Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

(Jumping in and pretending it hasn't been 3 months since I last wrote...)

Two recent additions to my diet

I've had a lot of anxiety over the past few months.  I've been experiencing several "symptoms" that  have had me wondering if I'm experiencing heart problems or if I'm just a nervous wreck.  I know a lot of what I'm feeling is post traumatic stress over losing friends and nearly losing friends to heart disease and cancer this year.  The older I get, the more I see people in my age group getting sick and dieing.  It's scary.

Watching other people experience serious health issues has heightened my awareness of my own issues. More specifically, I'm experience several digestive problems: frequent heart burn, reflux, indigestion, bloating, shortness of breath (which I attribute to bloating and anxiety) and pain in my chest, neck, and back.  I find myself wondering constantly if these could be symptoms of heart problems instead of simple digestive issues due to being over-weight and under-active.

I'm overdue for a physical.  I know I should see a doctor to rule out more serious things.  There are many reasons I haven't made an appointment, probably the biggest one being that I have developed a slight distrust of medical doctors.  Fear, being a close second reason for procrastination.  I will go.  Eventually.  It doesn't matter who or how many people tell me to do it.  I'll do it when I'm ready.  I am currently looking for a doctor who has a philosophy of health maintenance more similar to mine and one who won't just had me an anti-depressant, some xanax and sleep medication.  I've been down that road.  It's a band-aid that covers up underlying problems and creates new problems.  I want real health, not an illusion.

Anyway, one day while I was having an episode of indigestion and pain, I remembered that my dad has a hiatal hernia, and my grandma had one, and the way they described feeling was exactly the way I was feeling.  A quick search on the internet led me to stories of others feeling exactly what I was feeling including the worry about heart disease.  So I've been paying closer attention to what I eat.  I found some exercises that are designed to ease the top of the stomach back through the diaphragm in case I am correct about the hiatal hernia, and I've added some foods to my diet that aid digestion.  It's helped.  The daily bloating and indigestion has become less frequent, and when I do experience it I've found that a pinch of fennel seeds really does help ease the problem. (I was skeptical.)

I'm still feeling depressed and very anxious at times.  I think hormones are a big part of the picture, but I'll write about that another day.  I've been doing a lot of reading and researching.  I'm trying to put into practice those things that I think will help (an exercise in trusting my inner wisdom) but it's a process that takes time.

I also think there is a spiritual/psychological component to the digestion problems I'm having.  Repressed anger, "biting my tongue," and things, "I can't stomach," but again, that's a post for another day.