Gratitude,  Musings,  This Life...

Sunday Snippet: The Oh, My Heart Edition

I have always determined to be very honest here, but at the same time, try not to give y’all TMI. This may fall under that heading, but I gave you part of this story earlier, and I feel I owe you the rest, such as it is. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that if the cardiologist told me my heart issues are because I’m fat and post-menopausal, I was going to kick him? His shins were saved because that’s not even close to what his diagnosis was. I sorta wish now that it had been–it would be beat the actual facts all to hell and back.

Turns out, I’m in heart failure. Yup. How much does that suck? A lot, in my opinion. We got this news on Thursday after the electro-cardiologist talked us through the results of the 7-day monitor and the echocardiogram I had. Apparently, the quick-and-dirty explanation is that my left ventricle is not doing its job well–my ejection fraction, which should be somewhere between 50 and 70 is only 37, and there are several other readings that indicate I am in mild-to-moderate heart failure. It’s genetic–thanks a bunch, Mom. And trust me, the irony and rather sick humor of a romance writer with a failing heart is not lost on me.

At this point, I’m still processing–it feels very surreal because outside of feeling breathless when I take my daily walks and tired–more tired than I should–I’m still me. Still writing and editing and enjoying my kids and cooking and spending time with Husband and dusting my tables and changing my sheets and meeting my friends… so it’s hard to feel like anything is different, except that something is. I won’t be coy and claim I had no idea. I’ve known something wasn’t right for at least a year, now it has a name.

The news, demoralizing as it is, has some hopeful moments. People can live a long time in heart failure. There have been lots of new medications discovered for heart failure patients in the last fifteen years. I’ve already started on two of them as of Thursday. I’m doing a stress test and nuclear testing in a couple of weeks and then I see a new cardiologist–one whose specialty is heart failure–on January 6. There are things that can be done to help me, and I’m trusting that whatever those things are, they will work for me. I’m trying to stay away from Dr. Google (that’s hard), and I will do whatever the new doc tells me to do because if I’m throwing my lot in with them, I should do what they ask.

So, my plan is this: mind the doc, change my diet if that’s necessary, do what exercise is recommended, take my meds as instructed, and past that, live my life. Take the trips in the coming year that I I’ve been looking forward to, stay in the here-and-now and enjoy every moment. I know I will have times when I get scared of what may lie ahead, but I won’t dwell on what my future might hold. I will, however, gratefully accept all prayers and light anyone wants to send my way.

Gratitude for this week: Medical science and all the new things that are revealed and discovered each day; Husband, without whom life would be much harder; all the Christmas lights that are staring to show up in the ‘hood; being able to escape into writing–it keeps me grounded; had a great time at the book signing at Whyte Horse Winery–sold some books, met some nice folks, and had some good wine.


Stay well, stay safe (masks, folks, it’s getting bad out there), be kind, and most of all, mes amies, stay grateful,


  • Patt Oliver

    Hi Nan. Welcome to the club. Been dealing with heart problems for 22 years and so far the Doctors are keeping me going. As long as they do their job I will keep up my end. I hope you have good luck with your problem. Love a d miss you. ❤️❤️

  • Carol Light

    So sorry that your diagnosis wasn’t something a little easier, like cut the stress (not so easy!) or cut back on fried foods. You have a great attitude, which is half the battle at least! It sounds like you’re in good medical hands. Take care and keep the faith!

    • Nan

      Carol, thank you! I promise I’ll mind the docs and do everything I’m supposed to do so that you won’t have to wheel me around Mission Viejo in July! Yeah, cutting back on fried foods would have been so much easier, you know? But this is what it is and I shall persevere. Hugs! Can’t wait to see you in July or earlier if you get back here sooner!

  • Barbara A.

    Oh Nan. This is certainly not the diagnosis we wanted. But you’re so right that new meds are doing amazing things and my dear friend has lived fully with this for years now. But your attitude is great and that’s so important. Please know we (all of us) at Tule love you and are here for you. And your wonderful family will hold you up. Hugs Barbara

    • Nan

      How kind you are, Barbara, thank you for sharing with me about your friend–you give me hope. I’m clinging tight to all the love and I’m so crazy about Tule and all the authors and team who have sent me support and love. Husband is a rock, as is Son and I’m so grateful for all the wonderful people in my life. Hugs, sweetie.

  • Sinclair

    Hey Nan,

    I know that I commented earlier to your Tule email, but do know that I am thinking about you all so often and wishing you the best. You are strong and smart and have a huge support system with your family and friends and fellow authors and Tule. Happy holidays and definitely life your life. Following medical advice is awesome, but also keep in mind that your health is giving you a warning, and yet we are all mortal, and we get the time we get so use it as you wish. Someone–John Lennon, but as I have put some quotes in my last Masala MS that I googled and the CE said they were attributed to someone else (yes, embarrassing, Helena must think I’m dumber than a fence post and illiterate), someone else likely said it before, “life happens when you are planning for the future” and I’d add, worrying about something else. You got this girl. And we got you.

    • Nan

      Oh, Sinclair, how you and your words give me strength. I’ve started a new meditation practice early in the morning just after waking up–10 minutes to focus and breath and go inward and find the peace I know is still in me. I know I say this to a lot, but here it is again, in this situation–I can’t imagine the journey without you and my Tule gang. I’ll need all the love and light and support I can, so I’m holding myself open to whatever comes my way in that regard. How can I ever tell you how much it means to me to have you in my corner? More than I can say. I’m so excited about coming out to the vineyard this summer and then to So-Cal in July to meet all my Tule lovelies. I am so blessed.

  • Kimberly

    I will continue to send you light, love and healing vibes. It runs in my family too, so I am diligent with my every 6 month follow up with my cardiologist.

  • Roseann McGrath Brooks

    Sending prayers, good thoughts, and thankfulness that you have good doctors. I’ve always felt blessed to live in this time of advanced medicine. It sounds as if you have the right attitude and the right intentions.

  • Valri Western

    I’m so very sorry, Nan! Even my health issues (that bring me down many times!), aren’t as bad as yours, or as life-changing! I will be thinking of you and definitely praying for you! Hang in there, girl!

    • Greg Maci

      So sad to hear of the distressing news. Will be praying for your ability to grapple with this disease. When I had my bypass, I initially thought of my life as a wind-up clock…. ready to stop at a moment’s notice. Yet, 20 years later, I’m still ticking.

      • Nan

        You give me such hope, Greg! Thank you for that. I didn’t know you had bypass, but I’m very glad you are all good now. I love your wind-up clock analogy–yes, that is the feeling. I plan to keep ticking, too. Hugs to you!

  • Sandy Pride

    Oh, Nan, I am so sad for you and yours. I love your attitude about this and wish I lived closer so we could go on walks together. God bless you today and always.

    • Nan

      Oh, Sandy! Wouldn’t that be fun? I’ll see your smiling face on Friday morning zoom, though. Thank you for your good thoughts! <>

  • Kim Prieboy

    What an awesome attitude Nan! My prayers are with you. ❤️❤️❤️

    Looking forward to more wine and talks with you and Mo!

    • Nan

      Thank you! Prayers are so appreciated. And yes, wine and girl talk with Moe sounds just about perfect to me. Maybe you can wander down to Kean’s Bay next summer and swim with us–sometimes Jim acts as pool boy and brings us beers. 😉