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July 29, 2023

Finding Strength Through Another Scary Moment—Part Two. {Poem}

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*Note: This piece is the second of a two-part series. Check out part one here.

“Thankfully, not every episode of his chest pain is a heart attack. But every time these pills come out is a chance that it is.” ~Crystal Tomlinson 

Nitroglycerin is prescribed for angina, a condition that can mimic a heart attack.

This medication is made with traces of the highly explosive chemical of the same name, which also happens to be a lifesaving drug; a vasodilator which opens narrowed blood vessels for people with coronary artery disease.

Angina causes the same symptoms as chest pain and shortness of breath because of reduced blood flow to the heart. If it’s just angina, usually one or two pills will make the pain stop and you can move on with your day.

But there are rules when taking these poisonous pills.

First, sit down and try not to touch them. Sublingual nitroglycerin tablets are so strong and fast acting that the chemicals can be quickly absorbed through the skin, drop your blood pressure, and might make you dizzy enough to faint.

Second, you must pay attention to the time.

Pill one—set a timer for five minutes. If the pain doesn’t stop, take a second and reset the clock for another five minutes. If the pain hasn’t gone away after two pills and ten minutes, take a third and seek medical attention immediately because likely, it’s not angina at this point.

It’s a heart attack.

Lately, my husband has had to take nitroglycerin more often than we’d like. This poem came to me minutes after one of these scary times. Thankfully, not every episode of his chest pain is a heart attack.

But every time these pills come out is a chance that it is.


My Tears Must Not Fall.

Hearing his familiar sounds of pain,
Ohh ahh hmm, he sighs aloud.
My ears tune in sharply to listen.

Seeing his eyes squeezed tight, one hand gripping his jaw,
The other touching his chest, he sits forward trying to catch his breath.
My eyes interpret the tell-tale signs.

It doesn’t stop.
I rush to grab the pills,
And fear that it’s happening again.

Opening the amber glass bottle,
Mindful not to touch them,
I carefully pour a tiny white pill into his hand.

It’s placed under his tongue.
I look at my watch,
And the five-minute timer begins.

It doesn’t stop.
Tears rush to my eyes; they must not fall.
Breathe in deeply.

It doesn’t stop.
My tears will stress him; they must not fall.
Exhale slowly.

It doesn’t stop.
It’s been five minutes,
Time to take another, I reset the clock.

I sit at his feet,
Forcing the tears back, they must not fall.
Breathe in, breathe out.

It begins to stop.
A third pill means emergency.
The numbers 9-1-1 drift across my mind.

It has stopped.
My eyes dry up; the tears didn’t fall.
A flood of relief—no, it isn’t happening again.

*Author’s Note: I write my story to spread mental health awareness. My mission in sharing my depression healing journey is to give hope and support to others going through something similar.

Considering my husband’s heart and severe lung disease, I’m often going through scary moments like these and believe they contribute to my depression. It’s hard to always stay in a healthy mental state of mind, but I have learned that coping strategies like breathing (meditation) and journaling my feelings can help manage my fear tremendously.

If you are struggling with depression due to health issues for yourself or loved ones or for any other reason, please know that you are loved and are not alone. ~Crystal


*Note: This piece is the second of a two-part series. Check out part one here.

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