Lighter than air | Update

by Elouise

Lighter Than Air Photo

Right now I feel lighter than air! This morning I met with an electro-physiologist for a second opinion about my heart. He was direct, personable and clear.

When I left his office, I felt my stress and anxiety begin to lift. My next step will be a pacemaker, followed by a decision about medication. The benefits of the pacemaker include being able to run circles around D, drive my car, drive D’s car, and say goodbye to very low heartbeats. Among other things.

In the meantime, I’m grateful for all kinds of expertise and support:

  • My primary care physician referred me to a cardiologist last December, and called several weeks later to see how I was doing.
  • The cardiologist identified my heart issues, and sent me to an electro-physiologist for his opinion.
  • Modern medical technology tracked and recorded my heartbeat 24 hours a day for a week.
  • Medical technicians took an echocardiogram of my heart and ultrasounds of my carotids.
  • Nurses weighed me in, took my blood pressure and recorded EKGs every time I walked into a doctor’s office.
  • The nurse practitioner twice talked with me at length about my heart health.
  • The first electro-physiologist sent his observations and recommendations to my cardiologist.
  • My cardiologist met with us to go over findings and talk about possible interventions. He also gave me names of electro-physiologists from which I chose one for a second opinion.
  • The second opinion electro-physiologist saw me this morning, answered my questions and agreed with the suggested approach.
  • Earlier, a cardiologist at church talked with me informally, answered my questions and offered to talk with me anytime.
  • A friend from church introduced me to this cardiologist and suggested several other members I might talk with.
  • Family members and friends, including some of you, prayed for courage, discernment, and healing in God’s time and way.
  • Last but not least, D happily drove me to every appointment, and was with me during two key meetings with doctors.

I’m less anxious about my heart today than I’ve been since late October 2015. I’ve learned to be direct when asking questions and letting doctors know my goals for this time of my life. Best of all, I know what I want for this season of my life, and which recommended interventions directly support these goals.

Thanks to Anul Gawande’s outstanding book, Being Mortal, I’ve reframed the way I deal with doctors. Some people treat clergy as though they have God-like status. Thanks to life with my clergy father and my experience in seminaries, I’ve never had that problem.

Still, when it comes to medical doctors, I’ve almost always feared what they might say or do to me. They, not clergy, carried for me the weight of God. Not because they thought they had that authority, but because I gave it to them.

This heightens my anxiety and stress level in doctor’s offices, even for routine visits. I’ve played the role of a yes-woman (‘Whatever you say Doctor, no questions asked; you know best’). Or I’ve played the role of a humble suppliant (‘Please, Doctor, I’m so sorry to bother you, but may I ask a very small question?’).

Right now I’m weary. It’s the good kind of weary I get when I see a light at the end of the tunnel, or get within shouting distance of my next destination. So I’m calling it quits for tonight!

Thanks for reading, and for your welcome support.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 March 2016
Photo from