Year in Review: Me

I plan to write two year-in-review posts. This obviously is the first one, and it will be followed by a technology year in review. Read on for a story of my year going up in flames and then a much happier ending. Where there's life, there's hope.

In 2013, I (links are to relevant posts):

It's a strange list, and I can't decide whether to conclude it was an awesome year or a really crappy one. I'll go with awesome because it is ending well, but holy cow: I hope that's all the awesome I have for a while.

I will always remember this as the year everything changed. I started off thinking, as I recall, anyway, that it would be another year like the last one: ER work and fitting life in around it. I think everyone thinks that in some form. Even after I had the first SVT episode, I didn't know how bad it was going to get: fortunately, it didn't get as bad as it did for this local guy with an issue very similar to mine that was repaired by the same surgeon in the same hospital as me!

Part of me thinks it would've been better to just drop dead and force the issue instead of spending most of year getting sicker and sicker. The sicker I got, the more depressed and anxious I got, and the worse my depression and anxiety got, the more my heart condition deteriorated. I was in the hospital a lot, but I am amazed at how much I did work with all of this going on. I generally felt like death and am stunned I was physically able to work 12-hour night shifts in an ER. Anyway, I did not drop dead, although I passed out a lot, and that did eventually force the issue.

My cardiac ablation at the end of October changed my life. It was so cool. I went in barely able to walk across the parking lot without getting winded and woke up from anesthesia feeling fabulous and pink-cheeked. That experience showed me, right there with the pressure dressing still kinking my neck from my Cordis site, that life is too short to spend working somewhere that makes me so unhappy.

That realization was fortunate because when I walked in the door to go back to work after the surgery, I turned right around and left with a box of my belongings. The universe evidently had taken note of my desire to work somewhere that filled me with joy and purpose and wasted no time directing me to the very one.

I am therefore tying up 2013 learning how to be a good pediatric psych nurse. Had anyone told me I would not only take this job, but also love it, I would probably have just snickered. Everything happened at the only time and the only way it could have happened to end up this way: had I not been so sick and so tired of being beaten down and not liking where I worked, and had I not been so open to considering new things, I probably would have marched lockstep into another hospital job. Without my heart going bazooey and making all of those situations possible, well, I would probably still be stuck.

The tail end of this year I see as the "fabulous prizes" era. November was great. I had a job waiting that I couldn't start yet, so it was a month-long vacation that I used to freelance, read a lot, and clean up my environment. Months of being too sick to do anything around the house had taken their toll. I bought a new car because I commute now. There's no good heading for this, but I also got my hair cut in a short pixie cut. What? Can I be so vain as to put a hairstyle in my year-in-review piece? Why, yes. Because THAT dramatic of a change gives a person a different lease on life.

The gifts kept coming. I was able to spend almost a week for both holidays with my dad. I haven't been able to do anything like that since I became a nurse. He looks great, doesn't he?

dad and me

Most importantly, I came to realize that the feeling of well-being after my ablation was not limited to "I feel better now that I'm not physically sick." It seems that the extreme anxiety and panic I've battled all my life were very closely tied to my heart acting up (read the links to see why something that "started this year" could affect my whole life). They are very, very diminished. Some catastrophic things have happened recently, and I have been able to weather them without freaking out completely. One of the two dysrhythmias I had (the one I still have) is usually missed because doctors write it off as supratentorial and write for anxiety and depression medications. But really it's the dysrhythmia causing the anxiety and depression.

If you don't want to go causal with it, I'll buy that, but it contributes heavily. I had to re-learn what it felt like to have anxiety, because after my ablation, I didn't have the racing heart, sweats, nausea, and syncope. I didn't know I was anxious without those symptoms and had to be told that possibly my loss of appetite and stomach upset were caused by anxiety. The difference is so extreme that I believe I have a chance of handling anything without breaking down now that my body will not betray me. Living with that confidence and without the ubiquitous dread that at any time I could feel crazy (rocketing pulse, sweaty, thinking I am going to die) is all the evidence I need for a mind-body connection.

As a nurse, I will definitely use this going forward. They teach us in nursing school that you have to be holistic, and I thought it made sense, but I did not have my own visceral head-to-heart education until just recently.

Thanks for reading, and may we all have blessings in 2014!