I’m a vegetarian
I run at least once a week. (Not as much as I should but I’m generally active.)
I’m 32 years old
I had a HEART ATTACK!
I felt like I should have bought a lottery ticket the day it happened because the odds were so against me – until I did a little self reflecting and admitted that I’m a workaholic, high strung, can’t sit still, a total people pleaser, and somewhat of a perfectionist. I can’t choose between staying at home with my children or working so I try to do both – and always – something suffers. I’m sad to say it’s usually my parenting skills and my marriage because everything is his fault, right! Riiiight!! My wonderful and supportive husband actually expects nothing of me except that I take care of the girls. All of my stress is self-induced.
I’ve always struggled with anxiety at some level, but tried to manage it without medication. If you are an anxious person, you can probably relate when I say that quite frankly, I was too scared to take the medicine. I always want to be in control and once I put that medicine in my body – it controls me. The funny thing is we are NEVER in control. God is ALWAYS in control.
On Friday, May 17th (one week into my 32nd year of life), I woke up and instantly knew I was having a heart attack by the severe pain in my jaw, chest, and left arm. My husband who pretty much thought I was crazy agreed to drive me to the ER where the doctors also thought I was crazy. It wasn’t until after several blood tests confirming my elevated troponin levels that they discovered I had indeed suffered a heart attack. They tested my blood three times in the hospital before sending the 4th vial to the lab because they were sure that the machine in the hospital was registering a false positive. Once the lab results came back with troponin levels at over 4.0, it was confirmed. To compare, the same doctor had a patient who suffered a massive heart and only had troponin levels of .6. Mine were really elevated.
That was when the cardiologist rushed in, told me I had to have a heart cath within the hour, after the procedure I would be in ICU, gave me a valium, and explained that I was at the top of a roller coaster and I couldn’t get off. At that moment, I asked my husband to call our friend and small group leader to have my church family pray for me. I was in total shock. I could not believe this was happening to ME. I had been staring at the cross above the door talking to God all morning. I knew He was with me and I trusted that His plan for my life was best, but the thought of my girls without a mom entered my mind and just broke my heart. Ever since Madeline’s birth, my greatest fear has been that I would for some reason leave my girls without a mother. I never want their hearts to hurt for a minute and that would be devastating. I’ve learned that I have to trust God completely – even with my girls. He gave them to me and he loves them more than I ever could.
After all of my heart tests came back normal, they said that stress must have caused a spasm that closed my artery temporarily. Even though I was working on quite a few big projects (that I coincidentally missed because I was in the hospital), I didn’t feel that stressed. My husband said that I constantly live in such a high state of stress that I’m immune to the feeling. Sad, but true.
When I left the hospital, WHOA…..a new level of stress hit me. My anxiety was manifesting itself in my body as heart attack symptoms. 95% of the day I couldn’t differentiate between real systems and stress. My anxiety was pretty much debilitating for about a week. Then finally, after a lot of prayer I started to see the light. I felt a lot of shame for the severe anxiety because I felt like that meant I wasn’t trusting God. If there is one thing in my life that I don’t want to fool myself on – it’s my faith. I don’t want to talk a big game and not walk in it every day. Then, I was driving and a verse from 2 Corinthians came into my mind:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” My friend put it simply by saying when we are weak, he is strong. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He simply asks that we hand our problems over to Him and have faith that He is bigger than anything we are facing. Now, when my anxiety hits, I just pray this verse: 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. (Phillippians 4:6-7)
It was really cool to see how the Lord walked me through this. It’s a lot more information.
We pray for good health and prosperity, but it’s really in the tough times that we grow in Him. I’m so thankful for this experience because it has really challenged me to dig deep and take a look at myself and admit some ugly truths that I need to hand over to God to work through.
I’m so hesitant to push PUBLISH because it’s such a personal story, but I do believe that there are a lot of other moms out there that struggle with anxiety so maybe somehow my experience will help.