and jaw hurt. I was a little nervous but went into the store to use the restroom and called my husband. I almost passed out but made it back to the car.

    Now this next part all you Virgos out there will understand. I called my next patient to cancel my visit. I didn't want him waiting.

    Ok. Ok. Time to call 911. So I called 911 and started talking. And the operator states, "We have a 911 emergency, I have to put you on hold." Click.

    What? What do you call an f'n heart attack? I waited a couple minutes and hung up as I was scared now. I started my car as I knew I could drive myself to ER about 10-15 minutes away depending on holiday traffic.

    So I head off. Every red light was excruciating. Please, please God, green, green! Then the old guy in the pick up truck in the turn lane I needed. Come'on old geezer-move it! Every mile closer to help.

    Then finally I spot the hospital. Parking. I have to find parking. My back, jaw, and chest are a constant pain.

    Ah, there it is. I pull in, slightly hitting a curb. Now... walk. It's right there. You'll make it. Good ol' German fortitude, or is that stupidity?
  • Thank God for nurses. I love you, I truly do! Angels of mercy. I got into the ER line, only one person in front of me. A nurse looks at me and sees my hand over my chest and she mouths from the distance, "chest pain?" I nod.

    They took me right into a room to run EKG. Only slightly abnormal but my BP was 200/100. Took me into the ER. I won't go into all the details as ER visits are not for the modest, as all is revealed. Still ... everyone was so kind and I appreciated my medical co-workers so much. Not that I knew them but I work for the same organization.

    At one point my readings went haywire and all of a sudden four people surrounded me and stuck on patches that I slowly came to realize we're for the paddles. But when I lay down my readings stabilized so they decided to keep me flat.

    At some point, as I was lying there, my words to my patient that morning and her description of the dark spirits in the hospital hit me. How ironic, I thought. We had that discussion and out of the blue this chest pain started.

    In my head I prayed to God. Whatever happens today, protect me from dark spirits.

    I felt protected. I did. Everyone was lovely, and as frightening as my prospects were, it seemed goodness and light surrounded me.

    I don't think I'm special at all. But I do believe what is happening in the world right now involves principalities and powers that we can't see with our eyes and sometimes evil is winning. The Angels are soldiers but maybe they need a little help. So I say at this Christmas time -Believe!
    It may be our only path to salvation.

    As for my heart - octopus pot? Really? I always thought I had a good heart but maybe it has become a little cold sitting in the depths of this human sea of darkness. I have hopes it will get back in shape. Just needs a little warming. Maybe if I just believe.
  • PS. Always seems they won't give you coffee in the hospital. So, I'm back home now and enjoying mine now. Some things are earthly delights.

    Hey, thanks for letting me do this life review. I don't have a social worker so using cowbird instead.
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