Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Do You Need Open Heart Surgery?

There’s a lot of craziness in the world; just watch the news, read the paper, or listen to your neighbors describe their experience of the world.  It can be confusing, disheartening, and depressing.  You could simply stop talking to friends and family or cut out the media from your life, but that’s not a cure, just taking care of the symptoms, not the root of the problem.  The problem isn’t the world events; it’s our interpretation and assimilation of these facts and stories into our souls.  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness it’s easy to cut yourself off from the world because there has been a psychic injury, but following that course of action could lead to serious consequences.

When I ask, “Do you need open heart surgery?” I’m not thinking about cracking your chest open to physically do surgery.  I’m thinking about ways for your to open your heart to the life you have been given.  The idea of opening your heart is not to lie down and take it; but a way to expand what’s now possible in your life given your new circumstances.  It’s about having the courage to embrace a scary world while trying to find an explanation that may not even exist.  It’s about opening your heart to the new visions you may acquire since your diagnosis and as Tim McGraw sings allow you to “Live like you were dying”. 

Following open heart surgery most cardiac patients go to cardiac rehab.  If you were going to open your heart, what would your rehab look like?  What would it take to allow you to expand your world so that you can maximize your quality of life.  I know it takes making some concessions, but I’m also wondering if you limit yourself in one area, where can you expand your world in other areas.  It makes me think about when I first started quilting.  The quilting instructor told us that she only bought 1/2 a yard of any given fabric no matter what was required in the pattern.  She believed if she limited herself in one area it would encourage or force (depending on your world view) to come up with creative solutions.  It forced her to create new pathways to get to her goal.

What new pathways are you going to create following your “open heart” surgery?  How can you open your heart to care, attention, and love you may not have experienced in the past; not because it wasn’t there, but because you were too busy doing other things.  What will your heart-felt rehab experience entail?  I’d love to know how opening your heart helps on your journey to health and healing.  Send me an email at


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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