Heartburn, Acid Indigestion and Heart Attack
- Three years ago I had an episode of severe chest pain that resulted
in me being hospitalised for 3 days, while the doctors tried to
unravel whether my symptoms were of digestive and/or cardiac origin -
not an easy task because laboratory tests revealed that my
cholesterol level was raised, plus my age was regarded as
a "significant risk factor" and I was also under significant
financial and work-related stress.
Digestive and coronary thrombosis/narrowed coronary arteries
symptoms often go together. A heart attack was quickly ruled out in
my case because heart muscle enzyme levels in my blood (from death
of blood-starved heart muscle cells) were not raised and my ECG
trace was not obviously disturbed.
In the end it was concluded that I had "acid reflux oesophagitis" -
acute inflammation of the gullet from regurgitation of stomach acid.
Links Between Heart and Stomach
The experience prompted me to reflect on the close anatomical and
physiological relationship between stomach and heart, and the many
common factors that influence both e.g. diet, exercise and stress.
I have been prompted to recall this unpleasant experience this week
as a result of watching Disk 2 of the 2005 Channel 4
documentary "Anatomy for Beginners". [I have posted here before
about Disk 1 in this series, see "Human Anatomy comes to Life - On 3
Disk 2 focuses on the digestive and reproductive organs (including
an eye-watering dissection of the penis and testicles and an MRI
scan of a couple having sex - how on earth did they both squeeze
into an MRI scanner without losing their passion?)
The demonstrations (on cadavers, live models and artistic diagrams)
brought home to me just how amazingly close the fundus of the
stomach is to the heart and Professor John Lee gives an excellent
account of how the opening to the oesophagus can be influenced by a
gas pocket in the fundus and exacerbated by, in particular, alcohol,
coffee and chocolate.
This fits well with what happened to me. I had been indulging in
wine, coffee and chocolate in the days before my "acute chest pain"
incident. I had also been eating quite a lot of full-fat cheese,
which may have been a factor (probably also a factor in my raised
Healing Unhealthy Cravings
The incident set me on a "healing journey" of working on my symptoms
and their "unhealthy lifestyle" implications. I partly worked on
the "raised cholesterol" aspect, but also worked on the "subtle
energy" symptom of "congested/constricted" heart chakra, which I had
opportunity to tune into during the long hours of hospitalisation. I
recalled a couple of previous "congested/constricted heart chakra"
incidents of similar symptoms, the first being after the death of my
father in 1998.
Interestingly, the "healing journey" that I embarked upon as a
result of this dramatic hospitalisation incident, resulted in me
entirely losing my craving for coffee - it began to taste
increasingly bitter and when I finally quit coffee, 2 years ago, it
took no effort at all. I still love the smell of coffee and love to
hang around coffee shops or make cups of coffee it for other people,
but I have no desire to drink it any more.
Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I have not lost my love of chocolate
or cheese, but I do avoid excess consumption (usually a warning sign
of deeper issues going on!) now - well, mostly!
Shamanic Healing Aspects
I progressed my "Healing Journey" away from recurrence of these symptoms by means of basic healthy lifestyle knowledge combined with cognitive therapy techniques, but also used a "Shamanic Healing" approach in which, via focussing on the symptoms, I received an inner archetypal image ("power animal" in the Native American tradition) - much to my surprise, this was a turtle.
During the acute episode this turtle was fighting for its life in a dark polluted sea. As my healing progressed, this image progressed to the point where the archetypal turtle struggled onto land and released its creativity (a buried nest of eggs)onto the world. In the final scene a horde of newly hatched turtles rushed joyously into the sea!
I would really recommend "Anatomy for Beginners", which is available as a 2-disk DVD set: http://www.Amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007SME7M/sunflowerheal-21).
Not only is it educational about basic (non-technical) human
anatomy and physiology, but it is also a good way to confront any
hang-ups we have about death and dead bodies - helped by the
amazingly funny eccentricity and enthusiasm for cadavers of the
German "Professor of Plastination" Dr Gunther von Hagens combined
and contrasted with the "down-to-earth" matter-of-factness of
English pathologist Professor John Lee.
The combination of art, technology, live models, corpses and
preserved specimens is unique and very powerfully instructive. You
have never had an anatomy lesson like this one!
Enjoy your coffee break or glass of wine (may be your last chance
before watching this DVD!)