A significant cardiac incident, such as the one I experienced, evokes a gamut of emotional reactions from family and friends ranging from shock to disbelief, friendly advice to empathy. I feel compelled to share them. The road to recovery through rehab and lifestyle changes has been interesting.
Must Be Terrifying
Well-wishers assume the experience must have been traumatic and terrifying. While that may generally be true, it was neither for me. Meditation has taught me otherwise. It is not a morbid obsession to apprehend life’s inescapable terminus. There’s wisdom in paying deliberate attention to one’s breath. It’s a nod to what could be our last breath — tuning into an effortless and involuntary act that seldom gets noticed.
Barring a miracle of Science, no biological system can exist in perpetuity. And our bodies are no exception. Merely knowing that does little to prepare us psychologically. Confronting a terminal diagnosis or a significant health incident such as a cardiac arrest or stroke can get overwhelming. Ultimately, there’s no way to evade the end of life. But I’d like to think befriending it softens the blow. I have discovered that meditation nudges me closer with every drawn breath. The wisdom is in getting comfortable should it come to pass. I admit letting go of fear or anxiety is easier said than done. But practice helps.
You Are Too Young
The most common reaction was amazement. Fellow patients couldn’t believe I was one too. All attendees of the wellness program were older, most pulling ranks by at least a couple of decades. One thing we had in common was we were all survivors of heart-related incidents — cardiac arrest, heart failure, open heart surgery, stents, pacemakers — the works. I recall a friendly suggestion to get a Living Will made and notarized. Once they warmed up to me, there was an overwhelming sense of compassion, kindness, and an in-group spirit that’s hard to describe. It was understood and accepted that I belonged there and was not a younger impostor mocking their mishap.