by Teresa TJ Phillips
In May 2012 , I went in for an EKG and stress test. I had minor surgery coming up and the doctors decided they wanted to check out the palpitations I'd mentioned in an earlier visit. This is something that's been going on for years, so I wasn't too worried about it. Go in for the test and get the OK for the surgery. Done. No big deal.
The day before was mom's 75th birthday, and my sister and I had cooked all afternoon for the family party. We had a great time and it was a wonderful celebration. By the end of the day, I was very tired and before bed, noticed a slight chest pain from time to time. No biggie, I'd felt them before, after a long day.
I got to mom's to meet my sister and niece, who were going with me. Mom met me at the door saying she was going with us. OK. A bit unusual but fine. By the time we arrived at the hospital, some tension had set in. I was really curious about how the tests were done and what they might be able to tell me right away, but relaxation wasn't where I wanted it to be.
So there I sat, in the waiting room by myself (they had gone shopping), thinking about all the people there for various heart related matters. They looked healthy and I thought how we really can't tell who the patient is sometimes. I sent blessings to everyone and wished them all well, took a deep breath and felt more relaxed.
The EKG technician was very sweet. She saw nothing out of the ordinary, she said. Wonderful! One step closer to being done. When she asked if there was any pressure or pain and I told her a bit on my left side, more of a pressure. Lying on my left side, that was to be expected, I supposed.
The next test wasn't for an hour, so I played an electronic game while waiting for my family to come back. We were going to have a late lunch between appointments. It wasn't long before the next technician came and got me. I was pleasantly surprised. The trio wasn't back yet, but I figured I'd be done in no time and we'd be off to lunch. I was taken to the room by a very nice lady, who explained what was going to happen. Having never done a stress test before and never been on a treadmill before, I listened closely.
While she was attaching the lead wires, I offhandedly ask her, "Has anyone had a heart attack during the test?" She looked at me, took a deep breath and said yes. She was very honest with me. She told me she only had a few in the many years she'd been doing the tests. Then, she went on to explain exactly what would happen. She said I was in the right place, if it did. That's true, so again I focused on doing a good job on the test, eager to see how my knees and hip held up. Osteoarthritis in them could cause problems but I really didn't want to be injected with adrenaline, which would be the alternative if I couldn't finish the test.
So, let’s do this. Onto the machine and start walking. The monitor quickly showed the heart rate they needed for a good reading and all was going well. Knees and hip were holding out and things felt pretty good. The cardiologist overseeing the test announced I was good to go for the surgery. He would tell the heart specialist, who just happened to be in the building. Cool! I was so glad that was over.
After you do the treadmill, they have you sit still for a while to see how your heart does with an abrupt stop of activity. We talked while waiting for my blood pressure and heart rate to come back down to normal. They weren’t coming down. Then both the cardiologist and technician went to the machine. I felt something and saw it flash on the screen but figured it happens when you take a deep breath. Apparently not.
The pressure in my chest had turned to pain during the test, but not too bad. Then after, it just wasn't going away. Then another blip on the screen, and another. The cardiologist went to talk to the specialist again and came back to give me a nitroglycerin tablet. It made me light-headed but the pain subsided somewhat. I apologized for taking so much of their time, we talked for a while longer, then the cardiologist left again with more readings and this time came back with the specialist. He told me the test was abnormal and I was to be scheduled for a cardiac catheterization the next morning.
He explained that they would go through an artery to the heart and take a look around for blocked arteries, and if they found them, they’d do what's needed to fix them. He then asked if that is what I wanted to do. Well, what do you think I said? A felt a moment of panic but then calm came over me, which apparently they weren't sure how to take. Dad had this surgery a few weeks before and he was fine. The situation was a little different, but I knew everything would be OK.
I thought I was going to come back the next morning. Little did I know, I wasn't going anywhere. Now, you have to remember, I was just going up for a simple test with my mom, sister and niece. They were out shopping and didn't have phones with them.
Once the irregular heartbeat had regulated, they took me to the waiting room while the hospital room was being prepared. My blood pressure and heart rate were still high and they checked on me every few minutes. They were so sweet. I think they were trying not to scare me. I wasn't scared at all. It gave me a chance to read some of The Dance by Oriah. I could feel everything that was going on in my body and my mind, but was very relaxed.
I should interject here that I am not afraid of dying. Nearly thirty years ago, I had what I call a beyond-this-life experience (commonly called a near-death-experience) and it completely removed any fear of death. I've also had an awareness of myself as spirit beyond my body from a very young age. This awareness was going to play a big role. My physical body was experiencing a crisis and my mind had a moment of panic when they told me things weren't right, but in that moment my spirit took over and I was at peace. I could feel everything happening in my body, the tingling, pulsing of my heartbeat and pain in my chest. I heard the questions popping up in my mind. But the peace of my spirit was so powerful, I was perfectly calm. Everything was going to be alright.
My family didn't come before the room was ready, so I was wheeled off and admitted. Everyone kept asking if I was doing OK. I kept telling them I was fine. The nurse got the monitor hooked up, started the IV and took blood, explaining everything the whole time.
Then the parade of doctors began. I'm not sure how many there were, each one asking my story and apologizing for having to ask for it again. It’s a university hospital, so you get more than the normal number of doctors. The nurse came in about every 10 minutes, asking how things were and checking one thing or another, giving me meds and explaining what they were trying to do.
One of the doctors announced the surgery was being moved up to late in the evening and I'd probably go home in the morning. By this time, family found me and mom heard this news. I could tell the surprise of coming in to find I'd been admitted was taking its toll already and this news added to it. Fortunately, she had to take my niece home. She didn't need to go through this and being busy was the best thing. I could feel her love and sadness and kept telling her I was OK, but knew she was having a hard time trying to be strong. After assuring her I was fine and would be coming home later, she gave me a hug and left.
I had no doubt that I was coming home that night. None at all. In that moment, I became acutely aware that I was creating this reality. I was here because I had wondered if anyone had a heart attack during the test, and now I was experiencing what that was like. The awareness of it was so clear. It was like writing, watching and being in a play, all at the same time.
It was one of the few times I was totally and truly aware of mind (the writer), body (the actor) and spirit (the watcher) separately, and as the whole of who I am. It is easy to be fully aware of one or another during meditation, creativity or celebration, but I could feel the presence of each and all simultaneously. If I'd let the panic in the fearful mind take over, I couldn’t have maintained the peace I felt and I'm not sure what would have happened to the body.
I knew I was experiencing, in mind and body, what I expected in that moment. Spirit was just an observer without judgment or expectation. Then came the realization that I had the ability to decide what was next. Not some theoretical idea but a knowing that I had created this moment and I had the capability to determine what the next ones were going to be. And there was something else, an awareness that everything was in place to make it happen.
Looking around, I could barely hear what people were saying. Everything in the room seemed to have a radiant glow and it was as if time slowed down. All the doctors and nurses wanted me to have a good outcome. My family did, too. I realized I had created a kind of bubble of energy around me, and now, the bubble disappeared and the love, caring and kindness of everyone around me came flowing in like a swirling wave. Everyone that is, except my hospital roommate, making me even happier I’d be going home that evening.
I knew they weren't going to let me go until they took a look around my heart. They seemed very sure there was a blockage somewhere, but I was ready for this experience to be over. I decided I was going to create a smooth surgery with no blockages and going home after. Tonight. What a relief, making the decision, and knowing this was going to be over soon.
The surgeon came and we talked for a while. He was very nice, as all of them had been. He left and a few minutes later, the nurse came in and said we were going down to surgery in 5 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised, that was fast. I was wheeled down to the “cath lab” which was empty and very quiet. I asked the nurse if this surgery was done at this time of day very often, and she said no.
Just then the surgical team arrived and went into action. It was really amazing to watch them. The room was like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie and they didn't waste any time. While they were hooking me up to all the equipment and getting me ready, I was praying, thanking God for my life and thanking Him for all the wonderful people helping me. I ask Him and the angels, and anyone else who was hanging around, to guide their hands and hearts. I was in complete peace and gratitude, and felt the embrace of spirit.
I was awake the whole time but couldn't see anything due to the large, white box hovering over my chest. It had something to do with the images. Don't know what, but it was in my way. Darn it.
It seemed like only 10 minutes (funny how that time thing comes into play), but it was an hour later when they moved the box out of the way and told me it was all over. The surgeon said he saw no blockages, which was great, since they were so sure they were going to find at least one. Again, the whole thing was so surreal. Like writing the next lines of my life, and watching it become reality, as I was writing it.
I was taken back to the room and felt very groggy due to the sedative. Typically during surgery, my blood pressure drops unusually low and stays down afterward for several hours. This time was no different, but being high to begin with, it didn’t go as low and didn't take as long to come back up to normal. I was able to go home once everything stabilized, well before they originally planned. I was told they don't know exactly what caused it or stopped it, but that I’ll be on beta blockers and a heart monitor for a month and they would figure it out.
I was so happy to get home. It truly was like waking from a dream in the morning. If it weren't for the bruises on my arms and hole in my wrist, I might not believe it happened.
You are an extraordinarily powerful creator. Your thoughts truly do become your life. Be mindful of what I call passive manifestation. “Has anyone had a heart attack during the test?” “We may run out of gas before the next town.” “I don’t know…” “What if…?” It seems innocent enough, but you will get what you ask for. God, the universe, life force, the big Kahuna, whatever you call it, will give it to you. Positive or negative, good or bad, help or hindrance. If its what you’re asking for, passively or purposefully, you’ll get it.
Be prepared, because unless you “change your mind”, you will be experiencing what you are thinking very soon. And remember, too, that you have the ability to change what is happening. Just because you “accidentally” brought something on yourself that you honestly don’t want to experience, keep in mind, you can change the situation.
Also, I was in the company of people who wanted me to have a good outcome. This made a huge difference in the experience. We are collaborating in our experience of this life and if things had been very different, my experience would have been also. Surround yourself with supportive, loving people. Allow their kindness and caring to enhance your experience of life and be mindful of what you are putting out there for them.
Be decisive in your life creation. Be clear in what you want and then let it happen. Expect it to happen. Be excited about it happening. In that moment, when I allowed my spirit to take over, faced my fearful mind and allowed my body to feel everything that was happening to it, I took responsibility for creating the experience. It gave me such freedom and allowed me to understand the powerful gift I had to change the situation.
Being fully present, mindful of every thought and so grateful for all the supportive love around me, I consciously made the decision of what was to come next and fully expected it to happen, without a doubt. None! It was as if God were standing in front of me asking "What's next, Teresa?" The realization of such a gift, that it truly was up to me, filled me with a peace and gratitude I can only compare to the infinite and all-consuming, unconditional love I felt during my beyond-this-life experience.
I thank God every day for this amazing blessing and all the insights it has brought me. I am very grateful to everyone for their love, caring, kindness and support during this lifetime. I hope by sharing this story, someone might take away an insight or two. Thank you for reading about seven amazing hours in my life of many such blessings. I truly appreciate your patience.
So now, I have just one question for you….What’s next?
Many blessings to you!
Teresa “TJ” Phillips
June 6, 2012