New health/metaphyscial philosophies suggest that illness and disease are stuck energy within the bodies energy system. We can load up on the prescribed drugs and hope for the best, or we can take the drugs and use the illness or disease as an exploration into where and why the energy is stuck. It can be a spiritual journey.
Since my A-fib event I have gone from anxiety and panic to a degree of acceptance. I have been reading about dying. A book by Julia Yip Williams was recently published, The Unwinding of the Miracle. It’s her almost five year journey at age 37 diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer to her death a year ago. It’s a magnificient quest into the dark night of her soul while fighting to stay alive as long as she could for her very young daughters. The idea of one’s death is far removed from our everyday lives until illness or disease arrives to harken “memento mori” – remember you will die.
I thought I had finished with dark nights of the soul and revisiting old memories and traumas as psychological impediments. A-fib however reminded me that stress, aging, a fast pace and inattention to diet are signals of where energy is stuck and what needs to be addressed to help mitigate rather than speed up the aging process. In so doing, I have again encountered the metaphor of the Owl. Some cultures believe the owl is a signal of imminent death. I believe the Owl, the night traveler with laser vision, is my life-long symbol to spend more internal time strengthening my intuition, setting my intentions to heal the electrical system of the heart while being practical with medical advice.
It is a conundrum for anyone on prescribed drugs to find peace. Beta blockers which I take to keep my heart rhythm stable creates one of the conditions, shortness of breath, that doctors say are a symptom of A-fib. I never had shortness of breath before I took the pills. I happened upon a youtube video of a Dr. John Bregman, chiropractor, telling people that the medical community doesn’t address what he believes is the cause of A-fib – thoracic problems. I think he needs to be careful with such bold statements because one thing does not fit all. But – it made perfect sense about stuck energy in the thoracic area, neck and upper chest which is where all my energy is stuck. I hold my breath. I used to sit at my desk on the phone, typing most of the day. When I was really stressed I ate sugar and carbs because, let’s face it, chocolate or cheese with home made bread is about as comforting as comfort gets.
I am told by my doctors if I don’t take the beta blockers or blood thinners I will have a stroke or heart attack. Instilling as much fear as they possibly could in me, I have had to go on anti-anxiety pills to counteract their great advice. I don’t take blood thinners as I believe the side effects are horrendous. I do take a baby aspirin every other day and grape seed extract and fish oil and CoQ10 every day. I take megadoses of magnesium because I was seriously Mag deficient. I have tried hypnotherapy and other forms of biofeedback. I have driven myself crazy.
The shortness of breath however has made me reevaluate even further what I need to do physically and emotionally. For example, while hiking up a hill gasping for air, I stop inhale deeply to get as much air into my lungs, to expand them as fully as I can, then exhale. It has helped. I don’t gasp quite as much and I spend more time breathing as deeply as I can. It’s easy to inhale air that’s pure and clean in this remote, non-polluted area. I have changed my diet because I have had too much inflammation in the body – good bye sugar, hasta luego certain carbs, no more red meat, kiss the dairy almost good bye. I am trying to discipline myself to meditate 20 minuets in the morning and 20 at night. I have learned to do deep breathing periodically during the day when I notice I am holding my breath. I have acupuncture treatments. I am trying chiropractic sessions to open up the thoracic area – who knows it might work. I am having stem cells injected into my left arthritic knee soon – thank you aerobics with weights in the 80’s.
I want to have at least two more healthy decades – maybe more if I am in relatively good shape. This year is the year to slow down, to breath, to try non-invasive modalities to heal the heart, to be of service, to express gratitude every day, to try and live each day fully because it could be my last. I never imagined that aging well would be full time job. My parents and grandparents sat in chairs, drank cocktails, sometimes smoked, ate lots of fat – the complete antithesis of what we are told these days. Regardless of their bad habits they were surrounded by family and friends. They died at home not in nursing facilities. My family is three thousand miles away thus creating new bonds seems to be a prescription for aging well if family isn’t near. As I no longer have a singular focus on a career, I realize that healthy living depends upon community not a career. As I reach out to others, reach out to be of service, I realize that I have maybe two decades to sink into what’s meaningful. I am surprised each decade by what I find meaningful, and my 70’s is proving to be the most meaningful thus far. The idea of myself changed dramatically in my late 60’s now early 70’s. The person I thought I was is still there but is giving ground to someone I never imagined I would be.
So for all of you who are younger and far younger than I, if you’re mindful, trying to be mindful or just along for the ride, aging is not a curse, it’s a pychedelic journey!