Monday, September 14, 2009

BJP Finished for Year!

bead journal project, robin atkins, bead embroidery, heat gone haywire
Heart Gone Haywire is the title for my August BJP piece.

Starting in July, I began having episodes where my heart beat rapidly, sometimes very rapidly and sometimes quite irregularly. When it kept happening, I finally went to our clinic and did the EKG thing. It looked normal, so they put me on a Holter Monitor (EKG you wear for a day). On that particular day, I only had two very brief episodes.

So, long story short, I'm now wearing a King of Hearts Monitor for 4-6 weeks. It looks like a pager, clipped on my jean's pocket and it's wired to my chest with snap-on adhesive pads (nasty). Whenever I have an episode, I push a button to record a minute of EKG. It's a smart monitor, because it can also auto-detect and record episodes (when I'm sleeping or not noticing). Once a day, I telephone an 800 number to send the recordings.

After he reviews the recordings next month, I'll meet with my cardiologist and we'll decide what to do about this. In the meantime, it's disturbing and a bit worrisome. Although I understand that modern medicine does heart fixes really well, my remote island location contributes to my concerns. Don't know if it's the heart or the worry (or both), but I'm feeling slow and tired most of the time now.

bead journal project, robin atkins, bead embroidery, heat gone haywire, totem animals detail
So this piece is all about my heart, showing its electrical system misfiring and my two totem animals (rabbit and tiger) who are there to comfort and guide me through this process. The white eye-lash trim around my heart is protective and healing (I hope).

Please note: I wrote three short posts today! Scroll down to see the other two or click here (teaching - last chance) and here (BJP presentation - Portland, OR).


  1. Fabulous fabulous piece, Robin!

    My husband has periodic atrial fibrillation and it has been amazing to me to learn how many folks I know who go through this. All the best to you and your (very big, generous) heart :-)

  2. Awesome piece, Robin, even though it is about something a bit scary for you.

    Has your doctor checked your thyroid levels? Believe it or not, thyroid changes can cause these same episodes to occur.

    Kathy V in NM

  3. You truly put your heart into your art for this final 2009 BJP piece. Take good care of yourself.

  4. Hi robin

    Worry and tension will certainly take their toll on your body and that may be all there is to that. It is wonderful the things they can do today like wearing the monitor and the Dr. being able to review it daily.
    It may be nothing much and they may be able to treat it with meds.

    We will hope for the best. I am so glad I took your beading class a couple of years ago as I would have felt bad if you stopped travelling and teaching and I hadn't had the opportunity to meet you.



  5. I think bead journaling your fears is a positive way of trying to work through the anxieties and stress of worrying...and isn't that what this project is all about?


  6. I just went back and looked more carefully at your piece. You know,you use a lot of bright, happy colors, not ones I would normally associate with fear or worries. I hope this means that everything will work out for you.


  7. I agree with Susan, this is a great way to work with anxiety around a health (or any) issue. It's a lovely piece, I especially like your totem animals inside your heart for comfort! Take care.

  8. You seem such a harmonious person at the core, Robin, that it is a surprise that your heart should play up. Of course, the heart has its place far below the surface and we do not know what signals it is receiving there to ignite the alarm buttons. Think of your heart lovingly, and try not to worry too much, as that in turn would do you no good. And please, check and double-check any medication that you might be prescribed. But above all let us hope that the missed respectively extra jumps your heart does will prove to be harmless.

    Trying to send you calm and strength,

  9. Forgot to mention your wonderful August BJP piece! Selfishly, I wish it would enlarge more. Your piece may be telling a haywire story, but certainly not a gloomy one. I am therefore sure that your totem animals are doing a good job. Dare I mention that the tiger looks as if he could use some exercise?


  10. I was surprised when I read this post as one of my best friends is going through exactly the same thing right now. She owns our LBS. Do you hate that monitor as much as she does? Take good care of yourself as you are very important to all of us. You have been our guide and inspiration for the past two years. Let us lend you our support now. Prayers and positive thoughts are going out for you.

  11. Hi Robin
    Your page is perfect expression of your heart health concerns.

    As I was reading your explanation, it made me marvel at the knowledge and technology available today.

    What I got from it is that your Doctors don't seem to be too concerned as far as this is not an emergency situation. Look for the cause and decide how to treat.

    Maybe this was a signal from your guiding forces that it is time to slow down a bit and find more time to relax. Since you are cutting back on teaching, I would say that you have heard. I am happy about that.

  12. Anonymous5:31 AM

    A couple thoughts that come to mind on seeing this BJP piece, reading your post about it, and then receiving your book "Heart to Hands Bead Embroidery".

    Quoting from your book: "Through creative work of our hands, we are allowed a visit to the inner world of our soul, the home of understanding and healing." Of course, the word "healing" jumps out at me. We all need to pay attention to whatever needs healing in our lives, and your decision to slow down speaks volumes. Also, while I understand your title for this piece, "Heart Gone Haywire", I cannot help but see the shape of an "anchor". I see that as a possible unconscious awareness that avoiding stress as you go forward will help anchor your well-being.

    Thank you so much for autographing and drawing such lovely little doodles on the opening page of your book! One of them is a heart, and now I'm thinking the other squiggly, delicate lines could represent "haywires". Not to worry, they are quite orderly, and like little ducks, they are all in a row. You have them under control!

  13. I suppose all this is causing you to explore another space, dear Robin, the space between sickness and health...and I have no doubt that you will find energy and creativity from it.

    Jim too has these periodic atrial fibrillations, and, he does take thyroid meds and they've never been able to figure it out so he lives with it. But on those days, he does experience a tremendous amount of anxiety so I can only imagine the rollercoaster you are on.

    As for your work this month, my first impression was of a sacred heart and then of a detente. Detentes were embroidered or painted talismans or pictures of saints worn over the heart (particularly French soldiers heading into battle) to protect the wearer from danger or attack. I think that might be appropriate in this instance...maybe you could make a small detente to carry with easy in the knowledge that we are all wishing you the best. love, Susan

  14. Oh Robin,I'm so sorry to hear that you are having some problems with your heart. I don't know how common this problem is, but my sister in law who is in her late 30s has the same problem. Her Cardiologist told her that it was a genetic defect especially associated with taller women. She does fine & I swear with running a catering service, raising 4 children & being active in her church, you'd never know she had any physical problems at all. I'm sending good vibes to you that either some medication or a small change in your life style can take care of this. Big gigantic hugs coming your way.


  15. Robin, nice piece reflecting what's been going on for you. You do seem to have quite a lot going on..I had same problem and cut out all my diet pepsi and coffee..(almost all) and haven't had that happen in a very long time. You continue to be an inspiration to all of us, take care of yourself

  16. Anonymous12:48 PM

    Stunning piece of work, again Robin, and,given the nature of the blog, a surprisingly upbeat one.

    You probably are a TV addict like me but today they had on that new Dr OZ program and the subject was on the fact that many Drs don't recognise women's heart problems as quickly as they would a man, mainly because we present with different symptoms. Anyway its seems that your Doctor has it under control but thyroid does seem a possibility given your tiredness as well.

  17. Love the piece- the colors are very happy and energetic. the stress and the not knowing and the anxiety that it all produces, is making you tired. It could all be from hormaonal changes that many women go thru. The monitor is a good thing and your Dr. is on top of it all. Go ahead and bead something fun!!!!!
    Prayers and healing thoughts are headed your way!!
    Big Healthy heart hugs!!

  18. Robin, my 25 year old daughter has had the same problem for about 3-4 years now. She went through the same process as you are doing now. She disliked the monitor as much as you do. The adhesive not very skin friendly! But, her symptoms were the same as yours and the cardiologist could find nothing wrong with her heart and no real explanation as to cause. I sincerely hope that the final diagnosis for you is the same. But, I understand the anxiety those attacks produce. Best wishes to you. Your piece is a great expression of your feelings at this time. Isn't it wonderful that you have beading to provide an outlet for your thoughts.
    Keeping good thoughts going your way,

  19. I hope you find that the problem is minor. Stress causes mine to flutter. Isn't it wonderful that they can monitor it with less inconvience to you? The piece says it all. We will all be thinking of you and waiting to hear that you are OK>

  20. Sorry to hear this, Robin. Hope they can pin point the problem soon. Good thoughts and prayers from Willow Manor.

  21. I am sorry to hear about your heartbeat problems Robin. At the same time you do seem do be in good hands. Sometimes a low level of magnesium in the body can produce these symptoms.

    Take care. Hugs.


  22. ah, Robin. You are doing the exact right things to get your heart checked out and you can do no more, other than what the doctors tell you and believing you can get through this. I myself have a really fast heart rate, at 135 beats resting and they were actually going to cancel my last surgery because of it before I convinced them and they checked it out that it is "normal" for me. Your BJP is a perfect depiction of your fear and worry.... and definitely keep being artful, it got me through a major crisis... it can work for you for sure!

  23. Despite the problem with the irregular heartbeat, your piece still portrays a very positive outlook. The colours are bright and the pathway seems clear. Rest, reflect, bead, stay off caffeine, try to avoid stress and enjoy your life. Leave the worries to the doctors.

  24. I am so sorry that this is going on - all of this can't be easy for you, dear Robin. You've already been through so much with Robert's wellness, too, that it must feel overwhelming at times. Being taped up to a little machine must feel quite intrusive but I hope it will prove to be only a minor irritant compared to the information/knowledge it shares with your doctor.

    Your BJP piece is STRONG - just like you! I especially love the white "eyelashes" because it reminds me of being *frayed around the edges* and I think all of us, as we get older, become frayed around the edges in our own special & unique ways.

    I am going to hold the image of your heart issue as simply being a little frayed (afraid) but not that you are torn, or broken. You are a strong and loving woman, my friend, and you can get through this, whatever it might entail.

    Holding positive thoughts of you in my heart,

  25. Robin, you are in my thoughts and prayers as you struggle through this health trial. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing. Your beading always seems to reflect what is going on in your life and that is one aspect of your art that I admire. As you make changes in your life may you find joy and peace on the road ahead.

  26. Hi Robin, So sorry to hear about the heart palpitations. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  27. Dear Robin,
    Primary colors, clear and strong. Rabbit and tiger still, observing one another. Perhaps tiger and rabbit are at odds a bit, changing their relationship as you are changing your focus?

    Protective white energy bathing and balancing your heart, restoring order and calm.

    My prayers join so many others for your comfort and renewed well-being.

  28. Anonymous5:21 AM

    All the best with this Robin -I also wish you strength and comfort.The piece you have worked on is beautiful and I love the little totem animals.My thoughts are with you and hope you have answers for your health concerns soon.

  29. Well I hope they've found it's just a temporary thing and nothing serious. I've only had one episode of this and it was because I was breaking dead branches off of an oleander plant. I knew they were poisonous but I didn't know how easily it could affect one! It's not a comfortable feeling so I really hope they solve it for you.

    Your page looks terrific as usual. Now if only I can finish mine!

  30. I can honestly tell you that there are lots of hope for heart problems these days. So do take care and you are in my prayers. Your beaded project is amazing.


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!