This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s health scare, when, after a long, hot day of gardening, he landed in the E.R. with severe abdominal pain.* The events of that weekend seem almost surreal to me now.
We still don’t really know what caused the blood clot. Tests last fall (repeated in the spring) showed no conditions, genetic or otherwise, that would predispose him to clots. He has next-to-no lifestyle risk factors (eats well, exercises, doesn’t smoke), and his cholesterol and blood pressure have always been well within the healthy range. There was just one “little” thing . . .
. . . STRESS!
Earlier this week, Matthew sent me a link to this Time article, which reports new findings on the link between stress and blood clotting.
We suspected extreme work-related stress may have been a factor in last summer’s blood clot, and, afterward, Matthew took some steps to reduce and better manage his stress levels.
The odd thing is that almost all of us, are, at some point in our lives fairly stressed, whether it’s due to work, home life, finances, health, personal relationships, or some combination of those factors. We may, at times, be walking around with elevated white blood cell counts, perhaps even with low-level, early stage clots that our bodies dissolve on their own.
But we don’t all have serious blood clots that land us in the hospital for a few days, especially when we’re young and healthy. So what made Matthew “special?”
That’s the million-dollar question, really. Of the two of us, I would say he’s better at dealing with stress and not worrying or getting stressed in the first place. Perhaps the chronic stress he was experiencing at work just overwhelmed his body’s ability to deal with the blood clot before it became a problem.
At any rate, it’s a good reminder that we can eat nutritious food and exercise until the cows come home, but our bodies are not just machines. We also need to nurture our mental health. Deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation exercises are good places to start. This is very much a work in progress for me.
What are your tips and tricks for managing stress and relaxing?
*To be on the safe side, I’m keeping him out of the garden this weekend! (Though the garden is, in general, one of his stress-relieving activities.)