Samuel A. Kojoglanian, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Judith came to see me for palpitations. She hadn’t experienced her fast heartbeats for many years, but the recent stress and demands in her life were pushing her to care for herself less and less.
While on the treadmill, she had the same symptoms. She had a short run of SVT, which stands for Supra Ventricular Tachycardia, which is a fast heart rate that comes from the top chamber of the heart and is usually benign, though it can cause patients to feel like their heart is beating out of their chest.
I marveled at her attitude, calm demeanor, and positive perspective. She was a mom of three, and a hard working lady. When we spoke about her family history, she broke down and cried. She did not know her father, and when she was 13 years old, she witnessed her mother hanging in the garage, having committed suicide.
When I said, “I admire your fortitude and resilience,” she said, “Oh, I’m a piece of work!” An elderly lady from church had taken her in, and cared for her in her teenage years. She had sacrificed for Judith, cared for her, loved her, and taught her to love herself, love others, and above all, love God.
The treatment for her was simple. She was drinking 5 cups of coffee a day. Coffee is a stimulant and can cause rapid hear rate. We cut down her coffee intake. She was not drinking any water. We bumped up her water intake up to 64 ounces a day. She was not getting any exercise; I challenged her to walk 10 minutes daily at a brisk pace. No medications were prescribed at this point; we wanted to see how she’d do with the “simple fix.”
Judith never started over. She started again. Starting over is starting at the same place and thinking we’ll get different results. Starting again, anew, afresh is emptying ourselves of the failures, finding out why we failed, and learning from them. It is a new perspective of teamwork and unselfishness, like the elderly lady who took Judith in. It is a new heart of forgiving our past, forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others who have deeply wounded us, like Judith’s heart that chose not to hold a grudge.
Starting over is not vicarious, but wholehearted. It is not calloused, but sympathetic to others. It is not arrogant, but humble in manner. And it is not careless; it takes care of self and others without being selfish. Here’s challenging all of us to start anew!