During communication training sessions and during spiritual gatherings you often hear the phrase “listen to your heart.” In contrast with your thinking, your head, your feelings are meant. My best days turn out to be those days when my feelings and my thinking are in balance. Some people swear by it and others find it rubbish or even vague. But that aside.
The phrase “listen to your heart” has also an interpretation that is overlooked by many people. An interpretation in the literal sense of… How is your heart beating? Does it beat regular? Not too fast or not too slow? Do you hear some noise maybe? Is your blood pressure fine? Are you easily tired or out of breath? Don’t you fancy anything to do or don’t you get anything done?
It happened to me. On a sunny morning that promised much for the day, I woke up and lazily stretched myself. Bang it did on the left side of my chest. It didn’t even really hurt, but it did feel annoying. During my life I’ve felt worse pain; those moments I took a painkiller and after a short time everything was fine again. This time I took a painkiller too and during the day I forgot about the pain.
The next morning I woke up again with that little bit of pain on the left side of my breast. Furthermore I had dreamt that night that I would die in a couple of months. In the preceding weeks I had that dream more often. Only this time the dream was more insistent, as if it was a last warning. Still today, this dream is very clear in my mind.
People often dream. Me too, but the difference is that each time I can remember my dream the next day in all its details, it is a portentous dream to me. Yes you can laugh about it, but those type of dreams most of the time turned out to be true.
Because of the seriousness of the dream, in combination with the pain in my chest, I decided to call the family doctor. After some explanation I could come for a consultation immediately. From the examination the doctor could hear some noise from the heart and I was referred to a center for cardiologic examinations were I also could go to immediately. That same day I was admitted into hospital and almost 5 weeks later I came home again after having had two open heart operations. As soon as my breast bone is completely healed a heart revalidation process starts that takes weeks, maybe months.
Not everybody may agree with me, but for me it is comparable with bereavement. It is the same quest from denial to acceptance and again a central theme with questions like: do I become my old self again, because this moment, two weeks after the last operation, it doesn’t feel that way. And if not, what are my limitations? In short, how to proceed from here?
At this moment I have no idea how to proceed. When there is one thing I have learned in the past, is to adopt a positive attitude. And today I learn and have learned again that your attitude not only strongly determines how you walk through your process of grieving, but also determines the speed at which you go through the grieving process. The faster you go through the process the sooner you can go on with your life; not only that, it also improves your healing process. It is said in a few words, but it does the job; I know it all too well from experience. It’s like a dance, two steps ahead and one back. Eventually you will arrive where you should be.
I didn’t see it coming. Based on the questions I got during the various examinations, I slowly discovered that all kinds of complaints I used to have could be related to problems with my heart. The moments I had those complaints though, I thought the cause was related to the job, the many hours I worked, the stress, the trips I made and the fatigue as a result of this. No moment I was considering I had a problem with my heart.
Let this be a warning to you. Listen to your heart! In particular when you feel quickly tired or you are short of breath! In particular when you don’t get anything done! Especially when you have pain in your breast, even if it’s just a little bit! Discuss it with your family doctor. It could happen to you too that you be at home again after days, if not even weeks.