Lately, I’ve been struggling with pericarditis. The American Heart Association says that “Pericarditis is inflammation of the pericardium, two thin layers of a sac-like tissue that surrounds the heart, holds it in place and helps it work. A small amount of fluid keeps the layers separate so that there’s no friction between them. A common symptom of pericarditis is chest pain, caused by the sac’s layers becoming inflamed and possibly rubbing against the heart. “
The pain started in mid-October, after a summer of exercise and feeling wonderful. The beginning of the school year was also great. However, it was October 12, that I started feeling crummy. My youngest daughter, Sadie, missed an entire week of school with pneumonia and apparently, she shared it with me. The cause of pericarditis is often unknown, though viral infections are a common cause. It often occurs after a respiratory infection.
After two visits to the ER and several tests, my cardiologist told me that since I’ve visited with her and the ER doctors about this same thing several times since my open-heart surgery, it looks like I’ll need a medication to help prevent getting it. In addition to the treatment, I need rest and self-care. My focus lately has been stress management and I’m going to now practice deep breathing more often to increase oxygen to my lungs as wells and help relax/manage stress.
It’s funny. I’ve had a great start to the school year. My students are wonderful, very supportive, and talented. In fact, the musical has been the least stressful that I’ve ever directed. It was as if I had never been sick. I even lost 13 pounds and walked the Austin Heart Walk 5k. My new podcast gained over 1100 listeners. Now it seems as though, I hit a will and bam…someone shares a virus with me and my body shuts down. Ha! I’m listening. I get it.
This is a big reminder that being healthy is a choice. Wellness is something I have to seek after daily. I can’t assume that because things are going well that I can back off healthy eating and getting exercise. Lesson Learned.
My Journey from death's door to the miracle of life.
Annie Dragoo is a wife, mother, actor, singer, dancer, educator, and holistic health practitioner who lives in Austin, Texas.