Sunday, May 27, 2012

And now what?

Tiramisu, one of life's sweet pleasures.
When I stop wanting it, you'll know it's time to pull the plug.
This is a continuation of yesterday's post wherein I describe my angina attack.

First, thank you for your many caring comments. I have to share a very funny one sent by e-mail from a friend who has experience with heart attacks: "BTW diagnosing yourself from the internet is not what I would describe as the most intelligent thing to do. When you decide to operate on yourself let me know. I will sell tickets."

The yet-to-be-confirmed-by-a-doctor angina attack was a dramatic announcement of my mortality. I pictured the Grim Reaper at the foot of the bed, gesturing a strangulation posture, like Darth Vader.

Throughout the day, I pondered. Maybe a little obsessively.

I don't want to die. I like my life and want to keep living and enjoying it. I want to see my children's weddings, I want to know my grandchildren. I want to relish the beauty of God's world and capture it in my photographs. I want to travel with Stephen. I want to eat tiramisu.

But . . .
  • I don't want to live in pain or with disability. 
  • I don't want to go blind or lose my toes. (I happen to have very cute feet, thank you.)
  • I don't want to give up the things that give me pleasure (yes, I'm thinking about tiramisu). 
  • I don't want heart surgery (or a stent or angioplasty or any of those invasive treatments). "Don't want" is really not a strong enough expression for how I feel about this. I am deeply, deeply averse to this.
  • Frankly (and I know many of you will be aghast at this), I honestly don't want to exercise, at least not to the degree that would have a significant effect on my health. (A gentle stroll three times a week is not enough to benefit cardiac health, though it is good for my mental health. Most studies and recommendations are for 30-60 minutes of brisk activity every day.)
Steve and I had a difficult talk when I told him these last two points.

He would, of course, like me to be aggressive with my illness and make every effort humanly possible to live a long, happy, healthy life. But he can understand my not wanting to be cut open or pierced.

As for exercise, "You just need to find something you enjoy," he urged. I suppose this could still happen, and if it does, then "Yay!" but even when I've had months of sustained exercise in my daily routine it NEVER became something I enjoyed. I never got those endorphins, never looked forward to it or missed it when I couldn't walk/jog/use the elliptical. Perhaps all those neuroreceptors were occupied with sustaining my overactive appetite?

My point is: I know that I am making a choice and that it has negative effect on my very life. It is selfish, and I am sorry, but there it is. (My inner voice is yelling, "Exercise? You can't make me!" I am stomping my pretty, little foot.)

We agreed that I would, however:
  • Follow up with my doctor.
  • Take or adjust any medications prescribed.
  • Continue to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in my diet with the goal of maintaining my blood sugar.
  • Continue to eat smaller portions with the goal of losing weight.
And then we talked about my dad, who died of heart disease a year (almost to the day) of his compulsory retirement at age 65. More about that in my next post.

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