Tag Archives: heart attack

Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 2017

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Linda and the Lack of a Christmas Card–This is Your Christmas Letter 2017

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My two hearts- Granddaughters Tenley age 2.5 and Sophia age 3.5. Next year there will be a third face in the photo. Photo by Stephanie Seccaspina

In December of 2006 I was in Berkeley, California and this little story was a feature in many publications, but years have gone by, so I have edited it. A lot happens with your writing in 11 years.:)

Dec. 14th, 2006 at 6:49 PM– Searching for Goodwill Among Men and Women

It’s pouring rain as I walk around the downtown in Oakland and there seems to be just no mention of Christmas anywhere. No tree or lights–not even a garland, just an over abundance of Peking Ducks hanging in the window due to the pouring rain and few customers.

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St. Mary’s Church on San Pablo Ave. in Oakland, California

The Salvation Army has a Seasons Greeting sign and some Christmas dolls in the window, that’s it. St. Mary’s Church on San Pablo Ave. has over 100 crosses on their front lawn now. I try and count them as I wait for the light. Each one represents someone who died a violent death in Oakland this year. These people were not killed by terrorists, nor cowboys from Nevada. They were killed over drugs, and killed by brothers and sisters, neighbours and old friends.

I decide to take a hike over to San Francisco and give my seasonal wishes to Alan at Goodwill on Mission Street. He tells me the employee Christmas party is tomorrow night and they had to take the tree down as someone complained, and it’s now called the Holiday Party.

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The Castro in San Francisco

On the other hand, all of the Castro district has Christmas trees and one heck of a festive spirit. Windows are beautiful, and even the Pottery Barn has a tree in the window. The cookie shops have their doors open and it smells like home which I miss. I walk slowly and savour each window. Glancing over my shoulder I catch a glimpse of Twin Peaks which is covered in fog, but I can still see sparkling lights all the way up the street.

When I arrive at the record store I find out it doesn’t open up for another 15 minutes so I stand in a doorway to stay out of the rain. My hair is soaking, I look like heck, and I have a cart. A man goes by me, hands me a dollar, and tells me to stay dry. I begin to laugh as he thinks I’m homeless. I thank him anyways.

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The last year the Christmas lights went up on our home before my late husband Angelo shown here with our dog Axel passed away. Miss them both. Read —The Story Behind the Christmas Lights on Stonewood Drive— and–In Memory of The Man Who Loved Christmas

So what happened through the years? Did I miss something? Where has the love gone? Was it stolen by the partridge in the pear tree? Did the Grinch hide it? In reality it’s not the icon of the Christmas tree, nor the decorations that I seek, it’s the love, the warmth, and the fellowship.

I make my way back to the subway and hand the dollar I got from the man in the Castro to a very wet homeless man and give him a hug. He smiles and says,

“Merry Christmas Mam” 
“By the way if you have time we are all going to be sitting in front of Carl’s Jr. tonight”

I laugh at the homeless reference once again and give him the biggest hug I can muster.

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Ange’s last Christmas 2013 and our sons: Schuyleur (Skyler) and Perry. He passed away barely two months later in February of 2014.

In the end I realize that Christmas for some,has basically become just a day most people get presents, even though it’s not supposed to be that way. The season is supposed to be about celebrating what you believe in and family. It’s about loving and sharing, and hopefully keeping those same thoughts in motion for the rest of the year.  We all must remember that the love that he or she gives freely is always there– you just have to stop and listen.

It’s there– trust me– pass it on.

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Tenley and Sophia 2017- Photo by Stephanie Seccaspina–Perfect balance– One to moon the world to not take itself so seriously and the other to make sure she doesn’t moon too much.

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The man in my life who gives love freely and keeps me sane and puts up with all this writing I do daily. I don’t know what I would do without him–Steve Yaver. My neighbour and friend Jennifer Fenwick Irwin. 

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I wish I could tell you how I got into writing and how history has literally taken over my life. I know a small bout of depression was the beginning, but I have figured out it was always somewhere inside of me. After blogging about this and that for 10 years, all of a sudden world politics and rants became lower in interest on the food chain. Knowing about the local past of the Lanark, Ontario population and the Eastern Townships in Quebec became more important to me, and quite honestly an obsession.

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Was it my beloved teacher from Cowansville High School the late great Miss Phelps who named me the recipient of the top award for art honours in Grade 6 even though I can only draw stick figures? What did she see in me? Does creativity count for that much? Was it something I caught from her?

Or, was it from Jimmy Manson—ooops, now known as Jim Manson, who I won the Twist contest with in Grade 5 at Cowansville High School in Quebec? We all know Jim became an iconic history genius teaching at Bishop’s University etc. and was mentored by Miss Phelps. He is now a prominent figure representing Eastern Townships history and also a Brome County Historical Society lecturer among other things.

Small acts of words when shared by many people can transform the world. If we as a community don’t step up to help each other — then who will? My greatest achievement in life is recording community history about the citizens who made it what it is and was. We rise by lifting others.

Whatever you celebrate–enjoy– and from me–Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and the best of the season. Just like Sophia and Tenley– let those feelings go!

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

relatedreading

The Story Behind the Christmas Lights on Stonewood Drive

In Memory of The Man Who Loved Christmas

Linda and Christmas Cards– and the Lack off–This is Your Christmas Letter:) 2016

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Hometown News 2017

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

Don’t Cry for Me Argentina– Heart Disease, Anger and Gnomes

Survivor’s Guilt —Set Adrift on a Memory Bliss

I Had a Stroke – I Didn’t Break My Leg!

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Don’t Cry for Me Argentina– Heart Disease, Anger and Gnomes

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Don’t Cry for Me Argentina– Heart Disease, Anger and Gnomes

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For those reading this going through the same thing I just want you to know you are not alone.

 

They say heart surgery or even receiving a diagnosis of heart disease can change someone’s personality, pretty much like any psychological trauma. Sometimes there can be changes in the brain that cause personality changes, but more often it’s just the shock of recognizing that you have a serious condition.

Every day I sit outside between mosquito attacks dwelling on the lack of time I might have had. When you have cancer in most cases you have time to say goodbye. When I had my strokes I was lucky to be able to talk to my kids. But when you have heart issues sometimes you might not be granted the chance to say any last words when a heart attack hits.

I was briefly told about mood swings, but never to the extent I am feeling them now. Chances are if you angered me 10 years ago, it’s been dug up in the past month and I am mad at you again now. Absolutely ludicrous? I agree– but welcome to my world. Right now there are no solutions for reigning in this rage I have. Talk to someone you say? In reality, years of talking to learned folks never helped me as I am one of the most stubborn people you have ever met. Honestly, I am my own worst enemy, and I listen to no one, and still not about to now.

Today I went all Anthony Scaramoucci on a neighbouring kid. I don’t like having to lock my gates but I have too. The vandalism got so bad at one point in our yard that we had to make a decision to build a gate and fence and basically lock the world out– but things still happen.

This morning I was fuming at WordPress because I couldn’t update anything due to a bug, and then I heard a loud bang outside. I knew trouble was afoot and I recognized the kid from previous events I’ve had to call him out on. It wasn’t a big deal, but he had pushed one of my three foot gnomes over on purpose. You don’t mess with my gnomes trust me.

Instead of just carrying on with life the steam began to rise and I decided to water the garden to calm down. I really believe that all of us have a lot of darkness in our souls– anger, rage, fear, sadness, and I think that in the course of your life you figure out ways to deal with that. When I asked one of my son’s staff how long it took his father to get over the feelings of anger after his heart attack he looked at me sadly and said–“he never did”. Honestly, I  don’t want to be that person, and really want to stop saying daily prayers to the devil as Bob Marley might say to me.

Ten minutes later I saw the kid come back and he put his arm through the fence ready to push the gnome over again. I went ballistic, and the conversation went something like this:

 

“What in the hell are you doing there?” (In an off the Richter scale volume)

 

“Oh, I just want to touch him.”

 

“No you don’t —I saw you push him over before-now leave him the ^&&*& alone!”

 

With that he pulled his arm back and ran off to tell his Mother what the miserable woman who lives in the “abandoned house” (as he calls it) across the street did again. I in turn went and moved my gnomes back 4 feet so he couldn’t touch them again.

They say you should never go to bed mad and just stay up and fight. I have sadness in me. I have heartbreak in me, I have anger, and I can’t seem to move forward. I have to accept that I have heart disease which is never going to go away and I have to deal with medication every single day that I hate.

If you have never had a heart attack it’s hard to explain how I feel and how easy it is for some to say that I should appreciate that I am alive–but– I have 206 bones in my body that I can break and only one heart. Every minute a woman dies from a heart attack and heart disease kills more women than all the cancers combined. It could have been me three weeks ago, and at some point I need to learn to draw the line so I can be responsible for myself again.

But, that is easier said than done, and I have no one else to blame– it’s my choice.

For those reading this going through the same thing I just want you to know you are not alone.

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

relatedreading

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

Survivor’s Guilt —Set Adrift on a Memory Bliss

I Had a Stroke – I Didn’t Break My Leg!

 

GNOMES

 

Is Almonte Now Powered by Gnomes?

 

 

 

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Survivor’s Guilt —Set Adrift on a Memory Bliss

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My iPhone is slowly dying. The poor old gal has served me well but she is having a hard time charging now and making noises of desperation. We’ve all been there– and today I tried to dig out any built-up pocket lint in the charging port causing the connection to be blocked.  Let it be known the kids gave me a brand new iPhone 6 that has been sitting upstairs since Christmas, but I can’t seem to use it. I used to laugh at my late husband because he could never give up anything old–even me. He hung on to every little thing, and a lot of those things are still sitting in a storage unit somewhere.

Since my heart attacks emotions have been running high and strong and it’s been a curse to feel and remember things so deeply. For weeks I feel like I have been trying to earn a purple heart thinking about my lifetime of sad Hallmark moments. After sitting on the edge of life a few weeks ago I am inwardly beating myself up again and asking my inner self why I didn’t do things differently. In essence I am still blaming myself.

Some days I sit in the chair outside and ask myself how I am supposed to let go from every little thing that has happened to me? In all honesty there is no easy way to do it, and years of therapy proved that there are no practical or easy steps. Intellectually, I know what’s right– but it’s just not that easy to work through feelings, accept them, and not blame yourself for years gone by. It’s called ‘survivor’s guilt’ and coming so close to death this month makes you wonder if you will ever get rid of this albatross hanging around your neck. There are no easy solutions to this, no matter what anyone says, and taking a toothpick to my emotional port to clean out the lint is not a solution.

Using that new iPhone is scary to me just like life now. Letting go and moving on has a fear factor because of the unknown. Just like death–nothing more, nothing less–we are afraid of giving up the known. Our identity is so wrapped up in our past, because it’s all we know and it’s who we think we are. Now as I go through emotional difficult painful times I try to look at things from a different perspective.

There is always a lesson we must learn from our suffering– but will I finally get it in time? Everything happens for a reason, and unless we learn the lesson, we will continue to suffer.  Adversity is meant to shape us and to develop our capacity for greater things ahead–and for now I am just throwing it back with the rest.

That’s the way it goes I guess, and I will just keep trying to clean out my connection port. Apparently, it has always been an issue with the iPhone 5– and maybe my dock connector just needs some more cleaning.

 

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relatedreading

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

I Had a Stroke – I Didn’t Break My Leg!

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

 

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Reflections of How I Used to Be….

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Reflections of How I Used to Be….

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Two small mirrors hang precariously on what was once my oldest son’s bedroom bookcase. These mirrors that are still loosely taped with Scotch Tape will never be removed as a long as I am alive as they were memories of comfort for my son. Just two very small mirrors held peace and tranquility as their reflection revealed to him things that might go bump in the night as a child. After all, life is only a reflection of what we allow ourselves to see.

Each morning I have looked in the bathroom mirror and seen the same face I have recognized all my life. Only when I take a selfie do I realize that some where in that mirrored reflection lies wrinkles, worry lines and the aftermath of years gone by that I don’t see.  Would I give it all back for a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two for the girl I once knew in the mirror? Do I miss the person I used to be and used to look at?

When I was a child I told the mirror I wanted to be many things: a social worker, (would have brought everyone home) a doctor, (squeamish at the sight of blood) and a rock star (can’t sing). Then I really tried to have an easy life after many ups and downs and decided it would be better just to be strong, so I’ve had my reflective routines down for years.

The problem with getting older is you still remember how things used to be when you once looked in the mirror. Some days it was distorted and the reflection told you survival was not going to be easy– and maybe you just couldn’t run up that hill anymore. Because of a lonely childhood I used to think the worst thing in the world was to end up seeing just my reflection alone in that mirror. Maybe I just expected too much. In all honesty I really don’t understand the conflicting reflections I see in this world and still choose to remain quite naive. Some days I get banged up emotionally and hold myself hostage because that’s who I am and don’t face the fact that not everyone is meant to stay in your life.

Is there a point where you begin to give things up and not look at them anymore? Can I die while I still remember who I am –and who I used to be in that reflection? As Winnie the Pooh once said– “I used to believe in forever, but forever is too good to be true, so remember how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go”. I will never regret being that once younger, now older, face in the mirror because it made me who I am at this very point in time. I chose who I wanted to be and look back at the former reflections and finally realize what is now present and coming in that mirror can be so much better than what is gone. The mind always replays what the heart cannot delete– but some days it feels like I’m walking on broken glass–dangerous with sharp edges, but I am not going to hurt myself putting it all back together, as it can be all swept away and forgotten.

I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it’s a very very
Mad world, mad world

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

relatedreading

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

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And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

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And Suddenly I Became Sad for NO Reason at All….

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They say depression walks hand in hand with a heart attack and since I experienced multiples the black cloud of doom hangs over me this morning. I lay on the bed understanding what it meant when someone told me they wished they had died on the operating table while the loud noise of an outdoor lawnmower blurs my thoughts with the past.

The sound triggered a memory of not being able to stomach the taste of potatoe salad when I was  6 years-old. My Mother sent me to my room with an uneaten plate of the picnic delight and all night long I lay on my bed much like this morning feeling depressed and helpless. While listening to the almost musical score of summer lawnmowers I wondered how I was going to eat that Canadian household staple, and today, I agonized how I was going to get through this. Like the potatoe salad, what caused this mess has not gone away, and I have had to deal with it, and it still remains in a constant place in my mind.

They say “Depression is 3 times more common in patients after a heart attack than in the general population, with 15% to 20% of heart attack victims qualifying for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, and a far greater proportion experiencing increased levels of depressive symptoms”. That’s an official quote, I didn’t make that up, and I know people don’t understand that just like my Mother not comprehending why I couldn’t put another mouthful of that salad in my mouth.

Laying on that bed on a summer night in the 50s unleashed intense waves of emotion like today. If you’re battling depression and heart disease at the same time, you and your heart will need all of the strength you can get. I never did eat that plate of potatoe salad, and for the next few years she was alive Bernice Ethylene Crittenden Knight constantly reminded me of the incident, just like I am reminded daily what happened to me a week ago.

Like the drone of lawnmowers life goes on and you are as good as whatever you did last. I say “sorry” even more these past few days because I feel everything is my fault.  Some ask if I am okay and I feel what they really mean is: “are you over it yet?” so you can resume normal daily occurrences. My lips say “fine” as I don’t want to deal with further conversation, but my soul is still weeping. I guess I want someone to look me in the eye and say “no, you are not okay” as I am exhausted from trying to feel stronger than I feel.

I try to evaluate that depression is not a sign of weakness–it just means you have been strong far too long. Faking a smile even to your Mother is so much easier than explaining why you are sad, what caused all this, and how broken I feel right now. I hate this feeling that I can’t control what happens to me and it’s like I’m here, but I’m not, and that I belong somewhere else–anywhere, but here.

I should have tried harder I tell myself in both situations and it’s okay to cry as today even the sky is crying. Maybe I am too complicated and expect too much from myself–yet today I feel like such a disappointment like I was to my Mother that evening.

Stars can’t shine without darkness and I’ve had to fight like hell in my life, and fighting like hell has made me what I am. But–it never prepared me for this, and today I feel I have more scars than friends. Sometimes even to live is an act of courage but we have to remember we are worth more than our darkness. As Confucius says:” Our greatest glory is not in ever failing but in rising every time we fail.”

Instead of wiping away the tears, I need to wipe away the people that made me cry and just stop being heart broken. Recovery is a process and it takes time, patience, and everything you’ve got. I will try again tomorrow after my dark cloud passes and learn to dance again in the rain. Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never ever danced in the rain and after all..

 “Everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes”

 

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If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from depression, seek help right away from a family doctor or a mental health specialist. You may also want to join a support group for heart attack survivors, such as Mended Hearts, which is sponsored by the American Heart Association.

  • frequent feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • strange eating or sleeping patterns
  • excessive crying
  • thoughts of suicide and death
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
  • irritability
  • unexplained aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment

 

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

 

relatedreading

What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

 

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What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

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What Becomes of a Broken Heart?

 

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When I had a stroke I often wondered if others would understand more clearly what the aftermath of a silent killer was like if stroke or heart attack survivors had a visible affliction like a broken leg.  I have been the recipient of both a stroke and a heart attack, and through nothing but sheer luck, their powerful silence did not kill me.

Strokes and heart attacks don’t run in my family–cancer does–and for the last 20 years I have been the last family member standing. It wasn’t the load that broke down this time–it was how I carried it. Inner stress runs through my veins every single day, and I was born a worrier, come from a lineage of worriers, and will sadly leave a legacy of more worriers. I was raised to believe that it’s our family’s duty to worry about everyone else and I proudly carry on the tradition. Each day I try to make a difference, but am in no way an overachiever or I would have been one of the folks putting in my artery stents Wednesday night.

I think most of us know what heart attack symptoms are backwards and forwards, but I mistook the first signs Sunday night as indigestion. I knew what was happening wasn’t normal, and  I had a good idea of what was going on- but I was too busy drowning in the river of denial to see what was hitting me in the face–or to my heart. That’s right, I sat there trying to concentrate on the The Hand Maiden’s Tale ignoring the first heart attack. Yes, the first heart attack.

Wednesday night the pain in my chest, the nausea, and the shortness of breath returned again with a vengeance, and this time it did not go away. Again I balked going to the hospital for the sole reason that my British family raised me to ” have a stiff upper lip, chin up and never be a bother”. Seeing I don’t recall any of them ever experiencing heart attacks I sensed that none of then had ever felt jolts of electricity hitting them on the 4 block ride to the Carleton Place Hospital when they were trying to instill those family values in me.

About 7 minutes later I heard the words “cardio” and “call the ambulance” as my local hospital did everything they could to get me out of pain and rushed off to the Ottawa Heart Institute. This isn’t the first time that the Carleton Place Hospital has gone above and beyond for my family and I wish I could do more than just say “thank you”.

It wasn’t an easy ride for me in that ambulance as memories began flooding through my mind. Three years ago I had made the same journey, only to the Ottawa General Hospital with my late husband and they had asked him the same departure question as they asked me Wednesday night. In the space of 15 seconds you have to answer if you want to be resuscitated if something terminal happens, and let’s face it, even Google can’t answer that question. Steve knew exactly what answer he was going to hear– but it still hit him like a ton of bricks. Do not resuscitate!

In what seemed no time I was ushered into a cold looking room at the Ottawa Heart Institute that reminded me of an examining room from an alien B movie. Suddenly the whole space became a movie theatre with black and white shadowy images of my veins as the feature of the hour. I lay there and shook my head. I knew how I got there, but how do you shake the emotional sticky monkeys off your back. In what seemed no time, but I knew it wasn’t– I felt a rush of warmth fill my body from head to toe and knew that my veins were now flowing again. Trying to make light of a bad situation I silently wondered if this is how Vampires feel after a “satisfying bite”.

I’m honest, my health stats are not the best, but I was told if I don’t get rid of the stress it is going to end up killing me. I know a lot of of the load I carry is not mine to carry and I need to stop worrying about what I can’t control. But, that’s easier said than done, and I have to sit down and realize I can do anything, BUT not everything.

At 5:48 the next morning my machine began to beep from a small panic attack and I’m sure imaginary quotation marks were quickly rising from my body. A nurse popped her head in, looked at me and said in a thick Jamaican accent,

“Linda, let it go!”

With that she sat down beside me and reasoned that my greatest weapon is to be able to choose my own thoughts, and it’s all about finding the calm in the chaos.

Now I know I’ve got to find 
Some kind of peace of mind

I’ll be searching everywhere

Thank you to the Carleton Place Hospital and the Ottawa Heart Institute for their amazing care and letting me be here a little while longer. Please donate!

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Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:
  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness.

 

 

relatedreading

I Had a Stroke – I Didn’t Break My Leg!

 

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