Today I mowed the lawn. The sky was overcast, threatening to rain. The breeze cooled the warm air but even with the slight brush of the wind, it was warm. I'd worked a full day teaching and the length of the grass outside bothered me. It was too long. I knew it, my husband knew it, the dogs knew it...and I'm sure that the neighbors knew it. Not mowing wasn't an option.
After a lovely healthy meal and a bit of relaxation after the long day at work, I trudged outside and started the lawnmower with just five tugs on the pull cord. A record for me! Mowing the lawn is cathartic. I love being outside and the sense of accomplishment after finishing. But today, the final swipe of the mower was too much. I knew it and was alone without any help. Luckily I've been prepared for this.
***now stay tuned for a public-service announcement***
I have neuro-cardio genetic syncope. It's a really long medical term for the fact that my head and heart don't communicate well. When a trigger happens, my heart tells my brain that it doesn't have enough blood or that it isn't working. To keep alive, my brain then draws all the blood out of my extremities. In other words, my blood pressure drops. I usually have a few seconds or a minute to prepare before I find myself on the ground. I lose consciousness. I pass out.
This has been going on since I was younger. My first vivid memory was having a really bad period and passing out as I got out of bed to seek help. It happened each and every time I was pregnant. I would pass out even before I found out I was pregnant. It got to be my own little "tell-tale" sign. Certain other things would trigger this like needles, anxiety, standing up from the floor or a hot summer's day.
I've scared quite a few people, including myself when this has happened. There's just something frightening about talking to someone to seeing them fall over on the floor- mid sentence! I've also done some damage to myself and the things around me. One time I fell and smashed up a basket that was full of magazines and almost broke my arm. Another time I passed out without warning while visiting a former student in her kitchen. Luckily, I've not had it happen while driving but I'm very glad that I usually have a warning before it happens.
This medical issue runs in families. I know my mom had it happen. In fact her heart stopped. She needed CPR to keep it going. And just like there can be a variety of different triggers and types of issues, treatment for neuro-cardio genetic syncope also varies. I am supposed to drink a lot of water. I can have as much salt in my diet as I like (yes!! extra salt on that popcorn please!) and practice with my triggers so that I can better predict and stop the loss of consciousness. I also wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace at all times.
Back to my mowing experience...I came into the house in a pre-syncope episode. All alone, I quickly grabbed a glass of water, put my feet above my head and took some calming, deep breaths. When I wasn't light-headed anymore, I grabbed a bag of pretzels and devoured them, even tipping the empty bag up to my lips for the salt at the bottom.
When people look at me, none of this shows on my face or body. I don't have a wheelchair or cast to indicate that there's a problem. I look young and healthy. And while my medical condition is under control...I have to keep it in mind at all times. Each time I pass out, my heart stops. But I don't let it rule my life. I'm too sassy for that. And sometimes like today... too sassy to remember my triggers.
~~Live each day to it's fullest...Dance in the rain, sing like no one is listening, and laugh... It's the best medicine!~~
Gator Girl Extraordinaire