I think it was around January 2011 I really started having severe health problems. I went to the urgent care center in my area because I was having pain. I thought maybe I had a kidney infection. I was thinking about waiting until Monday so that I could go to my primary care doctor, but my sister talked me into going to urgent care.
Well, when I arrived at the urgent care center they took my blood pressure during the “triage” phase of the visit. My bp was something like 210/125. If you are not familiar with what an average blood pressure rating is, a normal good bp should be about 110/70-ish. My bp was in the heart attack/stroke range. Scary stuff. The worst part is, I knew I had high blood pressure and was on medication. So medicated, my bp was scary, potentially deadly high.
As it turns out, my sister was friends with the urgent care doctor who saw me and he told her to take me to the ER, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. He sent paperwork with me and forwarded his analysis on to the hospital. I think I have written before on this blog about how badly they treated me at this hospital. Bottom line, I did end up going back to my doctor and a heart doctor. I was put on three different medications and we were finally able to get my bp somewhat under control.
About 9-10 months later, I decided to have the gastric by-pass surgery. I saw a couple of different surgeons around November/December time frame. January/February 2012, I was back in the hospital having pains in my right side. Crippling, unable to get out of bed pains. So, back to the hospital. I had tests done to my pancreas, my digestive system, my liver, my spleen, my heart again, and my lungs. One doctor thought I might have a clot in my lungs. It was awful.
They never really were able to find out what was going on exactly, but here is sort of what they found. My liver was slightly enlarged. As was my heart. And I had so much weight on my stomach that the base of my lungs were crushed. They did every blood test imaginable to make sure that everything was OK. My liver functions were good, except my cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol, was really bad. My triglycerides were out of control. Basically, I talked to my doctor and they were really concerned that I was beginning to show signs of heart disease, which runs in my family. I saw the heart doctor again and had a stress test and another scan of my heart. I will probably have to do annual visits with the heart doctor to make sure that my heart stays in pretty good condition.
Around March, I finally found a gastric by-pass surgeon that I liked and decided to go proceed with getting ready for the surgery. I then had nearly every medical test known to man. Or at least it felt that way.
Somewhere during all of this a friend of mine talked to me about transcendental meditation. He told me that he meditated all of the time and has for years. I was a little bit surprised. He gave me some pointers, told me what he did, and how it helped him. He was really sure that it would help me with some of my problems.
Well, as I am wont to do, I put off taking his advice for months. I finally did start meditating off and on for a few months sometime in 2011. I meditated off and on throughout 2012 as well, but not nearly enough as I should have. Since the surgery, I have not really meditated at all, until just a few weeks ago. I should back up a little before I continue though.
About 15-20 years ago, I really got into Yoga. I was never very flexible, but I enjoyed the exercises and the meditating that came with it. After my father died in ’96, the meditating became too hard for me. I was really a mess, and the yoga/meditation just seemed to bring everything to the fore. I quit and never went back. I always regretted that decision.
A couple of months ago, after I started feeling better, I occasionally started doing some of my old yoga stretches. Not regularly, but sometimes. This eventually led to me trying to meditate again.
I have done some guided meditations using a website a friend gave to me. When I get home, I will add a link here. My mother also sent me some tapes that I have been listening to. I also started trying to meditate on my own without guidance. The guided meditations are easier because you can focus the person speaking and just relax.
Meditating and trying to clear my head on my own is very difficult, but I find it to be much more satisfying. It is very interesting. When I do not have someone else’s voice to focus on, I focus on a thousand other things. My nose is itchy, my foot twitches, I have to flex my hands or arms, if I could just sit straight. Also, everything that has been bugging me all day seems to run through my head. I think about writing. I think about blogging. I forgot to send someone an email. I can hear the refrigerator clicking on and off. Someone is knocking on another apartment door down the hall. It is very distracting.
Here is what I do. I turn down the lights. Turn off the tv. Turn off the cell phone. Turn off my google pad. Turn off both laptops. I sit in the center of my bed. I do not lay down. I close my eyes and breathe. I dismiss all of my distracting thoughts one by one by saying now is not the time and I vow to get back to it later. I concentrate on letting them go. I focus on the positive things I want to bring into my life. I focus on calm, peace, good health, love, etc, whatever it is that is going to get me to relax and just let go of everything I have been holding onto all day. I focus on being open to all of the good that I want in my life and the lives of those I care about and focus on letting go of the negative.
If I can shove all my distractions aside, clear my mind and relax even if it is just for a moment, it feels like a miracle. I feel a thousand times better. Usually, once I am done meditating, I do actually turn in for the night. I have been sleeping like a baby.
I would not say that meditating has opened a third eye into the universe for me, but I do feel different afterwards. Of course, I have not been doing it for very long. There’s something to it though. I come away from the experience feeling something. Right now, it’s kind of an intangible feeling that is difficult for me to put into words, but if feels like I’m connecting to a part of myself that I did not know that I had. I also experienced a couple of interesting things that have me thinking. Maybe I’ll be able to talk about it more precisely in the future after I have had time to contemplate my emotions and thoughts, but I am curious to know more.
Today, I signed up for Yoga classes. When I did Yoga years ago, I went to Unity Woods over in Tenleytown, which is in DC. Turns out they have a branch in Arlington. All in all, I did enjoy doing Yoga there and I cannot imagine doing it anywhere else. I am glad to be getting back into Yoga. My body definitely needs the stretching and the strength building after what it has been though. Plus, it would be great to continue with meditating.
I do not know what health benefits all of this will have, if any, but it certainly could not hurt. Even if all this does is help me relax to take the strain off of my heart and liver or to keep me from developing full-blown heart disease, I will consider the foray into yoga and meditation a wild success.
Oh and for the record. My blood pressure is in somewhat normal range. Occasionally it tends to trend a teeny-tiny bit high, like 135/80 max. I have not taken any medication for three months.