Saturday, May 9, 2009

Re-Learning How to Live

May 9, 2009

We're always getting ready to live, but never living.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night the simple task of putting sheets on my bed jolted me back to the reality that t I am living a very fragile life these days. One minute I was pulling on that fourth and final corner of the sheet and the next moment I'm sitting on the floor yelling for my roommate to get my Nitroglycerin spray.

Several sprays and slow deep breaths later the pounding in my chest slowed back down and I was ready to settle into the bed that my roommate finished making. She had been unaware that I was having to undo and remake the bed after the cleaning lady put my electric blanket underneath my sheets rather than on the top. And I only thought removing and remaking the bed would be tiring - not joltingly painful. Putting sheets on the bed has now been added to my ever growing list of "Don't ever do that again" activities.

Every day I am reminded of things I can no longer do. Commercials on TV for Six Flags sadly remind me I will never again ride a roller coaster. Seeing Lance Armstrong make another amazing comeback reminds me that i will never again feel the thrill of coasting down a mountain road on a racing bike. Watching someone else clean the apartment reminds me that I can't vacuum (which I actually love to do) or clean like I feel I should since I am just "sitting home doing nothing" while my roommate works 60+ hour weeks as a nurse. Last week a scary drive home in the dark showed me that my long distant (or even short distant) night drives that I once loved are now unnerving, blood pressure raising dangerous journeys.

I'm not writing all this to feel sorry for myself but to remind myself and anyone reading this that we all need to remember to "seize the day" that we have each and every day. Had I know three years ago that I was riding my last roller coaster I think I would have gone "just one more time" before leaving the park that day.

I've now been back home for a full month and I'm finding my energy is waning a little each day rather than increasing. Last week it took me three days to get out to the store when the week before I was able to get out to the store three times in one week. All the pep talks and telling myself to "Never, never, never give up!" can't make this tired body do something it simply cannot do.

There is so much I would love to do in the months to come. I long to visit friends - in south Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri and my siblings in Michigan and Arkansas. A few years ago I would have just driven there but my days of 6-12 hours of driving have ended. I want to go to the zoo, see the World Aquarium in Dallas, visit Shamu once more and learn to play golf.

I want to ride a horse, ride in a convertible with the top down, swim in the ocean, play in the snow, swing on a swing set and go down a slide. I would love to romp with a dozen beagle puppies, fish on a lake, ride, hike in the woods, take a spontaneous road trip, sail on a catamaran and walk on a mountainside. I would love to see the Grand Canyon, the trees of Washington State and the rock formations of Arizona.

But today I would just love to go someplace - any place that isn't Walmart or a doctor's office. I just want my world to get a little larger than this room I call home.

None of us really know what wonderful lives we have until suddenly a portion of that life is taken from us. If you can do something today that you would miss if you could never do it again then I challenge you to do it - do it today if you can. When I went to work on September 4th I had no idea I would be in the ER five hours later fighting for my life and entering the world of open heart surgery, heart caths, heart attacks and stents and months in the hospital.

So that one thing you've been putting off - stop putting it off. And even that one chore you really don't like doing but would miss the ability to do - do it like it might be your last time to do it.

Today I'm going to try to find just one thing to do that I haven't done in a long time but won't make my heart scream at me. Anyone up for a game of Scrabble?

From the Heart,