Back in 1988, I divorced my husband of 5 years. When he left me the house, that is all I had along with my personal possessions from before the marriage. That amounted to a single bed, a dresser my clothing, some various kitchen items and my director's chair. Many of my things were in paper grocery bags on the floor in the living room. There wasn't really anything else in the living room since he took all of the furniture, so it was a nice storage space for now.
When I would get home from work, I would sit in that chair and stare at the walls for what seemed like hours. Day after day, other that taking care of essentials, staring. After what seems like a month or more of that, I finally said to myself that it was time to act. I cleaned up the grocery sacks, tossing what was no longer necessary to keep, remodeled the house right down the rewiring it, replacing bad walls, building shelving and repainting. When I moved, it was a chance to begin again, spending years living above my sister's family.
Now retired and freshly off a heart attack, I find myself sitting in an office chair, staring at walls again. My sleep is interrupted with thoughts of blacking out, losing time from my brain protecting my body on that day when my heart decided to malfunction. I am sometimes afraid to go to sleep, recalling that involuntary blackness I experienced that I could just as easily not have returned from. I am contemplative and sullen and not very fun to be around right now. I look at all the things I have, recalling that day when I had next to nothing and was quite happy to be in that place.
This will be the third time in my life where I have had a lot of stuff and felt it necessary to clean out to feel more free. Only this time, I have my stuff, my mom's and dad's stuff, and my deceased wife's stuff - at least some of their stuff - piled up with all of the stuff I own. There is a lot to go through, and this time instead of meticulously going through everything, I am tempted to toss it all in a dumpster, sell the house, buy an RV and hit the road.
They say not to make rash decisions after a major Trauma (yes, with a capital "T"), and I shall not.
But it is tempting.
Heart attacks suck. I know. I had one a week ago. They suck because there is this moment when you think you might have over exerted setting up that tent while camping, and then the next moment you are waking up from passing out, screaming and you don't know why. At least that is what it was like for me.
- Heartburn - long intense heartburn over many days. I get heartburn so frequently it didn't occur to me this was it
- Achy left arm - I have carpal tunnel in that wrist and my arm is frequently achy
- fullness in my left shoulder - I had neck surgery and frequently have a numb, fullness in my shoulder.
I blacked out before I knew what was happening. I woke screaming. I threw up in the ambulance - lucky they know how to get those barf bags under your chin quickly. I blacked out in the ambulance. They suggested that I had CPR performed during that time. Apparently I blacked out again before they put me out and put a stent in my circumflex artery. Then the shoulder, arm and stomach pain all went away.
No, it is not an elephant on the chest pain...at least not for a woman.
I left my place of employment for the past 30 years yesterday. Some folks call that "retirement" but a friend of mind coined it much better, "Happy New Beginnings." I am looking forward to the days of "oh, I don't have to do that right away because I don't have to go work for someone else." And those days are here! Here's to a long, healthy beginning!