I had another counseling visit today. One of the things she keeps asking me about is how I’m doing when it comes to physical activity. I told her I’ve been going for walks almost every day. I still do my bed yoga, but other than that, not much else besides the for the most part resumed activities of daily living. Since the end of December Josh started doing the grocery shopping again and takes the boys. Sometimes I make the list and sometimes he does. He divides the list into three parts and gives each boy a section of needed items to go find. This evening I carried the vacuum up the stairs without feeling short of breath or like I needed to lay down. I can vacuum the living room rug with no problems.
When she asked about running, I didn’t go into the fact that I’m not really a runner, that was just something I’d been doing more frequently throughout the year of 2020. My daughter and I did a couch to 5K running plan that summer. On the last day, we timed it so we could finish down at the beach. It was warm and raining, and my phone died right as we were getting to the end of our workout. We kept running around the beach area until I figured we’d finished.
(She says she doesn’t remember that part about my phone dying but feels like that is something that would’ve happened.)
We took off our socks and shoes and ran into the water. We swam out to the floating dock and pushed up/rolled ourselves out of the water and onto its wooden surface, where we looked out at the lake and watched the rain. I knew that this was one of those fleeting moments of perfection. We sat there for a while and then swam back to the beach, picked up our socks and shoes, and walked barefoot up the beach trail and back to the house.
I didn’t have a working phone (and again I was frustrated by my brainless habits), so I couldn’t take a selfie of us down at the beach. Though it seemed a little anti-climactic by then, I did ask my husband to take a picture of us once we got back to the house. Sometime during this past week or so, my husband was showing me a picture album on his phone. I saw the picture he’d taken. When I did, I remembered how I wished I’d been able to take one down at the lake. I’d actually forgotten about that running/swimming day.
Back in the fall, the doctor ordered an echocardiogram, which is basically an ultrasound of the heart that also measures cardiac output and function. I’d told him about this last time when I’d been swimming and how after a short while I couldn’t do anymore. I know some of it was the loud Zumba music and the anxiety of a new moment. I said I didn’t think I’d be able at that point to pass a stress test. I told him it’s like there’s a cap in my chest that won’t let me go farther. He said that happens sometimes to him when he runs. He hits a mental wall but when he keeps going he discovers that he actually can. I started to feel like he was not understanding me.
I’d pretty much come to peace with the fact that the healing of whatever it is that’s been wrong with me was simply going to take time. Since in the ER I tested positive for mono, there’s the possibility of having some sort of post-viral syndrome, which is the diagnosis he gave so that my chiropractor visits would be covered by our health share plan. I can lean toward thinking catastrophically about bodily symptoms, but that day at the pool prompted me to make sure I wasn’t just dismissing something that needed further attention, like my peace to be okay with not-rightness wasn’t just some new manifestation of an old problem. I told him some things that doctors don’t go to medical school to hear, and cried softly when he said something I now don’t remember, but was something that again communicated he genuinely cared. He was required to ask if I was suicidal. I said I wasn’t, that in fact, I was there because I wanted to live. He said it’s the quiet ones he worries about most.
I was perplexed by the discrepancies that can occur with people’s perception of us verses our perception of ourselves. I didn’t think I was quiet, or guarded, or feeling unable to talk openly with him. My blood pressure had been normal that time, after the past two years of being high during the handful of times I’d started going to him. Because I knew I was not going to be getting any younger, and because there were minor things I was noticing that I wanted to get checked out, I’d decided I needed to at least get started on settling in with some kind of doctor. After he listened to my heart and my lungs I asked him if there was something he could order, some kind of test that would give me a visual image of my heart.
When that day I had felt something snap inside of me, right above my heart on the left side of my chest, I thought something in my heart had popped. I thought maybe the stress had ballooned out an artery. When I stayed conscious and did not collapse to my death, I figured maybe that wasn’t what had happened. But something had happened, and for months upon even minimal exertion, it would activate an immobilizing pressure or weight, like that spot in my chest was a heavy magnet.
The echocardiogram was normal. I told the counselor I had plans to try swimming again this coming Monday and that maybe this summer I might try to see if I could work my way back to more walking, but that I didn’t really feel a need to do more than that now. She asked if it was fear that was stopping me. I’ve told her everything I didn’t tell the doctor, and our sessions have been joyfully encouraging and helpful. I didn’t go into this time how I didn’t think it was fear so much, but was mostly because I was slowly still healing.