life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

life, love,art. heart failure and assorted ramblings

Don't Talk Like That...

I write to find out what my heart thinks....
I write to expose and work through the ugly parts of this disease, open heart surgery that was less than successful and more recently an S-ICD (internal cardiac defibrillator) implanted in my chest that will hopefully restore my heart beat in case of sudden cardiac death. I am here to celebrate my life, to uncover my fears, to hold on to love, to learn how to live a full life with heart failure, to honor my creativity, and to explore all of my emotions out loud ...before anyone can say
"Don't talk like that!"


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Music is loading really slow lately...sorry...

Monday, August 30, 2010

High School Reunion

Graduating from a small town high school, there was a very strict sense of appropriate southern lady-like behavior. I learned early how to bend the truth to fit the unrealistic expectations.

My 1972 classmates shared pictures of the latest high school reunion and I did not recognize my youth or the people I so desperately needed approval from.

I am still releasing my small town high school expectations.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Elusive Passion

My adult life has included the respectable roles of daughter, wife, mother, grandmother. Each role had well-defined tasks that were judged by how well I took care of others. If they gave grades, I suspect I would pass.

However, if my life is graded by how well I took care of me, I fail.

When I was afraid, I hid in the roles I knew I could pass.

I am searching for a new role.

I am searching for the life and passion that comes from knowing why I am here. The passion that explodes with the energy I so desperately need.

Art has given me a glimpse of elusive passion. I know it exists!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

I wish I could go back to the time when my sibling relationships were easy.

We have been forever united by Christmas Eve dinners, kick the can, squirming in the family pew, long bike rides, Betty's fried chicken and spaghetti-os. Of course there is also the strongest bond (not a blood relationship) that unites all siblings, the unfair household chores imposed by heinous parental tyranny.

Time passed and our lives filled up with money, marriages, divorces, deaths, and religion and we lost the real magic that only of brothers and sisters can know.

I wish I could have that magic back!

Friday, August 27, 2010

OK

Every now and again, in a fearful moment, I feel the weight of my own judgment and wonder if I would do things differently if I could start all over again?

I honestly think I would not change anything, but I am not haughty enough to say that with a great deal of conviction. Everything I have done, right and wrong is responsible for making the person I have become. The person I am is not great, but it is ok.

I am learning that there is no shame in ok.
Ok is not perfect but it is relatively free of remorse and regret.
Ok is good.

Love and Rules


Why do we think love needs rules?
Love transcends rules!

Natural Balance

Nature and the universe exhibit the miracle of balance every day. For every night, there will be a day. Even today’s opinionated media exhibits natural balance, for every “Howard Stern” that comes forth, a “Glenn Beck” will erupt. The love and peace that passes all understanding cannot be found in the chaos of the extremes, but in the gentle landscape of balance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Remember the Truth!

A hostile heart failure coupe has taken my identity, disrupted my life’s purpose and undermined my self-worth. It was a fast and incredibly effective onset and in a state of upheaval and disbelief, I was unable to mount an effective defense. “Cheryl, the victim” consumed me.

Confusion is this disease’s weapon of choice as it hurls a barrage of mixed messages.

My heart is the primary source of love and life but my heart is dying.

A primary care doctor can order and Medicaid will pay for a mammogram and a colonoscopy to look for a disease I do not have, but severely limits cardiologist visits’ for a disease that I do have.

I am told go immediately to the ER for the slightest chest pain but I am sent to the free clinic to reduce hospital visits.

I have a very small balance left on my 2010 Medicaid outpatient services allowance, and turned away by doctors because of it, but have an almost unlimited hospital budget and a very generous hospice allowance.

I am consistently challenged by the rules and regulations of Medicaid, embarrassed that it has become my only option but grateful that it is available.

Medical inconsistent and authoritative nonsense undermines my intelligence and self-confidence.

Muddling through this disease, I am learning that if confusion is its effective on going weapon of choice, my best defense will be the truth.

The truth is I am intelligent, I have and will continue to contribute, I still have purpose, I have value now, and I am only a victim if I allow it.

I have to be on constant guard and always remember the truth!
(but it is not easy)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Student is Ready

This failing heart tries to convince me that I no longer have the strength or courage to accomplish a significant life.

I need to recognize that these times can be my best teacher. If I can transform these destructive situations into learning experiences, I will become confident enough to actively pursue the life that continues to evolve with meaning and purpose.

Discounting my feelings and fears insures that life’s most valuable lessons will never be learned.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
I embrace my failing heart as my teacher

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Look Out! Pity Party in Progress

Life is throwing curves, one after another. Finances, family and home hurl crisis after crisis. I long for normalcy but find myself in situation after situation that can best be labeled as uncharted lunacy.

I am counseled to relax, avoid stress and take it easy, while I watch our finances, home and family literally crumble around me.

This is not life it is crisis management.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Swim Parallel to Shore!

I am a Florida girl, one of the few born and bred in the sunshine state. Our typical TV weather always include coastal ocean reports, not just the normal tidal information and water conditions for boaters and fishermen but regular rip current warnings for swimmers, too. Rip currents are incredibly strong irregular narrow currents that appear sporadically and surge through the surf from the beach directly out to sea. Many coastal drowning deaths are attributed to swimmers caught in these invisible erratic currents.

It is impossible to fight the intensity of the fast moving waters by swimming directly against the current into shore. Rip currents are normal occurring situations that can overwhelm even the strongest swimmers. However, the TV weatherman consistently reminds us that there is an easy way out of this extremely dangerous situation if we resist the natural urge to get to shore right away and do not panic.

Swim parallel to the shore.
Get out of the strong current. Do not fight it head on.
Once out of the current then turn and swim easily back into the shore.

I feel like I am caught in a rip current, expending all of my precious energy while still being pulled out to sea. This morning’s coastal rip current report and reminder to swim parallel to the shore was the perfect metaphor! It is time to resist my natural urges to get everything back the way it used to be. If I resist my natural urges to be my old self and do not panic when I cannot live up to the old expectations, then I can figure out how and what I want this life to be, without swimming directly against this heart failure current.

I have to swim parallel to the shore first!

Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Putting it Out There!

As a traveling outdoor art festival artist, you can imagine how my life changed post MI. Actually, the economy had already done a number on it; the heart attack finished it off. I miss my gypsy life! However, I missed creating even more.

Tonight is my first exhibition (at a local gallery, with six other wonderful women) and I am scared to death. In the past, my work has been about pretty pictures that appealed to potential buyers. www.cherylevans.net

This work is about my journey. Sometimes dark, sometimes wishful, none of it pretty.

It is a new artistic voice and it is very different from what it used to be.
What if they all expect to see the old stuff?
I am terrified!

I cannot survive in the dark WHAT IF
When the magic and light is here NOW

Friday, August 13, 2010

Silent Screaming!

I had no idea how hard this would be!
I had no idea it would be so lonely!

I have so many questions and no right answers!
Positive thinking and gratitude is the BS I fling around when I have nothing else!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Small Things


I don't do great things.
I do small things with great love

No Future

Years ago, I remember fussing at my children to work harder for their high school grades or they would not get into college and without college, they would have no future.

Now I find myself with no future, going back to college.

Life never makes sense!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I Have to Succeed

Does it really it matter where I look for success? Doctors, family, God, friends or self, as long as I find the courage to emotionally succeed!

"You know, I had to succeed because I finally ran out of things that wouldn't work." - Thomas Edison

Friday, August 6, 2010

Understanding (and the lack there of)

It took some time to wrap my head around this physical situation and I will freely admit, there are days that the simple medical explanations still escape my understanding. However, the understanding that eludes me on a regular basis is the emotional part of this disease.

I find brief periods of peace, and what I certainly feel is the beginning of the final long-term understanding only to have it slip away.

I wonder if I will ever truly comprehend the meaning of this disease and my life. The one true understanding I have is that if I quit trying, I never will understand it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Fine Line

There is a fine line between reality and depression! The trick is to figure exactly where that line is and then precariously balance my life on it. Just like an acrobatic tightrope walker, I am hoping that time and practice will help me achieve a better sense of balance.

Writing is my balance pole.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Expectations

I expected doctors to respect and care about me.
I expected medications to improve quality of life, not just add to the length of the disease.
I expected emotional support to accept and cope with a terminal disease.

Unmet expectations have been my biggest emotional enemy and the source of profound disappointment.

I am learning to take responsibility for the unrealistic expectations that I have created.
I am learning that I have the strength and intelligence to eliminate these expectations.
I am learning that the only person I can expect anything from, is me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Afraid of Failure

I wonder how much depression I endure simply because I am afraid of failure.

My unconscious plan to protect myself from failure was wonderfully simple.
Do not attempt normal (pre heart attack) life!
It was a sure bet, if I did not attempt it, I could not fail!

Unfortunately, my unconscious effort to thwart failure,
guaranteed I would not succeed either.
The more I resisted failure the more depressed I became.
The more depressed I became the more I resisted failure.


What if… the lack of success (not the lack of failure) enables depression?

What if… failure is the only way to produce those sweet sweet successes?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Change in Beliefs, I Am Fine (just a little slower)

I am finding that my best prescription does not come from a pill bottle! I do not need a doctor’s prescription or another trip to the pharmacy. All I need is a change in beliefs!
My heart is doing the best job it can, it may not be perfect or strong but it allows me to do anything I want to do and that is enough for me. I am fine! (just a little slower)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Less than I Expected

A year ago, I did not think about what I expected from my life, but I am certain it was not this. In addition to dealing with this physical disease, I am grieving the loss of the life I expected even though I never truly defined the life I expected.

The gift (yes I said gift) of heart failure is the emotional healing that seems to begin as I am able to identify specifically what I have lost. Just as my physical losses were diagnosed through medical tests before a treatment can begin, my emotional expectations and losses have to be identified, before solutions can be found.

The REAL healing begins as I admit and accept that this life is less than I expected.