An Oasis of Calm

So people who don’t exercise always look at me and say “why?!”

There are a ton of reasons. I like pizza, and yet I still like to fit in my clothes the next day. Being healthy (not withstanding the pizza) is important to me. I think exercise is important in one’s life, and while I certainly won’t look down on someone who doesn’t exerise, I will always encourage someone to try a new activity and see if it speaks to them.

But the biggest reason I exercise is that it keeps me sane.

Three weeks ago my husband had a heart attack. He’s only 43, but had smoked for 24 years. This is my PSA to say, please don’t smoke. He had one artery–the one that delivers 70% of your body’s blood–blocked at 100%. And another artery blocked at 90%.  His job is quite active, and he eats fairly well, so again, a PSA for not smoking.

My second PSA is to say, if you think you might need to go to the ER, go! We spent quite a bit of Thursday night discussing what might be wrong, before we decided  he’d be fine. No one wanted to be the one to say “we ought to go!”  The next morning he went to work, then decided to come to the ER because of shoulder pain–he thought he might have torn his rotator cuff. Come to find out he was having a serious heart attack. Clearly, we weren’t smart enough to make the decision to go to the ER.

Fortunately for me, from the time they decided to move him from the hospital where I work to the hospital an hour south where  the cardiac specialists are, to when I went home, fed the horses, let the dogs out, met the person driving me south and actually arrived at the hospital, they had already put his first stent in. I didn’t know just how bad it was until they had started to fix it. Thank goodness. He spent the next four days in the hospital, having his second stent put in on Monday and coming home on Tuesday.

I traveled back and forth for the five days. I was fortunate enough to  have drivers over the weekend, and then drove myself on Monday and Tuesday. Since we have the animals, it wasn’t practical to go down and stay.

Not that our neighbors weren’t willing to help. I came home on Saturday to find out that someone had plowed our driveway, clearing the four inches of snow received overnight. Other offers were pouring to help, for which I will be forever grateful. But I don’t trust the horses around people who just aren’t used to horses. Sometimes the beasts move unexpectedly, although not maliciously, and they are a bit heavier than the dogs when they step on you. And so I traveled.

And each morning before I went down I got on the treadmill. That little bit of normalcy gave me the opportunity to run out my anxiety and worry and stress.  For those thirty minutes, my legs pumped, my breath was a struggle to get even and full and my brain was focused on running smoothly. When I got off and showered, I was calm and ready to face the day.

I have always felt better after exercising, for a lot of reasons. There is the “hey, I did it, even when I really didn’t want to.” And the “geez, my body is getting strong, I can’t believe I finished that workout” feeling.  My mood improves (those endorphins are wonderful things), and I can deal with problems better after even a 15 minute walk. I have always realized that nature and exercise make me happy, so of course it was my go-to during such a difficult time.

And I sincerely believe it made it easier to bear. So if anyone is looking for a reason to start an exercise program, I think that is a pretty good one!

PS – it was Saturday afternoon before I got around to asking if they had checked out his shoulder. There was nothing wrong with it, the pain was due his shoulder and arm being starved of blood. Also, he hasn’t had a cigarette since he walked into the emergency room 🙂

 

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