Two years. Two years. Two years.
At the end of March, it was time for my spring cardiology appointment. Brian, who happened to be in town, texted me around lunchtime to tell me he was thinking about me. And offered to join me if I wanted him there. I had not asked him to come to the last one (where I accidentally sobbed like a lunatic asking the doctor if he was TOTALLY SURE I shouldn’t get pregnant) so I immediately took him up on his offer.
My time with the doctor lasted about five minutes – if that. He asked how I was feeling. I said I felt fine. He asked if I was experiencing any suspect symptoms – nothing new I said (in addition to a pretty low blood pressure as my norm, I occasionally feel some chest pain and goofy heart rhythms). He gently asked how our quest for child #2 was shaping up – I responded we were planning to adopt.
Since I am feeling good two years out, it means I don’t have to do a stress test this year (which is sort of scary) and that I’ll discontinue one of my medicines (which is also scary). Brian was elated to hear this change. I continue to feel suspicious and nervous. The stress test/ultrasound gives me an opportunity to see that my heart is working (and that the damaged part isn’t getting worse). And, perhaps this is silly, but being on the meds are sort of like a security blanket. I’ll still be taking four pills a day
It has taken me two years to get used to this “new normal” – to really feel comfortable in it, to feel like I understand what it means in my life, to take the “second chance” and do something good with it. So I find it particularly unnerving that slowly, things feel like they’re going back to the “old normal”. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – It is thrilling to get kicked out of the doctor’s office because you’re not the interesting freak show anymore. And given the statistics on SCAD, it’s a good sign to be in such a stable place (one more year and I’ll have passed the median length of time for a second occurrence).
Perhaps this will explain my feelings a bit clearer –
A few weeks ago, I met my professional mentor for breakfast. It had been quite some time since we’d been able to meet and had much to discuss. She asked me how I was – and I filled her in on Go Red and work and Cam/the future BGS. And then she said “But how are you… you know….. mentally?” I paused, thinking to myself “Well, she must not read my blog because I put my messy self out there pretty bluntly”
I knew what she was asking. For weeks, I’d driven past a billboard that included my picture – smiling in red – averting my eyes with the word “liar” ringing in my ears. I am that happy face – I am a survivor and I am grateful to be able to smooch Brian and Cameron until there cheeks become rosy. But I also think about death everyday. EVERY. DAY. I get scared that, when Brian travels, something will happen to me and Cameron will get hurt and no one will know. I worry that I don’t wear my Road ID bracelet nearly enough. I’m scared that even though I’m here, I still don’t have enough time. In the last two years, I feel like I have made so much physical progress but in many ways, I still feel like the disbelieving new mom sitting in the ICU. I hate that every spring, I can’t escape a tidal wave of bitterness over all this.
Life isn’t black and white. You can be happy and sad. You can be a victim and a survivor. You can feel fulfilled and continue to search. You can look to the past and to the future and find the same answer to a question. The journey can’t be rushed and neither can all of the feelings that need to be felt.