I was listening to Pandora the other day and the Kinks Destroyer came on the station I was listening to. In it there is a verse that resonated with me.
Silly boy you got so much to live for
So much to aim for, so much to try for
You blowing it all with paranoia
You’re so insecure you self-destroyer
Besides the thought that I could not remember the last time I heard that song, it got me thinking about how after getting home from the hospital how paranoia quickly sets in. I found myself getting overly sensitive to anything going on with my chest. It’s understandable; a critical organ has gone through a traumatic experience. But like in the song, paranoia can lead to a self-destroyer. Worrying about that weird pain or feeling does nothing more than fuel unnecessary stress and anxiety which is the last thing a body (and heart) needs when recovering. So what to do? One technique I’ve found effective in lowering anxiety is developing “action plans.” An action plan is what I would do IF a particular heart event happens. I logically list out the steps I would follow if something where to happen. When I start to sense a feeling of heightened anxiety I mentally go to my list and remember, “If X happens I know what I’m going to do, keep calm and go to step one.” Knowing I have this already thought out I can then start to think to myself, “I’m not going to let this impact what I’m doing/enjoying, I will continue and check back later to see if it’s changed or gotten any worse.” If the condition continues I now have a plan to enact to deal with the symptoms, diagnose and seek treatment. If it was nothing I haven’t let it control me and unnecessarily elevate my stress level.
Now I’m not advocating ignoring your body, actually it’s the opposite it’s how one reacts to the signals causing the alarm bells to go off. How we react and quickly deal with the situation can make a difference in resulting stress. Listening to your body is important, but so is talking back. Tell your body it’s not going to disrupt the great dinner you’re enjoying or the fun playing with your kids. After a heart attack our bodies go through a lot of changes. New medications are flowing through our blood, the heart is dealing with the trauma and has to align to the “new” normal of working around muscle tissue no longer able to function as it use to. All of this leads to feelings and sensations we are not accustomed to and this lasts many months after leaving the hospital. I’ve found not letting the feelings and worry overtake my thoughts and what I’m doing is allowing me to enjoy living. I’m not letting the stress and anxiety of paranoia win.