A tough old hen

by Elouise

tough old hens

The sun is shining! I’m alive and getting clear about what to do and what not to do to help my one and only heart. Here’s a quick update just for you!

First, the good news. I have no major structural damage in my heart. I also know my carotid arteries are quite functional, given my age. Furthermore, I’m not at risk for heart-related emergencies due to factors such as poor diet, lack of physical exercise, obesity, high cholesterol, or hypertension.

This doesn’t mean I’ll never have a heart-related emergency. It just means I’m in good shape. In fact, given my age I’d say I’m a tough old hen even though I might not look like it on the outside!

So what’s the bad news? There aren’t any quick fixes for my heart. In fact, there isn’t even one long, complex fix. Some things can be helped now, though things won’t improve over time.

It’s all about rhythms and electric signals gone wrong. Think of multiple squabbling political parties in my heart, each doing its own thing, not listening to other voices, going its own way at will. Not all the time, thank goodness, but enough of the time to stop me in my tracks.

This morning I woke up feeling more hope than I’ve felt for weeks. Not hope for a cure, but hope for an intervention that will resolve one of the issues. Perhaps there’s another way to help with something else. I don’t know yet. One step at a time.

Today that step is to schedule an appointment for a second opinion. Not because I don’t trust the doctors I’ve already seen, but because every conversation is helping me clarify two things.

First, what are my goals for this period in my life? I’ve come up with four.

  • I want to be relatively independent, able to drive again and go places on my own and with friends.
  • I want to travel here in the US and abroad.
  • I want to go back to my regular exercise routines, including weekly workouts at Curves with other women going through life transitions.
  • I want to enjoy being with my family members—adult children, sisters living in different states, and other relatives living nearby.

Second, given these goals, which interventions make sense and which don’t? My doctors are recommending three. One makes sense as a first intervention. Not a drug, but a pacemaker. In part because it gives me the best possibility of making progress on my four goals above.

I’m grateful for medical personnel as well as family members and friends with whom I’ve consulted in the last three months. I felt like I was in a dark tunnel much of the time. I knew the tunnel wouldn’t last forever, but I didn’t yet see that light at the end.

I’ve thought a lot about Diane (Sister #3). As an ALS survivor for 10 years, she made multiple difficult decisions about interventions. Diane’s test was simple: Will it support ability to communicate with my family and friends?

That meant getting their attention (when she couldn’t speak), letting them know what she was thinking or needed immediately, loving them, enjoying their company, crying and grieving together, being angry, being herself. All made possible thanks to multiple bodily interventions, Diane’s lifeline to people.

My situation is different, but the reason for any intervention would be similar. It would support my connections with family and others, and with this world in which God has allowed me to live for the last 72 years.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be around to visit from time to time, and will post as I’m able.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 March 2016
Image from pinterest.com