On My Heart (A Series)… Surrendering.


In my last conversation with the cardiologist, we talked about what was next for me. I get so frustrated because each test says something different. But, for a doctor to perform a mitral valve repair with a MitraclipTM it has to go to a committee for approval and committees love tests. Replacement of my aortic valve did not need a committee because the procedure had been done for many years. MitraclipTM is a fairly new technology. The committee is comprised of his colleagues in the cardiology field and some other folks (maybe his mom). I asked why I wasn’t on the committee, it being my heart and me paying the bills and all. He said it didn’t work that way.

I’m still confused by all this. As long as they have the money to pay for it, people can get their noses shortened, chins chiseled, eyebrows lifted, genitalia swapped, stomachs removed, or things implanted in their lips, butts and boobs without committee. Me, it takes an act of Congress to have a surgery that could prolong my life. My doctor said if they get audited, and someone thinks they repaired a valve that was working within the guidelines, they could be brought up on malpractice charges. So, is that concern about the best interest of the patient or the doctor? Hmmm.

This whole thing has been a rollercoaster ride. In September, I was terrified but submitted to a hideous open heart surgery, followed by an excruciating recovery. Then I’m up and excited to be alive, looking forward to renewed energy and adventures. Just when I start to feel normal, BAM, back to the drawing board … in the basement … of Hell. South Hell. I felt he didn’t understand my frustrations, so I tried to explain them at a higher volume just in case he was hard of hearing. He remained calm and repeated what he believed to be a logical explanation for all of it. In contrast to my rising hysteria, he remained cool as he was trained to do. Maintaining an even volume, he professed to be doing all he can as quickly as he can.

His passive demeanor irritates me. I don’t want someone standing on the porch telling me the rain will probably stop soon. I want someone down in the mud with me, in full agreement that this situation sucks to High Heaven and the medical system is FUBAR (an old military term for messed up). I want a doctor that will, with righteous indignation, declare on his mother’s grave he will go to the mattresses for me against the other committee members to make sure I get my repair. I want him to bleed out his eyeballs while he fights for me. Alas, he is simply not the righteously indignant, bleeding out the eyeballs type. I should have read his resume a little better before deciding on him. I should have interviewed his wife.

So, here we are. He has ordered more tests to satisfy the committee.

On Friday, I will be put on a treadmill and hooked up to an echocardiogram. They want to see what the valve does during exertion. He is looking at DMR (dynamic mitral regurgitation). He explained, unlike the predictable aortic value, sometimes a mitral valve behaves differently from one day to the next. This explains why sometimes the leak is moderate and sometimes it is severe; it plays nicely while others are watching and it is ornery when it is just me. Apparently, my mitral valve is Eddie Haskell. “Wally, if your dumb brother tags along, I’m gonna – oh, good afternoon, Mrs. Cleaver. I was just telling Wallace how…”

I’ve been wearing a heart monitor for three weeks. I started to grouse here at what a giant pain in the butt it has been, but honestly, it is just a minor inconvenience. I cannot take long showers or soak in the tub because, according to the label “The monitor is water resistant, not waterproof. Do Not Submerge.” Having to be okay with quick showers is not exactly the Trail of Tears.

So, something is happening to me. In the last few days, there has been a shift or, more accurately, a lift. I’m not anxiously awaiting Friday’s test. I’m not planning my next “this isn’t fair” stomping my feet speech.

What is it I feel? I just shrugged ambivalently at that sentence. Am I hopeless? No, not really. Am I tired? Yes, and a little bored if you want to know the truth. Tired and bored. I’m am tired of all the doctor visits and tests and tired of worrying whether the powers that be will decide in my best interests or theirs. Mostly, I’m bored with this being my story. You probably are, too. You may be thinking a nice conversation with my dearly departed Housemate would be a nice change.

I’m tired of complaining. There are many people much worse off that me. Normal every day life required of most people – moving from bed to couch, from couch to the breakfast table, from breakfast table to shower, from shower to car, and from car to office – is doable without a lot of effort. Yes, I’m really tired at the end of most days, and I get out of breath, but if I don’t rush and take little breaks I can make it where I need to be soon enough.

I have decided I’m going to make like that Frozen girl and just let it go. Sure, I will keep my doctor’s appointments, I will take my medicine, I’ll check my vitals every morning. But, I’m going to stop with everything being such a struggle. I’m going to stop forcing things. I am done vilifying my medical team – they aren’t the enemy. If the committee decides the valve is not bad enough to repair now, I will just wait until they decide it is. I’m not going to throw a fit, or cry or take my anger out on my loved ones. I don’t want to spend what remains of my life having conversations about health problems like an old person. No more fixation on the problem, no more Googling random scenarios.

I want to wake up every morning grateful to be able do so one more time. The Marcus Aurelius quote above (being the AD 170 version of “Live, Laugh, Love”) is correct; it is a privilege to be alive. I will breathe, think, enjoy and love to the best of my ability. I’m going to appreciate the man who lies next to me and supports me every day. I’m going to take trips to see my kids and grandkids. I’m going to visit interesting places. I’m going to eat quality food and take care of the rest of my body. I’m going to stop and smell those roses I planted instead of just pruning, fertilizing and watering. I’m going to let the sun fall on my face and not worry about whether I applied sunscreen because it doesn’t matter. I’m going to follow through on plans and get back to working on dreams. I will avoid any and all drains on my energy, be it people or circumstances. I’m going to surround myself with loved ones who will get down in the mud with me. I will not live each day as if it were my last, because no one can sustain that and the bathrooms need cleaning.

I’m just not going to fight any more. Being angry is exhausting, and maybe I wouldn’t be so tired if I loosened my grip and surrendered a little of the power I convinced myself I have. I’m going to let the Universe and my Spirit Guides take care of me in the way God directs them to. Because, in fact, most things are out of our control, and the sooner we figure that out, the sooner we can let go. I’m going to let go now. I’ve tried everything else, I might as well give surrender a chance.

Let’s see what happens next.

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