Picture it: winter in a western suburb of Philly, 2004.
It was a blustery day when my new son and I visited our midwife for my first postpartum appointment. I was happy and tired, as many new mommies are. My son was thriving and I weighed twenty pounds less of the 200 pounds I was during childbirth. I remember being so happy the heaviness was melting away. God bless breastfeeding! My vanity pageant was cut short after my blood pressure reading came back somewhere in the neighborhood of 195/115. For readers who are unfamiliar, healthy blood pressure is in the area of 120/80 or less. “Are you sure you feel OK?” the nurse asked repeatedly during my visit. I was feeling great, but the concern on her face worried me. Was I OK? What or how was I supposed to feel at that moment?
I sat in a rocking chair trying to calm myself and lower my blood pressure because I was not allowed to leave the office until my reading was less of a concern. Please note that I had no idea what I was doing. How does one physically lower their blood pressure? On this day I began a lifelong co-dependent relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Miss Phillyborn, time to get acquainted with not-so-awesome side effects of your prescribed drugs which include dizziness, dry cough, and impaired vision. Say “hello!” to daily doses of Hydrochlorothiazide, Lisinopril, Metoprolol, and learning how to pronounce these names. Get used to some beta blockers that suck potassium from your body, resulting in small muscle spasms all over- all the time. Lastly, get acquainted with checking systolic and diastolic measurements and carrying a blood pressure monitor everywhere. Sheesh! I remember how emphatically anti-medicine I was because I simply do not like forced relationships. Do not tell me I have to take pills every day for the rest of my life. I will fight back! However, the stubbornness subsided once I remembered the little life I was responsible for. My son needs his mama- and that’s that.
In the past year, my blood pressure has become more of an issue so I made changes to my lifestyle for the sake of my health. I finally quit smoking (WOOHOO!), increased my physical activities, and started eating clean…well, cleaner. Burritos and soul food won’t eat themselves. The more I changed the more I became aware of my body. I became aware of my shortness of breath while sitting down. I noticed when I felt like I was not breathing and the random increases in my heart rate. I feared any unsystematic heart flutter or spotty image was a sign I was about to have a heart attack or stroke. It took some time before I realized these were responses; my body’s response to a certain energy was to cringe and not let go. I am only 35! This is not how I want to live my life.
Last week I woke up with a tingle in my left arm and a very fast heartbeat. I debated calling out of work then affirmed that my health was important. My blood pressure reading reached 198/120. I could not help but be concerned for my son who, thankfully, was away visiting his father. I did my best not to think of the worst but it was a challenge. I called my doctor and rushed to the office. I was given some drug to lower my blood pressure. As I waited for the magic pill to do what it does I started crying out of frustration. My prescribed treatments were not working. I am genetically predisposed to this condition. I made healthier choices but my condition was getting worse. I could have used a different method of birth control. I knew better than to start smoking. The spiral of negative thoughts was increasing its speed and I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest. I realized the real problem wasn’t genetics or drugs; it was my physical response to negative emotions. Whenever I am fearful and start to panic my heart races and I feel exhausted. I stop breathing. Having a fearful mindset restricts my body to the point where it feels like my heart is shutting down.
Out of all that I began thinking about a program I once saw on PBS. I was channel surfing on a random Sunday afternoon and came across this program hosted by Dr. Lissa Rankin, licensed doctor of medicine and author of “Mind over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself” (2013). The good doctor discussed her book (of course) and the spontaneous remission project- a medical journal of cases citing the remission of diseases or cancers without medical treatment. WITHOUT MEDICAL TREATMENT. In her program, Dr. Rankin discussed a case where a man was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He decided he and his wife would move to some remote place in Greece and live out the rest of his days care-free. After some time the man returned to his doctor and discovered his cancer was completely gone! Referring back to the spontaneous remission project, Dr. Rankin suggests locating an affliction in the text provides clinical proof that it is not impossible to cure an “incurable” disease or cancer. That day in the doctor’s office I mulled over this experience and decided I would defeat hypertension. I am willing to live and enjoy my life and let go of whatever it is that puts any part of Me at disease. Letting go of whatever it is I need to let go of is not longer a choice. It is a matter of life or existence.
I toast my hypertension med cocktail to spontaneous remission: here’s to living a life with a new heart. One that works just fine on its own!
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”- Lao Tzu
For more information on the spontaneous remission project or Dr. Lissa Rankin please visit the links below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ8MaLuBreQ (Dr. Lissa Rankin)