By Kathleen Hutchinson
6 Dec

Whatever it is that brings you joy, do that.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Wow, where does the time go? This past year has flown by. It seems not much has happened but when I look back, a lot has happened. I continue to feel great and believe I am healthier than I’ve ever been.

At the beginning of the year, instead of New Year’s resolutions, I made a “to-do” list for the year. I can say I accomplished at least half, if not more, on my “to-do” list.

I promised myself I would create more joy by spending more time with my friends and being social. Check! I attended concerts (Bush or Depeche Mode anyone? Neither ought to be missed!), I took acting classes to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, I braved the masses for four days at Comic-Con in San Diego and I traveled to Death Valley by myself. Death Valley is unlike anything you have ever seen. It’s worth the trip.  

I also promised myself I would be more active. I did a lot of hiking at the beginning of the year. I checked hiking to the Hollywood sign off my bucket list. I attempted to join a formation running group this summer at work. One of our executives is a former Marine so I thought since it’s typically a slower run, it would be easier. Though everyone was extremely supportive, I wasn’t progressing like everyone else. I was falling further and further behind while everyone was getting better. I don’t like slowing others down, so I dropped out of the group.

Meanwhile, throughout the year my EP doctor was monitoring me and the increases of atrial fibrillation I was having. My doctor had called me in January and presented the ideas of medication and an ablation. I prefer to avoid both as much as possible, so he agreed to monitor it until my annual appointment in October.

When I saw him in October, I had had 39,000 episodes of atrial fibrillation since January. My cardiologist said it was probably why I was having such a hard time with the running group or exercising in general. It made sense, as I noticed I had stopped hiking on the weekends and my overall activity level dropped the latter half of the year.

I opted for an ablation just this past month over medication. I felt better for a couple days afterwards, then started to feel worse than before the ablation. I went back to the doctor and he made adjustments to my pacemaker. Instantly, I felt better.

I don’t define myself by my heart disease. I don’t feel like a warrior or a survivor, it just is. I find myself disheartened when I do get “sick.” I have to remind myself, this is par for the course and a necessary “tune-up” or adjustment. It doesn’t define me. Then I think of the many others who must deal with these things and a whole lot more day-in and day-out. I wish it were easy to pull out of the depressive state we sometimes can find ourselves in when we don’t feel well. There’s no easy “fix.” But I have come to believe that joy, laughter, and some sunshine (oh, and water too) are some of the best medicines out there.

I’m from the school of thought, what you focus on, you create. You may have heard, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” It can be difficult to not focus on our illness when we must deal with it on a daily basis, but if we can focus on being healthy and find the things that brings us joy more than our illness, the limits of healing are endless. Besides, it’s so much more fun!

My wish for you this holiday season is to have more joy in your lives. Experience something new, even though it may be scary. Go outside more. Absorb the natural healing properties of nature and the sun. Spend more time with friends and family and embrace their love and support. Whatever it is that brings you joy, do that.

And we mustn’t forget ACHA. They are doing the heavy lifting for us so we can focus on healing and taking care of ourselves and our family. There is joy in knowing someone has our back when it comes to providing expert care for our specific conditions and fighting for us on Capitol Hill. I know for me, it’s a relief. Consider thanking them with an end-of-year donation. I know I will.

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