Lessons from my baby daughter #5.
Yesterday was my six month SCADiversary. Yep, my fellow SCAD survivors have coined a new term just to celebrate the distance travelled from their initial heart events. Distance is a good thing. It means our hearts are still beating.
Miss L has been learning to sit up over the last few weeks. She has approached this challenge in the same way she does anything new. A little hesitation, a tentative try, her Mumma’s deep frown, a grunt or two and then quiet determination. Unfortunately she didn’t take into consideration her roly poly tummy. Bending at the middle is just so hard! She has taken a lot of tumbles, the most memorable landing her face first in the sand at the beach. Oh, the sand. Sand in her eyes, sand in her mouth, sand in her hair, sand right up her nose. She would have howled but the sand was in the way. It didn’t stop her from trying, though, again and again and again.
I never knew that cardiac rehabilitation existed until after my heart event. In fact, I’d never heard of the term ‘heart event’ either. I was eager to attend in the beginning, if only to return to something that felt like a healthy life in this new body I no longer recognised. When I arrived at my first class in my new tights and joggers I was met by four friendly nurses and half a dozen (insert politically correct term for old) heart patients. Most of these patients thought I was the trainer until I sat down on the bike and was puffed out not two minutes later. I think I must have looked like I was having a heart attack all over again – red faced, gasping for air, lightheaded and covered in sweat. And I mean covered! It was dripping down my neck, pooling under my arms and boobs and the little bit of tummy pudge leftover from childbirth and settling in a nice puddle on the seat beneath my bum. I have never wanted to laugh and cry so much at the same time. I didn’t want to be special or unique or lucky or blessed or an interesting case anymore. I just wanted to be healthy again and I couldn’t even pedal an exercise bike in warm-up mode.
It would have been easier to never return to rehab. It wasn’t compulsory. It was hard to get there and I had to rely on my mother for babysitting. It was too early in the morning, especially for a mumma lacking in sleep. It was taking my precious stores of energy away from my daughter. It was embarrassing. It hurt. But I wanted my body back, and my health and my life and the feeling that the future would be ok. Most of all, I just wanted to see if I could do it.
I sat on that bike twice a week for six weeks and I pedalled my bruised and broken heart out. I pedalled until my thighs burned and my lungs ached. I pedalled until I would have howled if I’d had enough breath left. I pedalled until, one day, I could just do it.
Miss L doesn’t know what awaits her on the other side of sitting up. She doesn’t know that she is building the core muscles needed to crawl and walk. She doesn’t know that she is connecting new pathways in her brain. She doesn’t know that she is going to be able to reach new toys or see the world from a completely new perspective. She just knows that she wants to do it and so she tries again and again and again.
Six months ago, my SCAD took a lot of precious things away from my life. It took my health, my home, my strength, my independence, my pride and my plans for the future. But it has given me a new determination to live, really live. And so I will keep getting back on that rickety bike of life… again and again and again.