Do you trust your heart?
It’s a question that can invoke a wide variety of different answers depending on one’s perspective. To an individual who has had a heart attack the question might invoke a frantic search through their pockets for their nitroglycerin pills. To a psychic it might be a question they would ask a client as they do a reading. To someone trying to decide whether or not they should enter into or stay in an existing romantic relationship, it might trigger consideration about whether or not they truly are in love.
To me over the past year the question of whether or not I trust my heart has meant two things. First it has made me ask myself how wide am I willing to open up my heart to help others and help myself. Am I willing to accept the pain in order to taste the joy? Second, it has left me wondering if at age 51, I have enough left in my physical body in this lifetime to go out into the Universe and do the work that I have know my entire life that I was intended to do. I was seeking answers to both of those questions when I trusted my heart and went to the emergency room on Tuesday morning.
If you missed the first chapter of my story go back and read it here before continuing. If you are already up to speed carry on…
After my three doctor visits, I drifted in and out to the sounds of Buddha Lounge All Stars on my Iphone as I waited to get word about being moved from my emergency hospital room with a view to the cardiac observation ward. The doctors were very clear in explaining to me that I was not going to the cardiac intensive care ward. I was going to the low risk patient area which was next to the CIU in case anything was neeeded. I guess over time they have learned it is best to not send people on the verge of full on panic attacks deeper into their fears by using reassurance techniques wherever possible.
After about two hours I was cleared for transport and sent to Room G 1085 in the Galter Pavillion of Northwestern Hospital. Honestly the room was nicer than many 3-star hotels I have stayed in while traveling Europe. Private bathroom. Giant sleeping recliner for guest (I instantly got excited realizing that Christiana could stay the night with me if she wanted). Big screen TV with multi function remote. Clean. Pretty much everything one could ask for if they are going to be help captive for multiple tests.
That’s when I started to realize that I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I realize people have conditions that require them to spend weeks on end in hospitals and I admire them for being able to do so. I have serious issues with confinement. I have never, and I repeat never spent 24 hours in a place I couldn’t leave in my entire lifetime. That clear liquid they put in my IV a few hours was starting to wear off and I was getting really hungry. The brazil nut and hawthorne berry smoothie I had for breakfast seven hours ago had long since outlived its usefulness. Hawthorne opens the heart by the way. I wondered once again if I had overdone it.
I surveyed my new room, plopped down in bed and went back to my Buddha Lounge All Stars on my Iphone. The only problem was that I was down to less than 10% of my battery power and I didn’t have a charger. I knew Christiana would be on her way back soon but I didn’t want to use up all my battery power. Decisions of a captive man? I surveyed the dri-erase board that the nurses put information on for the team. On the board they list the date, nurses name, diet restrictions, action plan and a few other things. One of the lines said “I Prefer”. I guess you are supposed to put the name you prefer to be called by on that line. All I could think of was The World’s Most Interesting Man commercials so I wrote “I Prefer Dos Equis”. At no point did any of the doctors or nurses commended me on my wit.
A short while later as my stir craziness began to grow, a nurse stopped in to check on me and I decided to ask her if they had an Iphone charger. She said the had one for Iphone 4 but not for Iphone 5 or 6. I couldn’t help but chuckle that one of the most advanced medical facilities in the world has a charger for the 1% of Iphone users that might still be carrying an Iphone 4 but nothing for Iphone 5 or 6. I sent my last text off to Christiana with my new location in the hospital as my phone died. All I could think of was that I was glad It was my phone and not me. I could manage not checking Facebook or email for a few hours if I was being allowed to live.
My next doctor visit occurred before Christiana returned. Once again I was asked many of the same questions. I started to wonder if, like Direct TV, there was no way of transferring the information that was already gathered to the next person you were going to have to talk to. I then realized that my blood sugar was factoring into my irritabilty. That and the being captive thing. After I reviewed my story for the cardiology doctor he asked where I worked. I told him that in addition to coaching and speaking that I worked at a restaurant called Joe’s Stone Crab. He immediately asked me if I had access to rich food. That was the first of three times I would be asked that question by cardiologists in the next 24 hours.
It’s not like I eat a perfect diet, I’m not a vegan, but I pay pretty close attention to what I eat. Eat to live 90% of the time and live to eat the other 10%. My weakness is chocolate. Plain M&M’s in particular. To assume I eat rich food all the time is akin to assuming that the gas station clerk uses a full tank every day and always uses premium. I wish I had thought to mention that to one of my doctors. Based on the Dos Equis thing I don’t suspect the humor would have worked any better. I also realized that most of the time now I tell people I’m a coach who also works at Joe’s and not the other way around. I found that revelation telling.
The first nice piece of information that the cardiologist gave me was that my first heart enzyme test came back perfect. In fact the measure was 0.0 which meant there wasn’t even a trace of the chemical that indicates a heart attack might come. I didn’t get the details all too well, but I did understand the “I Aced the test” part. Another “For the Win” moment for Jim. The second nice piece of information that the cardiologist gave me was that since the test was so good that I didn’t have to wait until the next blood test at 7:00 p.m. before I could eat. I was so excited. The nurse offered to bring me a tray of food. I declined.
I had my sights set on waiting until Christiana got back so she could go and get us some food at one of our favorite comfort food places which was very near by, Mity Nice Grill. The thought of eating boosted my moral and I got out of the bed. As I did I noticed a sign that said Galter Room 1085 Phone Number 312-657-5432. “OMG there must be a phone here. I can call Christiana and tell her I can eat!” Captive Jim gets really excited at small victories. I called Christiana and told her the good news. She decided to come over to the hospital and drop off her stuff before getting the food.
After giving me a kiss and hearing the latest news she got ready to walk over to Mity Nice Grill to get me roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans. It had to be way better than whatever the hospital was going to give me and I would gladly wait for it. She told me that she wished she could smuggle me in a glass of wine. I told her that was sweet but I really didn’t even want one. We debated whether we should call in the order in advance so it would be ready when she got there. I then offered that it would be a really good idea for her to have a glass or two of wine of her own at the bar while she waited for the food. We didn’t call in the order in advance.
While she was away they took my third or fourth set of blood for tests. I honestly don’t even remember how many times I had been stuck by that point. The most memorable sticking was still yet to come though. Shortly after my blood letting Christiana returned with our food. We set up the tray table that went over the bed, split a can of orange flavored Pellegrino and watched some british detective show on PBS. As crazy as it may sound I felt like I was on vacation. I had finally given myself a chance to empty my brain of tasks and tests and instead focus on the moment at hand. The moment at hand at that point was fully invested in eating comfort food in a hospital room on a night when I would otherwise have been teaching Yoga Sculpt until 10 pm and while Christiana would have been working at Joe’s until midnight. A 7:00 p.m. dinner together on a weeknight was a special gift even if it was over a hospital bed.
After dinner we cuddled in the crowded hospital bed. I was becoming increasingly more assured in my heart that everything was going to be fine. Part of that was my rising blood sugar, part of that was having Christiana at my side and part of that was my intuition that the message I came here to get was within 12 hours of finding me. The message that my heart was as healthy as a man half my age and that I was fully endorsed to do all the energy work and all the healing work that I wanted to do. Go out and open your heart as big as you can Jim Herbert!
Then Christiana said she should probably get her things together and head home before she got too more tired. My short lived euphoria and blood sugar driven invincibility came to a crashing halt. The mere thought of sleeping in the hospital alone that night brought back my insecurities. Even having my beloved friend angry bear and my favorite rose quartz crystal might not insure me making it safely through the night.
We began to review our options. Christiana had been invited to spend the night at our dear friends William and Tom’s place which was only blocks away. That way at least she wouldn’t have to drive the 30 minutes back home. She could also sleep in that big recliner, but she didn’t bring a toothbrush or a change of clothes. She only ran home and back as fast as possible during the afternoon to get my stuff. That was long before we knew my heart enzymes were normal and that we would be eating comfort food while watching PBS. Part of me wanted her to go home and sleep in our comfortable bed. A bigger part of me wanted her to stay. I could tell that she was torn by the decision as well. She asked me one more time if I had a strong preference.
I then did something that I don’t do very often and I don’t do very well. I asked for help. I told her it would be a big help to me if she stayed the night. That she could wear my sweat pants and use the extra toothbrush I had in my yoga bag. The Universe was conspiring in our favor to empower both of us at the same time with one simple decision. Now please don’t read into this that Christiana doesn’t take good care of me. Christiana shows me unconditional love on a level equal to my mother and father who were to two most giving and loving parents I have ever seen. Even though I’ve gotten better at surrendering control I have a long way to go in letting people, even my wife, help me as much as they would want to. She has a need to want me to ask for help just as much as I need to be willing to accept help.
As the night wound down I did something else I had never done before in my life. I took the doctor’s advice and took an Ambien so I could get some rest. I drifted off as Conan Obrien created a mock version of the worst Buzz Feed lists in history. I had Christiana on my left side in the crowed, but comfy hospital bed. I had angry bear tucked in between us. I had my heart shaped rose quartz stone on my chest. I’d bet everything I own that I was the most content cardiac patient at Northwestern Hospital if not the entire world.
I was ready to face the next test. I was ready for some more answers. I was ready to trust the answers whatever they might be. I was ready for some rest.