Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who are reading, commenting and inspiring me to continue this series of blogs. I’m still not 100% sure how long it will go or when I will finish and that’s perfectly fine. Part of what I’m learning in the last year and a half in particular is that I need to trust the process a bit more and let go of managing the outcomes. In a week of many emotions I am reminded that both the positive and the negative emotions are equal parts of our feedback system. I am grateful for all of my feedback.
Most of you are picking up where I left off after my Wednesday morning stress test. If you have missed any of the first three chapters I recommend you go back and read Trusting My Heart from the beginning by following these links:
Part One – Putting My Heart to the Test
Part Two – Asking for Help
Part Three – Trusting the Process
And now onto Part Four – Growing the Heart
It was about 1o:00 a.m. when I returned to room G1085 in the Galter Pavilion of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. My overriding feelings in the moment were a sense of completion and satisfaction. I knew that I had done the work.
I had taken a series of baby steps to reach the bigger revelations I was seeking. In short I had taken action in my life. I made the decision to go to the hospital instead of toughing it out. I accepted the more complete treatment suggestion instead of chalking it all up to anxiety. I had given my blood. I had given my blood again. I had my chest x-rayed from every angle possible. I had showed appreciation to countless hospital workers, nurses and doctors who had treated me with such great kindness . I had pushed my heart to its maximum rate without being overwhelmed by fear. I had allowed for compassion in my heart for the many I saw in worse physical states than mine.
Now it was time to play the waiting game again. I knew that it would be a more than a few minutes and less than a lifetime to get my stress tests results. Where on the spectrum of that tremendously large span of time my wait time would fall? I had no idea. I had no control of that outcome and I had to try to be perfectly okay with that answer. I tried.
Christiana was still at our home enjoying what was probably one of the best showers she had the chance to appreciate in quite some time. I texted her to let her know that I had finished the stress test and that the techs said I had done a great job. She texted me back one of our favorite quick responses, the three letter word, “YAY!” It’s a word that says a lot in a small amount of time. We never send that message except for when we really mean it. We mean it a lot. It’s hard not to say “YAY!” when you are already living the life of your dreams.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do to pass the time while I played the waiting game of test results and Christiana’s return. I flipped on the television and found some old reruns of King of Queens and Seinfeld. I left them on the screen with the volume off and I listened to some Chill music on my iphone. The images of the familiar shows without sound and the vibration of the music seemed to be the elixir I was looking for in that exact moment in time. I scrolled through my iPhone and looked at my Facebook newsfeed but I found myself fairly detached from my desire to know what else was going on in the world in the moment. I was proud of my ability to let go and not be attached. I closed my eyes and found that place that is halfway in between awake and asleep. The state of a fine savasana for the other yoga types out there in the audience.
I might have been in that state for a minute or an hour. I’ll never know and I didn’t look at the clock to try to figure it out. I awoke to a knock on my sliding glass hospital room door from Dr. Lee, the senior attending cardiologist at Northwestern Hospital. He was the last in line of the six doctors I would be visited by in my 36 hour stay. Not surprisingly he asked me how I felt and then he asked me for the whole story. I told my story yet again.
Dr. Lee was less interested in pinning the words chest pain on me than the other doctors. He embodied a kind of senior like experience and wisdom that made me feel like the minute he looked at me he knew everything he needed to know about my heart. When he first walked through the door there was only one word that came to my mind. That word was healer. Please do not interpret this as a slight against any of the other amazing doctors that treated me during my stay. They were all remarkable.
The main difference to me is this. The other doctors were probing to try to figure out what was going on. Dr. Lee already knew what was going on. He was just listening and reviewing the process to confirm his intuitions. The sense of confidence that his confidence gave me was infinite. I knew that I was in good hands. I knew I was in the hands of a true healer.
Dr. Lee reviewed all of the information on my chart and then told me that he too, like all the other doctors had felt that everything related to my heart health was perfectly and 100% normal. He told me the only missing pieces were the results of the stress test which he has not seen yet. He then walked over to the computer screen next to my bed side and said, “Let’s see what the status of those tests are and when we might see them.” My gut feeling was that he already knew that they would be there in the file to review. I wondered if in fact had already seen them. It didn’t matter to me. I liked the way this whole movie was playing out.
Dr. Lee looked at the computer screen for about 30 seconds in silence. He spoke to me while he continued to look at the screen. My eyes were fixed on the side of his head. His first words were, “Let me end the suspense for you.” His words only heightened the suspense. I found myself wishing Christiana was there for this big news. I then accepted that everything was exactly as it was supposed to be and that I needed to hear this news on my own first. I needed to face this fear on my own and move through it.
Dr. Lee then said, “Everything in your stress test is perfectly normal. All the chambers of your heart are firing normally. Your heart under stress performed normally. I don’t see anything that indicates that there is any reason for any concern at this point in time…”
I let the words settle in the air for a moment. I did not stand up and scream “For the Win!” as I thought I might when I got this final piece of information. Instead I sat quietly and let the joy and peace fill my heart and I began to feel empowered beyond my wildest dreams. I’m sure a subtle smile came across my face but I had no mirror to see and there was nobody there to tell me they saw it. It didn’t matter. I knew I wasn’t going to die this week from a heart attack. In fact I quite literally had an immediate and complete sense of knowing that whatever it is that might be the eventual cause of me leaving this body in this lifetime, it will NEVER be the failure of my heart!
Dr. Lee then continued with some opinions about my cholesterol levels and my blood pressure. He advised me to watch the rich foods and try to get that cholesterol number below 200 instead of slightly above. He then stopped and said, “There is one other thing we should take a look at.” Gulp!
I wanted to scream, “Wait! No! You just gave me a clean bill of health. Don’t take it away from me in less than five minutes! What kind of monster are you!” Isn’t amazing how quickly fear and doubt can re-enter the ball game even after they have just been thrown out? Dr. Lee then went on to tell me the one thing he noted in the ultrasound imaging of my heart was that my aorta was slightly larger than normal.
Obviously he knew I needed more information than just that so he continued to tell me that it is fairly common to see a slightly enlarged aorta in people with hypertension and then there are just some people that have larger than normal aortas as their natural state. He then said that he had little to no concern about this, but just for future reference we should get an MRI of my heart and mark the size of my aorta so in the future if needed we could look at again and compare. He said that the MRI was not a test that needed to be done right away and that I could schedule it anytime in the next month as an outpatient procedure.
Dr. Lee said in about a year I could come back for a routine check up and a follow up MRI and if the aorta was still the same size he would just conclude, as he suspected, that I was born with a slightly larger than normal aorta. All of this sounded pretty good to me. In fact I thought to myself, “This is Dr. Lee the healer. He already knows all the answers. He just wants to run the tests to confirm his intuitions. I love this guy!”
He wished me the best and told me to wait until the discharge nurses and hospital administrators had all the paperwork I needed to go home. He then added with a bit of a suggestion to stay calm, “This can take a little while sometimes so try to relax.”
After Dr. Lee left the room I leaped out of the bed. I wanted to dance in my hospital room, so I did. I put on my favorite playlist that I work out to every morning currently and I did little dances around the hospital bed and I pumped my fists in the air. I then called the two most important people in my life, my wife Christiana and my Mom. I told them I wasn’t sure how much longer it would take, but that I was going home soon enough with two pieces of very powerful information. One, that I was healthy enough to continue to live my life to the fullest. Two, that my definition of fullest needs to change a bit and that I need to get more rest.
When I finished the phone calls and the dancing I stopped and let a moment of stillness enter the moment. In that moment of stillness I realized that I had just received a third piece of information I never intended or expected to get. I was just told by a highly respected medical doctor that the largest artery in my body, the one that supplies oxygenated blood (also know as prana/life force/chi/ki) to my entire body, is larger than normal and in all probability that is the normal condition for my body. For the past year or so, I’ve been asking for my heart to open up more and more so I could send more love throughout the world. Is it possible that all of my visualization, meditation and prayers had actually altered the physical state of my body to prepare me to do exactly what I have been dreaming of doing?
I thought to myself, “What an amazing piece of bonus information!” I have spent my entire life preparing my body, my mind and now my heart to do the work of giving, helping and healing. Even in the times in my life when I didn’t know that I was on this path, God/The Universe/Source was conspiring in my favor to prepare me for my highest responsibility.
I closed the curtains and the sliding glass door to my room. I sat down in the reclining chair that Christiana had slept in the night before. In an instant I considered every moment of my entire life as if had all been a split second…and then I began to weep. I wept tears of joy more enriching than any tears that I had ever wept. I knew I was finally ready!