I have always loved music, from as far back as I can remember. I got my first radio – a transistor radio – before I was ten. I listened to that radio as often as possible, sometimes listening with it under my pillow when I went to bed. I remember when The Beatles were in their first concert in Houston and I stayed up late listening as the radio played the playlist from the concert. I knew the words to every song on the radio in those days. And I have been adding lyrics and melodies to my collection in my head ever since. Sometimes it’s surprising that I have room for any important information up there.
Years ago I realized that I could readily access a song just by hearing a word or phrase. If someone mentions a day of the week or a city, I just might come up with a song or two that mentions them. Sometimes, I’ll just come up with a partial lyric with no idea what the song is. Other times, things will get a little confused. Like the time we were driving from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Santa Fe and I was singing “Do You Know the Way to Santa Fe?” My husband pointed out that the song was actually about San Jose! Oops, but isn’t that interesting? My favorite is the city of Walla Walla, which is mentioned in a song. If you remember the song The Witch Doctor then you might recall this line: Oo Ee Oo Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang!
It was following my open-heart surgery that I began calling this talent “Magic DeeJay.” In the week before surgery, while I was running around getting ‘ready’ for surgery, the words of Gloria Gaynor were running through my head – “I Will Survive.” It was on replay for four days. The night before surgery was when I first really started thinking about what was going to happen. But the song in my head was by Elton John – “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”
It was November of 2015 that I realized that my talent extended beyond lyrics. Part of recovery from surgery included cardiac rehab – a program of monitored workouts. Three times a week for twelve weeks I went to cardiac rehab. At the end of those twelve weeks, they have what they call graduation. No real ceremony, but you do get a nice certificate. And so, on the morning of November 4th of 2015, Magic DeeJay was playing “Pomp & Circumstance” in my head.
In the Spring of 2016, I decided that the one year anniversary called for a celebration. It was, in a sense, a birthday for me. But my husband and his friend would be in Africa on that date. (And our anniversary, I might add.) So I planned to have Sunday brunch with a friend on May 22nd. I even gave myself permission to over-indulge in food since on the same day the year before, I was not allowed to eat anything. And when I woke up that Sunday morning, Kool & the Gang were singing Celebration.
And that is how I decided that there must be a Magic DeeJay working in my subconscious. And almost always, Magic DeeJay is playing a song in my head.
I have since learned that other people have similar talents. So tell me, do you have songs playing in your head?
Let me start by answering the initial question. The symptoms of aortic stenosis, according to my cardiologist, are shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, passing out, and swelling in feet. I would imagine that they don’t all come on at one time nor are they all always present. In fact, for me, there was no chest pain, dizziness or passing out.
Should my friend worry? No. Do not worry. That reminds me of the movie “Bridge of Spies” about a man named Rudolf Abel. He was a KGB undercover agent in North America for a period of time following World War II. Several times in the movie he was in impossible situations. Such as when he was on trial for crimes against the US and his life was in the balance. Each time, people would ask him, “Are you worried?” His response was to shrug his shoulders and say “Would it help?” So, no, never worry.
Should she be concerned? Perhaps. But lets look at some of the possible causes of shortness of breath – there are many. They include asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, pneumothorax, anemia, lung cancer, inhalation injury, pulmonary embolism, anxiety, COPD, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, obesity, tuberculosis, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary artery hypertension, pleurisy, croup, Guillain-Barré syndrome, sarcoidosis, rib fracture, carbon monoxide poisoning, and aerobic exercise. Yikes! That is one long list. And that list isn’t complete. I omitted the ones I couldn’t pronounce.
Notice that the list includes some really nasty, scary things as well as some innocuous things like aerobic exercise.
Should she have it checked out? Absolutely! It is not something to be ignored. I would suggest talking it over with your doctor. Especially mentioning the family history of aortic valve problems. In fact, it may be time for that first visit to a cardiologist. It’s a good idea to see one beginning about age fifty. Just to get a baseline. And to discuss your family’s heart health history.
Is aortic stenosis hereditary? In fact, it just might be. I found a study in Johns Hopkins Medicine that suggests it could be:
Researchers have found a genetic variant that doubles the likelihood that people will have calcium deposits on their aortic valve. Such calcification, if it becomes severe, can cause narrowing or a blockage of the aortic valve, a condition called aortic stenosis.
I’m always happy to answer questions. Do you have any questions for me? Leave them in the comments below.
I planned this getaway months ago, not knowing at first where I was going. I just wanted to recharge. And I’ve had a lovely time. Very few decisions that I had to make. Did I want breakfast on the deck or the screened porch?
I also have avoided all the election hype. At first, I thought I could go home without knowing the outcome. And I went to bed on Tuesday night feeling very relaxed. Usually it is an anxious night, made more so by all of the media hype. But, you know what? The outcome is the same whether I stay up and stress about it or not. And all that stress just before bed is not good for me. Nor is it good for anyone else.
What did I do during this retreat? I worked on the book I mentioned in my last post. A lot. I had a lot of notes that I condensed to one list. And I am something like 90% done with the first draft. So I’m pretty sure I can beat my deadline of November 16th. That will be a huge accomplishment. The first book I have ever written!
Today I will ease back into reality. I’ll have breakfast here at Bella Green, then load up the car. I’m going to take the scenic route home. Laundry awaits me at home. But so do my cats, Ronnie and Nancy. And of course, my hubby.
It is now 4:25PM as I get ready to hit the publish button. The last few miles of my trip involved lots of traffic, of course. And it was back to the usual things – unloading the car and doing the laundry. That was after I said hello to my cats! But, I have yet to hear any news or radio or commercials!
As I reflect on the week, I come back knowing that I can focus when I put my mind to it. Sometimes while I was gone I turned off the internet so I could concentrate. I think I’ll try that more often now that I’m back!
Here I am.
With an update on some of what I’ve been doing. First the yoga:
I am now in my fourth month of doing yoga. I can tell in many ways that I am building strength. I’ve also seen improvement in various pains. Most notable is something that my orthopod called trochanteric bursitis. The trochanter is the part of the femur that connects to the hip bone. This was good news to me. I was convinced that the hip pain I’ve been experiencing was caused by osteoarthritis. My orthopod gave me exercises to do. And it turns out that the therapeutic yoga that I am doing is the same exercise. And the pain is diminished. It has been many weeks since it kept me up at night. So I continue the yoga at least 3 times a week.
I have also been learning how to create journals that can be put on sale at Amazon! How cool is that? Or are you wondering what a journal is? Journals can be many different things. If you’re curious, you can check them out on Amazon by entering “journals in the search box. Basically, a journal can be like a blank or lined journal but it might have additional prompts or information. There are gratitude journals, tracking journals, journals for grief, and many more. I have created one journal already titled “The List Junkie’s List Journal.” If you’re someone who’d makes all sorts of lists, this journal is a good resource. It lets you keep all of your lists together in one book! It was mostly done for practice. Because I have bigger plans for journals! You’ll be hearing about them soon.
In addition, I have been writing a book. I’ve been working on it for more than a year. The reality is that it should have been finished long ago. But it has been very hard to write this first book. The good news is that I have made a commitment to have the first draft completed by November 17th! So I decided to make that commitment public. Will I make that deadline? That is my intention. I’m going away this week on a private retreat. I plan to do a lot of writing while I’m going. I’ll report back later on my progress.
What’s that? You want to know what the book is about? I’ll give you a hint. The working title is “Lessons of an Opening Heart.”
Keep me in your thoughts. I’ll report back here soon on my progress!
My intention with yoga is to do some yoga movement every single day. Of course, reality and intention don’t always work well together. Which is just another way of saying that I can rationalize just about anything if I want to. This week is a prime example.
I made it to yoga on Monday, to the more intense Therapeutic Astanga Method Yoga (TAM) that I talked about last week. In that class I have to remind myself to do only what I can do. I have no idea how long the others in that class have been doing yoga. Longer than me, for certain. Some, I know, are yoga teachers themselves. Nydia was helpful in showing me the how to modify the movements for my level.
Did I mention that this class is heated? I could definitely feel that, too. Near the end of class, when Nydia turned off the heat, she told use that the temperature had gotten to 85 degrees!
Could Your Posture be Hurting You?
Any class that I have joined and stayed in for very long – yoga, aerobics, Jazzercise, Pilates – has been one that stressed doing movements properly. I’m sure that most classes do, but not all as I’ve been in some that did not. It’s important because if you do movements wrong, you can hurt yourself. In yoga, I have learned that I have been standing wrong for a good portion of my life. Perhaps you have too?
When I stand for long periods of time, I tend to shift my weight to one leg and then lock the knee, also known as hyper-extending the knee. Since I started yoga I have learned that this is a bad idea. Here’s why: You’re not using muscles to stand. Instead you’re relying on the skeletal structure to hold you up. This puts extra stress on your knees and results in joint compression. Over time, this can result in damage to the cartilage – osteoarthritis. In class, we are always reminded to have just a very slight bend at the knees. This reduces the joint compression and forces you to use the muscles of the leg.
Knowing that I have serious arthritis issues in both knees confirms everything I hear in yoga class. In fact, I recall no too long ago when I was standing with most of my weight on one leg. When I needed to shift the weight, my knee hurt when I first bent it. Should be listening to my body, right?
The same is also true when you’re using your arms to support your body. If you’re arms are super-straight, you are not building muscle and are just putting extra pressure on your joints. Yikes! So be careful when you see that meme running around Facebook about 30 days of planks!
My Yoga Goals
- Build up strength in the muscles that support the knee. So that I can either avoid or postpone knee replacement.
- Build up strength throughout the body. This is important for all of us as we progress in life. It helps to limit the effects of arthritis.
- Better Balance – The primary reason for many falls is a lack of balance. I want to avoid those falls.
- More flexibility – I have a friend that can be seated cross-legged on the floor and come to standing without using her hands or arms. I want to be able to do that!
- Turn cartwheels – I love to turn cartwheels, even though I have not done so in many years. I have a goal of turning cartwheels on the beach!
Benefits of Yoga
I am learning that yoga is much more than body strength and flexibility. It is beneficial to us in many other ways. It can actually be considered a form of meditation and mindfulness. When you’re doing yoga, you are definitely only in the present moment. It’s hard to think of anything else when you’re thinking about the muscles in your feet, your thigh muscles, you pelvic floor, your abdominal muscles, your shoulder girdle, AND your breathing.
I’ll be talking more about benefits as I continue on my yoga journey.
I have always known that the iPad app was not sufficient for my yoga needs, for at least three reasons:
- It presents a limited selection of yoga poses.
- There is no one with me to tell me I’m doing things wrong.
- It’s more difficult to motivate myself alone.
Someone suggested that I go see Nydia at Nydia’s Yoga Therapy. That was in January and it took me until July to actually do it. Now, less than a month later, I’m kicking myself for having put it off for so long. But it’s all good and everything happens when it happens for a reason.
I signed up for a therapeutic assessment with Nydia as the first step. I wanted her to know about my issues and more importantly I wanted to know if yoga would really help me. So I told her all about my various health issues: my fairly recent surgery, my osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, and thumbs. And I told her some of the things that I wanted to do but could not at this time. Such as playing guitar. The arthritis in my thumbs makes this difficult. And turning cartwheels. I used to love to do turn cartwheels, but have not had the nerve to try one for years. Which brought up something else I needed – strength. In every area – hands, arms, shoulders, knees, hips, feet, legs, you name it. Basically, I want to be able to run and jump and play like normal kids.
That assessment was one long, private yoga session. Breath and breathing is a major part of yoga. And it’s much more than the Inhale/Exhale I got from my iPad app. We spent a lot of time on that. So much that I had abdominal muscles that I didn’t even know I had hurting the next day. But it was hurting in a good way.
The good news is that I learned that my yoga practice can benefit all of my joints and help to protect me from the degeneration that is osteoarthritis. I also learned that it is about doing it right. I’m pretty good at following directions. And I know that when it comes to physical activity, you need to do it the right way. And I know that even I can benefit from this yoga practice.
Nydia sent me home after that assessment with a booklet and links to her website. So I went home and practiced at home. Concentrating on breathing and on feet exercises.
My First Yoga Class
It was nearly two weeks later when I took my first class with Nydia. I wound up in the front of the classroom, facing a huge mirrored wall. I have to tell you I was not prepared for that. I am overweight and out of shape and have lingering edema in my feet, ankles, and legs. I wanted to be far away from the mirror. (I thought about posting a before picture of myself, but I have yet to have the nerve to take that one.) Suffice it to say that I resemble the roundness of this image:
In my mind, though, I am seeing myself in excellent physical condition.
I enjoyed that first class enough to sign up for a total of ten classes. That first class was on a Monday and I went back on Wednesday. This time I chose to have a spot right in front of the mirror. That way I’ll get to watch my progress. I am pleased to tell you that I felt a little stronger and had better balance after just one class. Combined, of course, with the work I have been doing at home.
My Yoga Commitment
I have now been to yoga class four times, but this is only the beginning for me. I have long wanted to get into yoga and now is the time. I know I have limitations now. I just laugh whenever someone says “Sit comfortably on the floor in a cross-legged position.”
I’ll be writing here every week reporting my progress. And talking about all of the benefits of yoga. There are many. So follow me on my journey to see where all it leads!