What the experts diagnosed me with and what it says about my health
I’m over here. Looking over the Hudson, marveling at the late April snow.
It’s been a while since I’ve written, the break in my blog flow was as unexpected as today’s snow, though I’d call what triggered it more of a massive earthquake than a little flurry.
It’s a good story, I’ll give you an outline for now since I have a feeling I’ll be sharing a lot more in months and even years to come…
On February 28th I said a heartfelt goodbye to the studio on Dean St. in Brooklyn that served as my home base for many years with one last Breathe Deep workshop, the biggest the studio has ever hosted, and a late night dance reverie whose energy is still reverberating in the Brooklyn ether. Here’s a pic of us at 2AM, dancing to the amazing grooves of Salieu Suso on Kora and Kevin Nathaniel on Mbira (photo by Fred Hatt):
I packed the moving truck the next day, unpacked it the day after, and flew to Israel to visit family the day after that. That’s me, a gal on the move.
And the movement didn’t stop once I got to Israel, with a year’s worth of skipping and twirling to catch up on with my nieces and nephew, dance events and family visits galore.
But I did take a pause out of my busy schedule to go see a cardiologist.
I’ve had an irregular heart beat for a long time, and there’s no denying that the past two years were ones in which I pushed myself to my limits. My partner Marcel had been nudging me to get my heart checked out for a while now (what with a sibling with a history of heart issues), and I finally agreed. In Israel I had my mom’s help in getting a private appointment with a top-notch cardiologist, and that’s how I found myself hooked up to an EKG.
So. For reasons beyond my technical understanding, the renowned doctor diagnosed me with a very serious congenital heart condition that puts me in constant risk of sudden death and requires an immediate implant of a pacemaker.
Said doctor suggested that I have the surgery immediately, before leaving the country the following week. When I politely declined and said I’d like to look into the matter further, he assured me that I was not only misguided, but a threat to everyone around me, as I might faint and push an innocent bystander into traffic at any moment. I tried to explain that I’m a professional faller, I’ve mastered forms of dance that are based on managing disorientation, and that since I haven’t fainted on my feet since I was a wee baby I was quite sure I’d be alright. But there was no one listening.
I went for a second opinion a few days later, another renowned cardiologist, the head of the department at the other big hospital. He asked me who gave me my first opinion, looked at the EKG, and quickly confirmed: I was seriously ill and in grave danger, my only hope was a pacemaker, ASAP.
Needless to say my life was thrown into a tailspin.
Luckily for me, I really am a professional faller, with a penchant for balance even in the most disorienting circumstances. And dance has always been my magic spell for sprouting wings when I need them, so I kept dancing.
Contemplating death brought me some serious epiphanies, I’ll share the most poignant one with you next week. For now, I’ll stick to the guts of the story.
It took a month to get an appointment with the cardiologist of my choice (more soon on the importance of proactive choice in navigating our health care system@!) That appointment was last week. My stress test was this week. And my follow up conversation with the doctor was just now, as I was writing you this note.
In between, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my hands in the dirt, walking along the river, and resting up. It’s amazing what a little rest and nature will do for the heart, mine kept whispering to me, you’re just fine, even better than fine.
Turns out it was right. Or more importantly, it turns out the experts in Israel were wrong, very, very wrong. I just received confirmation that I don’t have a congenital heart disorder, I have athlete’s arrhythmia, aka a benign irregularity (yup, that’s me, benignly irregular :).
Apparently the doctors who looked over the results of my stress test were downright impressed, I’m in excellent condition and along with my echocardiogram, my heart is officially healthy.
Hurray! And here’s why I could have told them that:
And then there’s my ability to constantly generate energy to invest in the people and projects I’m passionate about, to lead the life I choose even in the face of significant challenges and resistance.
And most of all, I’m not just moving around a lot, I’m moving into greater awareness and alignment and always towards change and personal growth.
If that’s not a healthy human, what is?
What exactly is it that our culture deems healthy?
And are you accepting the criteria and the diagnoses without question?
More importantly, are you willing to measure them up to your personal experience and question both your own conclusions and those of the experts for the sake of coming closer to the healthiest, best life you can have?
Those are a few of the questions on my mind, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, .
And of course there’s more to this story, but I’m going to stop here for now.
I’ll be starting to see clients again soon, and if you sense that it’s time to regain agency and create more health and strength for yourself, fill out the form to your left and I’ll be in touch shortly.
For now, I simply want to wish you a very bright and bountiful Spring. Don’t forget to sow the seeds of your hopes and dreams. And know that I’m more grateful than ever to share this precious moment in time with you.