An extension to situational awareness is to recognize warning signs when that awareness makes you aware of potential danger. How we react to those warning signs can have profound effects on our life, whether it be with our writing, our relationships or even with our health.
About a year and a half ago I developed a dull pain in my left upper chest, right below the collarbone. I thought that at first I had possibly slept on it wrong, but after a month I realized this was something else. Still, I’d go days when I wouldn’t feel the dull pain, only to have it return a week or more later.
This went on for a couple of months before I decided to investigate the issue (first mistake: if concerned about health, get it checked immediately). My primary care physician diagnosed it as a “trigger point” and suggested I do a door frame stretching exercise. That really didn’t help much, both the diagnosis and the exercise. I needed to know what it was, or at least what it wasn’t.
Google searching brought up a couple of potentially serious causes. I could have bone cancer or a cardiac issue. A trip to the clinic ruled out bone cancer, though the X-ray showed some arthritis in my neck (I’m 51 so that’s to be expected). The EKG, on the other hand, informed the clinic physician of a serious heart issue and that I needed to go to the ER immediately.
I felt fine, had no history of hear issues, and considered myself to be in decent health, and so I explained that to her and asked her to provide more details. She showed me the EKG printout, circling one peak or valley, stating it wasn’t normal. Again, I felt fine, and asked for verification that the leads had been inserted in the correct sensors (I’ve that happened before, resulting in alarming readings). She verified and also pointed out my heart rate was too low – 42 beats per minute.
At that point I was pretty much sure her diagnosis was incorrect. I’m a runner so it’s not uncommon for my resting heart rate to be in the low 40s or even upper 30s. I protested and managed partial success. I didn’t need to go to the ER but I had to see a cardiologist the next day.
The cardiologist took one look at my EKG and asked me why I was there. I shrugged my shoulder and replied because the clinic told me to come. A few more questions followed with an apology for wasting my time and that I was perfectly healthy, more healthy than the majority of the 51 year males he’s seen.
Eventually working with a chiropractor produced the results I desired, a reduction of the annoying pain, but I would have been fine living with it if I had to. I did not ignore the warning signs and addressed them head on instead of ignoring and hoping the issue would go away.
What do we do when we see warning signs in our spiritual lives? Today I pray, but before I probably did a lot of things that were counterproductive. As a Christian author, I hope that the words I type somehow help others find their spiritual weaknesses and help to find a path out of the darkness.
Leaving Darkness is available at https://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Darkness-Greg-Schaffer/dp/1973644118/