Stress and Overwork gave me Pericarditis
Despite a healthy diet; despite being active - February 2007 changed my life forever!
I had spent months preparing for our annual mission to Ecuador. But the preparations all took a toll! Late evenings; a million tasks to complete; the worry of deadlines -- all of it added up to near disaster!
I had been having intermittent chest pain for awhile. But I ignored it. And then there we were in Ecuador at 9,200 feet. Thin air; hard to breathe; heart beating faster.
Monday - the first day of the mission is a busy one. The operating rooms are open and the first patients are flowing into the theatres. But there are lots of new volunteers who need advice, help and support to get the show on the road. After all there are about 80 patients who need surgery before we head home in two weeks!
It's hard to plan an anesthetic and deal with all the questions and problems at the same time.
And so the chest pain came on -- the worst it had ever been! Within an hour I was at a major hospital in Quito. In another half an hour I was in their coronary care unit. I was happy just to sleep. An echocardiogram and my symptoms of pleuritic pain with a findings of a "rub" confirmed my diagnosis.
That was it for my mission participation! I just slept my days away at the hotel when I was discharged the next day. It took me three months to recover my energy and several years before the chest pain stopped recurring.
What did I do to change my life? Now I PACE my activities. I DELEGATE work when I can't take more on myself. I KEEP active but do my best to KEEP the stress levels low!
So let my experience help you to avoid a similar fate! Keep the stress low. Pace yourself. As individuals we can't be all things to all people.