I almost died a year ago. Just typing this is astonishing. Reflecting back on it is unsettling and frightening. Knowing what i know now is motivating.
Bilateral pulmonary emboli - all that goes a long way to saying i had clots in both my lungs. Turns out they were large and threatening. Seems that i likely had them there for a lot longer than any of us realized. As is my wont, I attributed my periodic shortness of breath and general fatigue to being heavier than i should be and made a mental note (the 1000th mental note, or maybe the 1,000,000th mental note) to do something about it.
The emboli arrived on the heels of a series of traumatic and dramatic events. Within a three month span gary had surgery for prostate cancer, my father in law died, my darling sweet delilah was born, my mother died, and we moved from our home of 35 years. Maybe there was something else…but isn’t that enough?
Turns out that the emboli really reared their ugly heads while i was on my way alone to new york to help leah and her family move to the ‘burbs. I had many jobs that weekend - holding a 6 week old baby, giving direction to the movers about where to place furniture, unpacking boxes, making impromptu meals, driving leah and the kids to their new home…all the while i was determined to be as helpful as possible despite periodic feelings of discomfort. i was in touch with my doctor who urged me to get back to boston as soon as i could - and who finally insisted that i come in for a series of tests on a wednesday morning - february 1.
that morning at the brigham i failed a stress test miserably - the first clue that something was really wrong. i could see from the look on the technician’s face that my performance was of concern. she shut down the test rather quickly and moved me on to the next diagnostic event. one thing led to another and following a CAT scan it became clear that something was out of the ordinary. when my doctor told me to stop walking around the hospital and allow gary to push me in a wheelchair i (sort of) realized that i was facing something serious.
but - the odd part is that i did not understand how lucky i had been it was until much later. perhaps this is the way we humans protect ourselves. perhaps i was just naive. perhaps we did not ask all the right questions. whatever the case, i didn’t really get it! it is only in retrospect, as i read more, share my history with other medical professionals, manage my coumadin and most recently hear the discussion about hillary clinton’s clot that i realize how dangerous this really was.
all of this leads me to the real topic at hand.
and more gratitude.
the birth of my beautiful eve, the faces of my grandbabies in the florida sunshine, listening to the lumineers, joining pinterest and the twitter community, sitting at sunset on our kids’ stunning terrace in brooklyn, preparing a lovely summer cape lunch, watching the mist over the smoky mountains, planning a “live like a local” trip to italy, hearing barack deliver an epic inaugural address, watching downton abbey and top chef, meditating to the sound of birds chirping and tibetan bowls ringing, photographing cacti in the early morning hours at miraval, watching gary in the garden, laughing at the irreverent joan rivers, anticipating my 40th wedding anniversary, watching asher and delilah share a hug, seeing the annual 4th of july flower arrangements all around our house, walking castle island on my birthday, getting a horse to raise his foot for me, laughing like a crazy person at a silly thing, hearing asher ask me to “make it louder, gram” as michael jackson sings billie jean while i drive him to preschool, hearing gary tell me that he still loves me
and more gratitude.
i have learned a lot about health this year. with the help of my wonderful “team” - my physician, laurie katzman, my intuitive eating coach evelyn tribole, my hypno-therapist rick miller and my trainer roberto portocarrero i am reconstructing and redefining my vision of good health based on new understandings of current science. i am proud that the data-based measures of my health are dramatically improved. i am relieved to have given up “dieting” forever and to fully understand why i have done so. while i still wish, hope and plan to be in a thinner outer body, i know that the inner workings of my heart and my health are dramatically better than they were a year ago.
i have come to understand for the FIRST time in my life that i feel better when i have exercised and i have begun to look forward to it. i have come to understand that a little is better than nothing and that the goal is progress. i have come to understand that it’s not only about the pounds. i am getting better at doing things i don’t do so well. i have been reading a lot on the mind/body connection. i have also been practicing meditation.
i have come to believe that the journey that i am on is just the right one - even though it has been challenging, even though i have been disappointed in myself, even though i don’t always get it right, even though others may not understand, even though a lot of this trip is INNER and not OUTER.
my motto is and always will be “I will not give up”. i say this to my trainer when he tells me to do the next hard thing, i say this to myself when i feel tired or defeated. i say this to my health care professionals and my dear dear family and friends.
next week, exactly one year after i didn’t die, i will host a party in my own honor at a lovely restaurant in new york. the invited guests are my children and my husband. at that time i will tell them that i am alright. that i am on my way. that i love them all beyond measure. and that i am grateful for the life i am living.