The battle from the effects of heart transplantation continues here in Albany NY. Of late, a combination of dreadful weather, two bouts with the flu and some surgical procedures have left me reeling.
I have pretty much been confined to quarters since December 27th. My only escapes have been to see physicians. These appointments have become exhausting and I am now seeing more doctors than at any time before or after the transplant.
Fortunately, a friend has set me up with a local psychologist that has experience dealing with chronic disease patients. Believe me, any other type psychiatrist or psychologist will not meet your needs should you want counsel during your wait or your recovery.
In Tampa, Dr. Kronsnoble a psychologist connected to the transplant program, proved a lifesaver on many occasions. It’s funny because I resisted counseling for a long time before arriving in Tampa.
When things turned bad or when the wait seemed interminable, Doctor K was always there, always on message and understanding of the psychological battles that accompany this form of chronic disease. After a year of looking in Albany, I finally found someone with the experience and who was willing to see patients with Medicare.
It turns out that many psychiatrists in this area have no desire to see Medicare patients, even though I have CDPHP insurance as a backup. I even offered to pay one doctor outside the insurance. That doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to meet the right person last week. I have to admit, I was feeling more than a little low. It was so great not to have to walk through all the sticky points and get to the meat in our first session. I admit that there had been some pretty dark thoughts mulling around in my pea brain.
This psychologist got it. We connected in a flash. What a relief! Nobody will ever top Dr. K but we have a contender. And, just in the nick of time.
The doctor got me to thinking about how I had dealt with this physical and emotional stress in the past. Those of you that know me, probably realize that sport, competition and exercise have been mainstays of my lifestyle.
When those activities are absent, my spirits sink and sink fast. I have not been permitted to exercise since December 27th. After spending the better part of four years in Florida, where it seems sunny every day, I think the sun has been out for three of four hours in Albany. And, it has been brutally cold.
We will not be stationed in Albany next winter.
But, there have been other times, especially when waiting for the transplant, that I have been immobilized and more or less confined to the immediate surroundings. After meeting with the psychologist I came to realize that I had gone away from some pretty basic practices that benefitted me in the past.
There are four big things that have changed since leaving Florida. First, the daily intake of some amount of sun is nil. Second, walking in the pool when it was not possible to walk for distance has not been an option. Thirdly, I have pretty much ceased stretching. Fourthly, my meditation has ceased completely.
As I identify those missing preventive therapies, it makes me sick to my stomach. Everything is better when you see the sun, when you walk as best you can, when you stretch and when you meditate. Yup, these four things require time and commitment, but for me the choice is clear; either wallow in self-pity or get up and do something about it.
I have decided to embrace my excessive stress or “vata derangement,” as the Ayurvedic doctors call it, with lots of stretching and even more meditation. For me, meditation and stretching give me great relief. My body may look like Hell, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it looks. My mind becomes clearer and suddenly sleep becomes possible.
But, there is one more thing. When I was meditating, I found my faith. It may sound corny or even self-serving, but it is true. In fact, not only did I find my faith, or faith found me, I embraced it. Lately, I have been negligent in this area. That stopped after seeing my new shrink. Praise be!