learning by ♥

"Learning by Heart" by Nikolaos Gyzis
“Learning by Heart” by Nikolaos Gyzis

It’s funny the twists and turns the course of our lives takes sometimes. Last month we were concerned with moving my failing 97-year-old aunt from elderly housing into my father’s house where my sister, her husband and a couple of home-care aides could make her last days as comfortable as possible. Auntie is hanging in there for now, even perking up occasionally now that she is settled in her new digs.

Sometimes we find ourselves bracing for one event when another unanticipated one appears on the scene. Toward the end of August my hard-working, stressed-out husband had an attack of angina late one night (or was it early one morning?) and landed himself in the hospital. Zounds! But the silver lining to that cloud was that son Nate flew up from Georgia and daughter Larisa came by train from New York and we found ourselves swathed in comforting layers of love and support.

This setback in Tim’s struggle with heart disease has left me frustrated and angry with his doctors. Predictably, I went on a search for a new book to give me some fresh ideas about how to proceed from here. After nearly a year on the vegan diet there has been no improvement in Tim’s health which has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Truly, there are no simple answers.

The book I found, published just this year, is scientifically way over my head, but I’m learning. Learning by heart. About the endothelium layer of the arterial wall. About endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, hypertension, and blood sugar. That there are more kinds of cholesterol than you can shake a stick at!

It seems the traditional 5 risk factors for heart disease (elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking) are not the only ones doctors should be paying attention to. Of the 20 top risk factors there are, elevated cholesterol does not even make the list. Hypertension is #6, diabetes is #11, obesity is #19, and smoking is #20.

For now I am focusing on #1, endothelial dysfunction and what we can do about it. We can do nothing about #8, genetics, but it is interesting to know that there are myriads of genetic mutations causing different biochemical reactions that each play different roles in the development and progression of heart disease.

On a heart happy note, in the middle of all the other excitement, Larisa and her boyfriend Dima got engaged! It’s so nice to have a wedding to look forward to next year, and I’ve been told it will be very unique, non-traditional and unpretentious. Yes!!! ♥

10 thoughts on “learning by ♥”

  1. Good heavens Barbara, what an emotional roller-coaster ride you have been on! It sounds as though your husband is in the best hands of all, with the love you are showing him, and the new knowledge you have been discovering.

    And congratulations to Larisa and Dima! I love the painting, and such an apt title, as you truly are Learning by Love. It’s wonderful to see you here today, I have missed your words. xxx

    1. Things sure have been topsy turvy around here of late – but we have to keep on keeping on, as the saying goes. I’ve missed you, too, Joanne!

      I was happy to find the painting because I’ve been putting the book in my lap, too, and looking up at the ceiling as I try to picture myriads of little cholesterol submarines, antioxidants, nutrients and the many other particles traveling through Tim’s arteries… The human body is utterly amazing!

      We are delighted to welcome Dima into the fold and we’re looking forward to meeting his parents in October. I will give them your congratulations! 🙂

  2. Welcome back Barbara!

    Your auntie is lucky to be surrounded by such a loving family.
    Really sorry to hear about your husband’s angina attack. I’m sure you must feel frustrated that there was no improvement to his health even after eating so carefully for the whole year.

    Please convey my congratulations to Larisa and Dima.

    1. Thank you, Rosie! It feels so good to be back, and I’m looking forward to catching up with you! 🙂

      Auntie can be unpredictable and demanding at times, but they’re doing their best to make her as comfortable as possible up there.

      Frustrated is definitely the word! Perhaps some things cannot be cured using the tools we have now, but I am going to try to stay as current as possible as scientists learn more and more about America’s #1 killer.

      I will give Larisa & Dima your congratulations, too!

  3. Oh Barbara, You’ve been battling all this while. The heart diseases can be so threatening. Also, when someone in the family falls ill, it usually makes that disturbing atmosphere. Keeping calm and peace around helps, which I’m sure you must be maintaining. Learning by heart… lessons for life!

    I felt good hearing from you after so long. Take care!

    1. So true, Sonali, heart disease is very insidious, and stress only adds to the other risk factors. Somehow living in the present moment has become ever more important to us the past few years, but sometimes it seems like life is just one crisis after another. So happy you stopped by today, my friend!

  4. Yes, how things do happen, Barbara. I have had a month like that, with such blessings in the midst of upset. My prayers for your husband to recover well from his latest attack, and for your aunt to hang in there yet. And congratulations on the upcoming wedding: sounds like it will be wonderfully unique and fun! Hope the blessings will prevail.

    1. Blessings in the midst of upset, I love that thought, Diane! I realized some years back that life will always be a mixture of growth and decay, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, and I think it’s time for me to surrender to love and re-absorb that lesson! Thank you for your prayers and I’m doing the same for you, too.

      PS – I’m enjoying your book, even though I’m reading at a snail’s pace these days! I keep my Kindle in my handbag and read when I have to wait in the car or in an office. I try to read at night but then I fall asleep before I even finish a page…

  5. So nice that you’ve got the joy of a wedding to look forward to in the midst of all the stress and anxiety, I hope it all goes well.

    It’s difficult to know what to do about medical conditions, at the best of time, let alone when things have gone further than one had hoped they would.

    Do doctors in America prescribe aspirin for the heart? Here it’s standard, a small dose (75mg, I think it is) daily. Though not if there is any history of abdominal problems.

    1. I am looking forward to the wedding, Val, and I think it will go very well for me because Larisa & Dima are very laid back and informal. There’s talk of a green dress and an outdoor ceremony in a state park, followed by a weekend of camping…

      Tim’s been on an aspirin regimen since before his first heart attack five years ago. Now he takes 325 mg of aspirin a day and is on six other drugs, to boot. And now I’m adding some supplements and a slightly revised diet. And our son Nate moved his work station down to the basement family room, so Tim can no longer roll out of bed and take one step to get to work. He already seems less stressed by work, having it more separated from the rest of his life. 🙂

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