Updated: Jan 21
Author's Note: I originally published this post on my CaringBridge site on August 5, 2020... I've shortened it somewhat for this blog.
Here we are, 9.5 days after my heart attack, and I have almost never felt better! Okay, that's going a bit too far. How about, "I haven't felt this well in a long time!" My blood pressure is healthy, my appetite has returned, I'm sleeping decently well, and I'm feeling solid on my feet (as long as I don't whip my head around too quickly, haha). To me the most surprising aspect of my recovery, though, is my newfound MENTAL CLARITY. I'm not exactly sure when I discovered/realized that I have adult ADD (attention deficit disorder) or -- as I like to call it -- Attention Inconsistency Syndrome. I have always had lots of attention; however, it's not always allocated in socially appreciated ways. :) This special feature of mine became more noticeable to me when I married my pediatrician dance partner, Dr. Doug Whitman in 2001. Not only is he an Excellent Dancer and a Whiz with Medicine in Kids, he's also an Efficient Planner and Organizer and Solver of Problems and an Upfront Communicator and a World-Class Checker-Offer of To-Do lists. And he's Opinionated, and Decisive, and East Coast. (Doug grew up in Montgomery County outside Philadelphia, PA to be specific.) So... this Soft-Hearted, Smart, Artistic, Creative but Rule-Following Daydreamer Farm Girl from Rural Western Nebraska (Kimball, to be specific) began to learn of all the ways that she and her husband were delightfully/exasperatingly different from each other. My hidden superpower of ADD was not too much of a problem for me until I had a baby in 2003. In the past, I had always been able to kick into high gear in the last minute (late at night, usually), become hyper-focused on my goal, and produce terrific results just barely under the final deadline of my current assignment/project. Suddenly as a new mother I couldn't rely on a good night's sleep to recover from an adrenaline-laced mania the night before... In fact, I felt like I could never catch a break from the relentless demands of motherhood. The problem worsened when my baby became a 2.5 year old kid and I had another baby. That was in 2005, when I was 40 years old. My struggles manifested as depression, and I began mental health counseling (shout-out to Deb Westcott), taking antidepressant medication and finding external support for my mind-wandering mind. In January of 2014, I had a hypertensive episode that sent me to the Poudre Valley Hospital ER with symptoms of a possible heart attack. My blood pressure was in the 180s, and the red-flag protein troponin appeared in my bloodstream. I was admitted and underwent a heart catheterization at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. Reassuringly, my coronary arteries turned out to be "clean as a whistle" and it was confirmed that I had not suffered a heart attack. An interesting finding was that my coronary arteries were unusually tortuous (twisty/curvy), which was either an inherited configuration or the result of chronic (undiagnosed) high blood pressure. I was instructed to stop taking Concerta for my ADD, to begin taking Strattera instead, and begin taking the blood pressure medicines Amlodipine and Losartan. That brings us to 2020. I had continued to experience brain fogginess, memory challenges, and the frustration that I was only rarely able to focus well enough to achieve the modest goals I was setting for myself (e.g., getting dinner on the table before bedtime). Since my heart attack 9.5 days ago, I have felt a dawning sense of clarity in my thought patterns. I titled this journal post "Blessed Lucidity" because I am extremely relieved and grateful about the restored mental clarity that has come to me. Whether it was the cessation of my BP meds or of Strattera (for ADD), or the addition of new medicines, or the acuity brought about by an existential crisis, or all of the above plus "special sauce," I am happy to be HERE and to now have Blessed Lucidity.
Thank you for reading!