Episode 36

full
Published on:

6th Feb 2024

Cultivating Mental Resilience: Lessons from Waiting for Open Heart Surgery -36

Join Boots Knighton in a thought-provoking conversation about the transformative power of reframing life's challenges. In this episode, Boots shares her experiences of waiting for open heart surgery and how she navigated through fear, impatience, and finally, acceptance. Through her personal journey, she presents valuable insights on embracing difficulties as opportunities for personal growth, resilience, and healing. Through her openness and wisdom, she challenges listeners to shift their mindset from asking "why is this happening to me?" to "why is this happening for me?" Don't miss this inspiring episode that offers a fresh perspective on navigating life's obstacles with courage and grace.

If you are looking for something specific - here's where you'll find it:

05:33 Boots shares how she endured months of fear before heart surgery, reflecting on wisdom gained.

09:39 Reflecting on heart journey, shifting the victim mindset, and focusing on moving forward.

13:41 Adopting a positive mindset can shift situations for the better. Gratitude and visualization can impact outcomes.

15:56 Despite the challenges of heart surgery, Boots feels amazing, emphasizing the importance of attitude and life's lessons.

Boots Knighton has been an educator since the late 1990s in all facets of education including high school science, middle school mathematics, elementary reading, college level ecology, ski instruction, backpacking, and experiential education. Her greatest teacher has been her heart thanks to a surprise diagnosis in 2020 (during the pandemic) of three different congenital heart defects. She is now thriving after her open-heart surgery on January 15, 2021 and is on a mission to raise awareness through her podcast, The Heart Chamber: patient stories of open-heart surgery and recovery, that heart surgery can be an incredible opportunity to begin again in life and live life wide open.

How to connect with Boots

The Heart Chamber - A podcast for heart patients (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

Email: Boots@theheartchamberpodcast.com

Instagram: @theheartchamberpodcast or @boots.knighton

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/boots-knighton

If you enjoyed this episode, take a minute and share it with someone you know who will find value in it as well. You can share directly from this platform or send them to:

The Heart Chamber - A podcast for heart patients (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

Transcript

We feel it is important to make our podcast transcripts available for accessibility. We use quality artificial intelligence tools to make it possible for us to provide this resource to our audience. We do have human eyes reviewing this, but they will rarely be 100% accurate. We appreciate your patience with the occasional errors you will find in our transcriptions. If you find an error in our transcription, or if you would like to use a quote, or verify what was said, please feel free to reach out to us at connect@37by27.com.

Boots Knighton [:

People would like to be able to take a pill that makes their fear and anxiety go away and makes them immediately feel peaceful. This is impossible. One must develop the mind over time and cultivate mental immunity. Often, people ask me for the quickest and best solution to a problem. Again, this is impossible. You can have quickest or you can have best solution, but not both. The best solution to our suffering as mental immunity, but it takes time to develop. I'll be speaking about this today and how to prep for open heart surgery. Be sure to stick around.

Boots Knighton [:

Welcome to The Heart Chamber. Hope, inspiration, and healing. Conversations on open heart surgery. I am your host, Boots Knighton. If you are a heart patient, a caregiver, a health care provider, a healer, or are just looking for open hearted living, this podcast is for you. To make sure you are in rhythm with The Heart Chamber, be sure to subscribe or follow wherever you are listening to this episode. While you're listening today, think of someone who may appreciate this information. The number one-way people learn about a podcast is through a friend. Don't you want to be the reason someone you know gained this heartfelt information? And if you haven't already, follow me on Instagram, 2 different places, at Boots.Knighton or at The Heart Chamber Podcast. You can also find me on LinkedIn as well as Facebook. But enough with the directions, without further delay, let's get to this week's episode.

Boots Knighton [:

Hello, and welcome to episode 36. Thank you so much for coming back for another episode of hope, inspiration, and healing. I am your host, Boots Knighton. And I, in the opening, I was reading from The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams. He interviewed the Dalai Lama and archbishop Desmond Tutu. In the opening, I was reading a quote by the Dalai Lama on page 84.

Boots Knighton [:

I've been getting a lot of questions since my TEDx. I did a TEDx talk in November of 2023, and I titled it, Practicing Dying for Living. And it's been interesting. The main question I've been getting is how did I wait so long for open heart surgery without losing my mind, basically, is what people have been alluding to. Because it was quite some time. And if you are just now finding me in this podcast, welcome. Curious about my story? You can go back and listen to episodes 1 and 2, I also rereleased the episode during Christmas time of 2023. But I did have to wait a while because of COVID, and my congenital defect was so rare and unique. It was hard to find a surgeon and an ICU that wasn't full of COVID patients. It was a crazy time. I just absolutely was so impatient. I was scared. I wasn't able to do anything. I was so handicapped by my heart condition that all I could do was sit and wait for months until I could get surgery.

Boots Knighton [:

And I really lamented that. During that time and the next couple of years after my surgery finally happened and now that I've had 3 years to really process it all and move past it, like, really move past it. And I talked about that in my last episode, episode 35, how my open-heart surgery came and went and I didn't even notice. It was so awesome. But it took this long. It took 3 years for me to really get past the story. And so, now I can look back on it all, and I'm not sad about any of it. I'm not mad about having to wait because I realize the wisdom of it. I realize the wisdom of no escape, which there's a book called, The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chodron. I hope I'm saying her name correctly. And it's a beautiful, incredible book that should be required reading for humanity. But if you're willing to do the work, if you're willing to let go of what you think your life should be, if you're willing to let go of the story of your ego and radically accept where you're at in that moment, that's where the gold is. I couldn't see it at the time because I was truly terrified. I mean, anyone with a heart condition will tell you that, I mean, you really feel like death is next.

Boots Knighton [:

And as I've said before, I'll say it again here. I went to bed every night for months hoping I'd wake up the next day. My husband would later admit to me that 4 months as we were waiting for my surgery, he would wake up in the middle of the night to check to make sure I was still breathing. That was our reality. I can't say I was this perfectly functioning human during that time because fear has a way of bringing out some of my worst qualities as I think anyone would experience. But I'm through it now, and I'm reflecting with you today on the wisdom of not being able to take a magic pill to make it go by faster and the wisdom of developing my mind over time.

Boots Knighton [:

I'm willing to bet a lot of us heart patients have to do that. For some of you listeners, maybe you had a quicker resolution to your heart issues. But the outcome is still the same where we've undergone an incredibly traumatic surgery where other humans have actually touched our hearts, physically touched our hearts. A lot of us have been on a heart lung machine, meaning, as my surgeon like to say, our hearts took a nap, but really our heart was stopped. That has a way of shifting you. Did for me. When we're open like that, physically opened, we are more exposed to the energetics around us. There's just so much to process. But going back to the quote I read at the beginning, I recently was in a session with a Shaw woman, which I highly recommend that all heart patients consider working with a shaman or Shaw woman. It's amazing the wisdom that can be reflected back to you in a session. That's what I've experienced at least.

Boots Knighton [:

We were processing my recent ski accident where I broke my leg. It's now been 7 weeks as of the recording of this episode. And as you've heard in episode 35, I had serious complications. I suffered an NSTEMI heart attack. And I was processing that with her, and I said, I want to know why. I want to know the spiritual reasons behind this whole ordeal. Why did this happen to me? And I knew darn well that was my ego talking. I just want to live a normal life not having to think about my heart. There are days where I am so exhausted from the story. And I want to just move on with my life and take my heart for granted and not have to think about it. And I said to her, can you just give me the answer key? And what I meant by that is, can we just skip to the end when like, where I don't have to process this and think about this for however long it takes, and you can just give me the reasons why this happened. And then I can just quickly learn my lesson and get on to the next thing. And she laughed and I laughed because I know life doesn't work that way. And I also know I'd be cheating myself of the necessary personal growth if I skipped to the answer key in wanting to find out what all of this is here to teach me. That's the big takeaway I want to give to you today.

Boots Knighton [:

ad – Hey there! Just wanted to jump in real quick and tell you about a Facebook community I am opening in March of 2024. Because you are such a part of this podcast and your voice matter. I want to give you an opportunity of being able to chime in and give your perspective and feedback into who to bring on to this podcast. Who to interview, who to give voice to, your opinion matters. They way you can join this Facebook group is if you become a monthly affinity sponsor. You can find out how to do that at TheHeartChamberPodcast.com/support where you can click on the membership link and sign up to be an affinity sponsor. I hope you sign up to be a part of The Inaugural Heart Chamber Podcast Facebook group. Now, let’s get back to the episode.

Boots Knighton [:

For heart month, I said I wanted to give you an actionable takeaway each week through just my own processing of my last 3 years of my heart journey. I want to challenge you today to think about your heart journeys or any physical journey or mental or emotional, spiritual that you're going through at the moment, think about instead of saying, why is this happening to me, reframe it as, why is this happening for me? Skipping back to while I was sitting and waiting for heart surgery, please know I went through months of the victim mindset. It was just part of my grieving process. Blamed my mom for not being born right and looked for all the ways to blame her, I called all my distant family members who I don't even hardly speak to and tell me about my mom. Did you notice if she was doing anything, you know, substance wise while I was in utero? And I even, you know, tried to get my dad involved and none of it was helpful. All it did was stir up painful memories and it dragged my mom through the mud and she's dead. It was so self-serving and it got me nowhere. Because no matter how much I dug, no matter how much I tried to blame, it didn't change the fact that I have 3 defects and I needed surgery, and I needed to focus on moving forward instead of blaming the past.

Boots Knighton [:

But that was part of my process. It was really me just being super ticked off, and the inner child of me was just so scared and mad and just wanted a normal life. I had to go through all that before I could get to how is this happening and why is this happening for me instead of to me. And I also went through a really deep depression. All I could do was sit. I couldn't medicate it all through exercise. I could hardly fix food for myself, so I couldn't medicate with food. I've been, you know, I was sober. At the time, I was over 11 years sober. I wasn't about to sacrifice all of that. I just had to sit and let it all move through me. And thank goodness my therapist and I met every week, and we did EMDR, and I went and had acupuncture. I did all the things I could to keep moving the emotions through me. And it wasn't until probably about a month before my open-heart surgery that I was finally able to get to a place of how is this happening or why is this happening for me. And because of that, I was able to face it and get through it really well, all things considered. But that was like the big leagues. That's like the deepest end of the pool. If we think of life as a pool and you've got, you know, the super shallow end where you learn how to swim and then the super deep end where you can dive, I felt like I was in the deepest end of the pool having to apply this, like, really important ninja life skill of reframing such a hard situation.

Boots Knighton [:

And so, if you're facing surgery or of just a really big obstacle in your life and you winna, like, punch me in the face and be like, Boots, I'm mad. This is not fair. I get it. Try something easier. Let's say you're stuck in traffic today as you listen to this, and you're going to be late to an appointment. Finally, you get to the appointment, let's say you're rerouted because of an accident, and you find out later that, unfortunately, someone perished in that accident. And you being late or being caught in traffic kept you from getting in that accident. That's how that was happening for you. And maybe the appointment you were trying to get to, maybe they needed a few extra minutes before you got there, so they could be in a more centered, present place for your arrival. If you stand or if you choose the mindset of happening for you instead of to you and adopt that more and more in your daily life, it is amazing how the universe starts to conspire on your behalf. You might think of it as God, Buddha, whatever your tradition or religion, think about how when you are approaching situations as happening for you, how that shifts the energy of the situation. When I rolled in to open heart surgery, I remember very specifically looking every single person in the eye in that room and thanking them for being there for me. And I had visualized in those months waiting, I had visualized my surgery going well, and I had visualized all the people in the room having the best day and being in the best health and being in the best spirits.

Boots Knighton [:

And I thought about that over and over. And then when I was in the room with them, I said thank you to each person. I wasn't able to quite get their names. There was no time for that. But I made sure I said thank you for being here for me. This is going to be awesome. I'm going to feel so much better. And lo and behold, 24 hours after open heart surgery, I walked from the ICU to the PCU on my own. And I felt like a brand-new person even though my chest had been cut open, and I had thrown up 25 times after waking up from open heart surgery. I still walked on my own to a whole separate floor and felt amazing.

Boots Knighton [:

And I truly believe all of us can do that. It really comes down to our attitudes and how we're able to frame all the different aspects of our life and what all those different events in our life are here to teach us. So, on this 1st Tuesday of heart month, I invite you to think about how your heart is teaching you, how it is helping you grow, and how whatever is causing you discomfort, whether it's bicuspid valve or myocardial bridging, I mean, you name it. There are endless it seems like endless possibilities of how our hearts can be born differently. I challenge you to think about how that is helping you grow and how that is happening for you. And I want to hear from you. Send me an email, boots@theheartchamberpodcast.com, and tell me if you're even able to get there mentally. And if you aren't, I'd be so honored to help you. The whole point of my podcast is to provide hope, inspiration, and healing. Thank you for being with me today. I love you. You can do this. I'll see you next week.

Boots Knighton [:

Thank you for sharing a few heartbeats of your day with me today. Please be sure to follow or subscribe to this podcast wherever you are listening. Share with a friend who will value what we discussed. Go to either Apple Podcasts and write us a review or mark those stars on Spotify. I read these, and your feedback is so encouraging, and it also helps others find this podcast. Also, please feel free to drop me a note at boots@theheartchamberpodcast.com. I truly want to know how you're doing and if this podcast has been a source of hope, inspiration and healing for you. Again, I am your host, Boots Knighton, and thanks for listening. Be sure to tune in next Tuesday for another episode of The Heart Chamber.

SUPPORT THE HEART CHAMBER

We rely on the generous donations of listeners like you to bring inspiration, hope and healing every week. Thank you for contributing to our cause.
DONATE HERE
A
We haven’t had any Tips yet :( Maybe you could be the first!
Show artwork for The Heart Chamber

About the Podcast

The Heart Chamber
Conversations on open-heart surgery from the patients' perspective
**The name of this podcast is changing on June 4, 2024. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss the announcement!** Join Boots Knighton every Tuesday for conversations on open-heart surgery from the patient perspective. Boots explores the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences of surgery with fellow heart patients and health care providers. This podcast aims to help patients feel less overwhelmed so you can get on with living your best life after surgery. You not only deserve to survive open-heart surgery, you deserve to THRIVE!
Support This Show