The Beating From Within

As I sit here, I am still processing what has transpired over the past couple weeks… I debated sharing something so personal this publicly, but it is the easiest way to let my friends & family in and inform them.

As I mentioned in an earlier post here, there were several reasons why my presence on this blog has wavered recently, and the main reason is this:

On a Monday evening in late January, I passed out after getting out of the shower.  Fainting was never uncommon for me (as I have passed out maybe once or twice a year since high school), but back then it wasn’t made into a big deal. When it first happened, they took blood work to see if I was anemic, and I wasn’t. I didn’t really follow up, and neither did they. People fainted all the time, right? So, so what? It did not happen enough to interrupt my everyday life, and there was probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for what caused it in the first place.

But this Monday night was different. Luckily, this particular time, my boyfriend JJ was there with me and witnessed the episode. (Usually, I am by myself.) He actually caught me before I hit the ground. From that point, he said I went into a seizure, and then stopped breathing. He immediately did CPR and within a couple breaths/pumps I was okay. When I finally came to, I knew where I was (lying on the bathroom floor) and could sit up.  We called my mom and told her what happened. The fainting was obviously familiar to me, but to stop breathing? Maybe JJ was mistaken. Maybe he was scared and just overreacted, I wondered. As I felt a little weak but otherwise fine, I went to bed and into work the next day.
Later on that next afternoon, I went to my doctor for a procedure. I passed out from the pain of the procedure- not much of a big surprise as pain can trigger fainting, but it took me a long time to recover and feel well enough to sit up. I could not do anything for nearly 20 minutes. They would not let me leave to go home alone, so I called a friend, Debra, to drive me home. However, after I told the doctors what happened to me the night before, they thought it best to go straight to the ER.

At this point, JJ had left work and had arrived to the ER, along with Debra. After taking my vitals, they did an EKG test and a CT scan on my head. Everything came back normal, but they still wanted me to see a cardiologist and follow up with my PCP. So I did that, more EKG tests, and had an echo cardiogram (ultrasound, basically) done on my heart. Again, everything was coming back normal. I was getting frustrated. Maybe nothing was seriously wrong, and we all just overreacted.


My cardiologist still wanted to do a tilt table test as a next step. During this, you are strapped to a table and moved slowly into an upright position. They monitor your heart rate and blood pressure and try to induce fainting so they can see what happens. I had this done on President’s Day, Feb. 15th. I passed out shortly into the test (a good thing, actually- otherwise they wouldn’t have found anything). But when I fainted, my heart stopped for 20 seconds. Because of this, my doctor recommended a pacemaker. He said that my blood pressure is fine, and normally my heart is fine, but when I faint, there’s something that is not sending the signal to my heart to keep beating. It is a necessary precaution.

As you can imagine, I was in shock. I am 25 years old, with a completely healthy heart. Pacemakers, I thought, were for the elderly and people with severe heart conditions. And then the realizations hit me in waves. I’m in the middle of training for the full marathon on May 1st, so I have to stop running? I was working so hard to accomplish that, and had wanted to cross that finish line so badly… And for travel, can I still go through metal detectors? How will this limit me? I know I’ll have a visible scar spreading across my chest someday in my wedding dress. The thought of something being planted inside my body to keep me alive freaked me out, and as I am writing this I am still scared, but I’ve decided I am ready to take it on. My health is not something I am willing to gamble with. Pacemakers have been around for many years, and in my condition, the potential benefits outweigh the risks. My doctors are incredible, and my family & friends have been wonderful. Not to mention JJ, who has been there through the entire ordeal. I made an awful joke about it over Valentine’s Day weekend after we got the results, but he really does keep my heart beating.

So, after a second opinion and a lot of thought, I have agreed to get a pacemaker, and will undergo surgery this week.

Since coming back from Minneapolis, reality has begun to set in. I can no longer push this to the back of my mind, but I still have tried my best. Last night, JJ and I attended PostSecret: The Show in Cleveland. (You can learn more about PostSecret here.) It is something that has always been close to my heart ever since I discovered it. We made a last minute decision to go, despite how tired we’d be (especially thanks to Daylight Saving Time) and how big of a week we both had to prepare for. Since I will be cooped up in my apartment recovering, I want to do as much as I can before the surgery.

In the bathroom at the theater, there were post-it notes decorating the walls and lining the mirrors and stalls, exposing secrets of strangers.

ps

 

Some were funny, some haunting, some sad. What I love about this is that it is okay to be vulnerable- we all are. And yet, we are all in this together.

ps2

 

You never know what someone is going through. You also don’t realize sometimes how blessed you are. I am nervous for Friday, and that’s okay. I’m allowed to be. And while I could easily sit here and feel sorry for myself that this is happening to me and that I can’t run the race I’ve been training for, I’m lucky to have run at all, and to have the chance to keep going.

In closing, while I don’t know how a pacemaker may or may not change my life, I know if it is what I need to do, then I have to get it, even if it seems unfathomable at 25.

My surgery is scheduled for this Friday, March 18th. Four days from today. It’s simple and I’m sure to be successful, but I’d appreciate your prayers nevertheless. They’ll keep me overnight, and I’ll be released the next day if all is well. Some people have asked, and yes, of course- I’m dreading it. I don’t do well with hospitals, IV’s, any of that. There’s no guarantee that this will even work, and I have to be aware of that fact.  My amazing mama is coming down to stay with me for a couple days, as I’ll be out of work for some time. I will do my best to give an update when I’m feeling better, but this is probably the last I will write for a while.

 

 

Before signing off, I want to give a tremendous thank you to both my amazing boyfriend and my wonderful parents, who take such great care of me and help me always. I love you more than you’ll ever know. 

I’ll see you guys soon.

 

sig2

12 thoughts on “The Beating From Within

  1. Dearest Kara,

    It is tremendous that you’ve invited us all to share this moment with you, and I wish to thank you. It’s not easy sharing something this catastrophic – and I mean that in reference to change, not destruction – especially when the one that needs the most convincing is yourself.

    When I came across this post, the very first thing I’ve seen was the image of you in the hospital; and it was then that I had already lost my ****. What may have been weeks ago, I felt as if it was yesterday our eyes last met. From that paradigm, alone, I could not fathom the possibility that this was what you’ve been facing… STILL facing.

    I can’t imagine a world where your heart is not keeping the sun awake! With every beat, a blessing is borne into the wind; cast off to nurture a wounded soul. Therefore, according to your post, there were about 15-25 blessings lost during your faint sessions…. 15-25 un-nurtured souls! And I can’t have that!!! I refuse to stand by and let the idea of your absence be a possibility in my universe.

    In closing, I know what amazing things you are capable of. I know what amazing kind of man you have right there by your side, not to mention the fantastic family support system you have surrounding you. Consequently, I know that you will overcome this mountain and make it a foothill.
    Nonetheless, I assure you that you’ve successfully recruited a powerful ally to this prayer party. I present the boundless reaches of my heart and prayers unto you and your family. May it be a considerable addition to the arsenal already laid upon your feet. I thank God for bringing you this far, and I’m positive the journey is not complete.

    Love you, Kara.
    Your friend, Alijah

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m amazed by how you are handling this. You remind me of one song by Passenger, Holes, where he says he knows a woman whose husband went to get a paper but never came back. With many kids to take care of and keep from the door, she said, “The wolf is just a puppy and the door is double locked; why you gotta worry me for?” Such courage is rare and I see it in you. I will be watching your blog space regularly. Your story can be handy in some of the discussions I have with people about the nature of Hope, please allow me to tell it.

    I’ok keep you in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Kara

    I will be praying for you. I pray your surgery will go well and even after the surgery you will be able to do the things you love even if it’s in moderation!
    Everything will be okay friend! 🙂

    Rolain

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way you write….everyone is asking what they can do and why did I not say anything about you being sick….I said it was not my tale to tell….I also said I do not put my personal life out there for everyone.

    Have a great day!

    Love you

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Post-Op Post | from this side of the sun

  6. Pingback: A Change of Pace | from this side of the sun

  7. Pingback: I Am: A Marathoner | from this side of the sun

  8. Pingback: A Year in Review | from this side of the sun

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s