Life threw a plot twist at me. It didn’t even have the decency to foreshadow the event. Very rude. I had no time for this in the middle of launching a book! Ironically, my personal plot twist (a heart attack) touched on a theme from my upcoming novel—fear.
That’s the beauty of fantasy stories. You can take a concept out of our everyday world, look at it differently, and gain new insights. But do the insights work in the real world?
After experiencing a heart attack, I can report that conquering fear works as well in practice as it does in a fantasy adventure.
Here is my reality story
You may have heard that heart attack symptoms can be confusing in a woman. True. Every woman that I’ve told this to asks me for the details, so I’ll be complete, even though one detail is gross.
The first symptom felt like hunger. A few minutes later, diarrhea hit. I assumed I’d picked up a stomach bug of some sort. Then a weird pain started in my sternum. Yeah, that’s in the chest, but my bone hurt, not my heart. It wasn’t even on the left. Then came the rush through both arms and up to the top of my head. Intense sweating next. It all ebbed and flowed, so I lay in bed feeling awful and hoping it would go away.
After ten minutes, I called for an ambulance. (Copy me on this if you ever suspect a heart problem! DO NOT spend days hoping it will go away. That isn’t how the heart works.)
At this point in telling my story, I usually hear, “That must have been so scary!” I don’t fault anyone for thinking that. We are programmed to fear heart attacks. People die from them. People are debilitated by them. Good source material for fear, right?
Actually, I’ve been challenging fear for several years, and it gets easier with practice. So no, I was not afraid. I was uncomfortable. I did not want to face a heart attack or whatever this bad thing was. But fear simply had not occurred to me yet.
About the time I was being lifted into the ambulance, a thought went through my head. This is really happening, and it’s not good. I don’t do fancy prayers, but I know God loves me, so my silent prayer went something like: God, I can’t do anything about this, so I need you to take care of it for me. His answer: I’ve got you, along with a strong feeling of being safely held.
From that point on, I figured my one useful task was to rest. So I did. About halfway through the twenty-minute drive to the hospital, it dawned on me that any normal person would be afraid. Shouldn’t I be concerned? What ramifications lay ahead—what effect on my future? I considered for a second, then decided. No. Rest is working quite well—I’m staying with that.
Please don’t think I’m bragging. It took me a long time to even realize this was possible. Fear is common in our world, but it is not normal. It is not useful. It is not required. You DO NOT have to bow to fear.
Back to my story. I’ll spare you all the details, though I must offer gratitude for all the medical staff, friends, and family who supported me during a hard time. They were all wonderful. I’m now three weeks past the big event, and I want to tell you the results of my non-normal approach.
First, enduring a health challenge without fear is far more comfortable than worrying all the way through it. I’ve tried both approaches. Rest is way better.
The heart attack was caused by a blood clot in an artery. Fun fact. I have unusually large arteries. My cardiologist walked into my room the next morning with a huge smile, and said, “You turned out to be really interesting!” Huh. Well, at least she was smiling.
Within 24 hours of the first chest pain, I felt fine and still do. After many tests, the cardiologist reported that I have healthy arteries, valves, and heart muscle. I asked about damage to my heart, and she said, “Very little,” with strong emphasis on very.
I was in the hospital for six days because of an IV blood thinner. Fortunately, the nurses showed me how to put the heart monitor on battery power, so I could get around on my own. I was released with no restrictions, and I’m back to my regular exercise.
Sound too perfect? I love how this worked out, and I won’t apologize for it! Some call this a miracle. Some say my good results are from getting to the hospital fast. Both may be true. I’m just thrilled that I sailed through without fear.
I find one thing strange. When I talk about having no fear, either during the event or in my ongoing activities, I get worried looks and advice. Be careful…be safe…abundant caution is best. They mean well, I’m sure.
Our society seems to believe that the absence of fear is denial. Fear is assumed to motivate wise actions. The reverse is true, but few realize it. If you stand against fear, expect pushback.
There are many challenges in life, and we will all go through some of them. Challenges may turn out well–or not. Fear never prevents them or makes them easier. It can make them worse. I will defy fear the rest of my life, no matter how many people think I’m wrong.
I’ve told you my story to encourage you. Fear CAN be overcome. It’s incredibly freeing, so I hope you start your own anti-fear mission.
What? Writing news?
Oh yeah, this is a newsletter. I still have a book coming out. To Form a Passage will arrive a month later than planned, but still very soon. I’m hoping early November for the ebook. The print book should be available in time for Christmas shopping. (Can you believe that’s getting closer?)
Watch your email for announcements.
May you live free of fear,
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