We flew home recently and, on the flight, my husband Chuck said he hurt his wrist while doing all the heavy lifting of luggage. Since we woke up at 4:30 am to catch the flight, we were both tired and after lunch, Chuck laid down for a nap. When he woke up, his left arm was throbbing and radiating pain in his forearm without moving it. At 7:00 pm he came into my office and said he was worried he might be having have a heart attack and thought he should go to the hospital. After all, one of the signs is radiating pain in your left arm.
Heading for the Hospital
Off we went. I drove – the trip was about 15 minutes. When I got in the car, I felt disoriented and could feel my heart beating so fast. My mind was filled with questions and concerns: “Is he okay? What if he has a heart attack in the car? We should have called an ambulance!” I didn’t want to say anything that would stress him out further. We both were practicing deep, slow mindful breathing which helped calm us down using tools we’ve learned from Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book You Are the Placebo.
We got to the ER and I dropped him off to park the car. When I got in a few minutes later, the nurse was already getting ready to hook Chuck up for an EKG. What a relief, the treatment came before the paperwork.
Long story short, the tests did NOT indicate a heart attack and we were home about 2 ½ hours after we left. All is well with Chuck and even though the pain was probably a muscle injury, we are using this incident as a continuing wakeup call to elevate our health practices.
Lessons I am taking from this challenging situation
- We all want to be respected and when your partner asks for support, he wants to be respected. I never disagree with him when it comes to decisions like this. If he wants to go to the hospital, I’m ready. (Hmm, I should probably be more conscious of this lesson regarding other issues.)
- Treat others the way you want to be treated. Being kind and loving is always important and most of us can do better.
- If your partner wants to go to the ER, and it could be life-threatening, call an ambulance as soon as possible. Calling 9-1-1 is even more important if you cannot get them right out the door and into a car or it’s during rush hour, etc. Delays could be critical.
- The reason I said to leave ASAP was that I had a business call scheduled just when he came into my office to say he wanted to go. I just took 1 minute to tell the person I couldn’t do the call and why. He was very understanding. When I was driving to the ER I was concerned the few minutes I took could have been the difference between life and death. It wasn’t but it had me realize that If anything like this happens again, I won’t spend the 1 minute. Chuck’s life is more important and the caller will understand.
- A friend of mine’s husband had a heart attack on Monday. It took her an hour to get him down the steps and in the car. He didn’t want her to call for an ambulance. He’s now in rehab and making slow steady progress. My friend said that it will be a “new normal” for them at least for awhile.
- Don’t express your fears at the moment. Your partner is in fear and doesn’t need to hear your version. Be reassuring and loving. Don’t let the stress leak out in emotional reactions that add more stress.
- The course I offer — “Your Journey to Lasting Love” — focuses on practicing the beliefs, emotions, and behaviors you want to be a happy, healthy, confident partner. You do short exercises to practice mindful breathing, sensing what’s happening in your body, being aware of your emotions so when they start to arise you can recognize them and stop reacting, not complaining, learning how to ask for what you want in a way your partner will be more likely to support you, and other exercises which are beneficial to being in the present moment and calming your mind and body. I was so grateful I’ve been practicing these consciously so I could maintain a calm presence with Chuck.
- Feel gratitude even in the challenging moments. Gratitude? Yes …. Gratitude for a good parking spot, that he was seen right away, that the testing was done quickly and showed no sign of a heart attack and for the two nurses and the doctor for their great service and fast response. By the way, I have learned that gratitude that is not strongly felt has little impact on you. You need to feel the gratitude wash over you – and then your brain rewires itself for more gratitude.
What you practice grows stronger!
Practicing relationship skills will build new brain patterns that over time will be activated more than the old skills. Then – when your partner is upset with you for not listening, your child throws a tantrum at the store, when your phone battery dies during a business call, or when you have an emergency – you can be calm, act with love and think clearly.
Many people have a tragedy that becomes the impetus to change their life. Do you really need a tragedy or an almost tragedy to kick your commitment to more love, connection and intimacy (or health and whatever else is important to you) into high gear?
Create your own crisis by design, don’t wait for life to give it to you!
I invite you to create a crisis for more connection, intimacy, joy, and self-expression. If there is a relationship you want to focus on, that’s great or it can be about practicing skills with everyone. If you practice patience (or kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, etc.) with your partner, boss, kids, or your parents, it helps with other relationships. By the way, I don’t mean “drama” when I say “create a crisis.” Drama is over-reacting. I’m talking about intentionally elevating the importance of your relationship before a tragedy strikes.
If you knew you had a short time left with your partner or family, what would you do? Do it now! I’d love to hear what crisis you are creating (rather than waiting for a tragedy to befall you) in the comments below.