3 Recovery Lessons from the Emergency Room




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Carl Thomas

Pastor | Live Free Founder | Lover of Jesus, Philly sports, fitness, tattoos, sarcasm, and craft beers.

This week has been fantastic!

Yes, it’s only Monday (when I wrote this post) but last week this time I was headed to the hospital in an ambulance while the EMT’s worked on bringing my heart rate down from 202 BPM to a normal range.

So yes, this week has been great – if I am comparing it to last week.

And in case you’re curious, I was let go the next day after being diagnosed with SVT (Supraventricular Tachycardia). It’s a serious condition, but typically treatable and not life-threatening.

Long story short… I’m OK.

But it was a pretty scary event for me and gave me a lot of time to think and reflect. It also made me realize a few things about the previous 18–24 months regarding my health and lack of attentiveness that led to this situation.

See, almost two years ago I had a similar event. I was at the gym working out when my heart rate suddenly soared to 175 BPM. I wasn’t light-headed nor did I have chest pain, but it stayed at that high of a rate for almost 10 minutes. I thought it was strange, but I assumed it would subside on its own. So, I went home and waited until my heart rate returned to normal.

Fast-forward about 12 months and the same thing happened but that time I reached 185 BPM, and it got hung up there for 15 minutes.

Guess what?

I did the same thing. I waited it out.

However, everything took a turn last Monday. And suddenly it all made sense – even to the cardiologists.

SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia) is a condition that is quite prevalent. In laymen’s turns, it’s a condition where one has a bad wire in their heart and when that wire gets tripped one’s heart rate can soar and not come down for minutes, even hours.

The problem is it’s very hard to diagnose without an EKG (electrocardiogram) that’s taken during an event. In other words, there needs to be a reading taken when the heart is in spasm. Unfortunately, I didn’t visit the ER the first two times I experienced these symptoms. Sadly, that resulted in my ”virus diagnosis” which is essentially the medical community’s way of saying “we don’t really know what’s going on.”

Which leads me to the 3 lessons I learned that apply not only to one’s health, but also their recovery.

Lesson 1: If something seems off, it probably is off.

My biggest mistake in all this was not calling 9-1-1 when I had my first SVT event. If I had done that earlier, I would have received the correct diagnosis for my condition two years ago. This would have saved me from making multiple visits to different doctors and undergoing numerous tests.

More importantly, I could have avoided the terrible ambulance ride I went through last week.

Listen, when your heart rate goes up to 170+ BPM and doesn’t come down, that’s NOT normal! It doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out, yet I assumed the best and never saw treatment. And while I’m not letting myself off the hook for that, the truth is many of us do this sort of thing all the time, especially when it applies to our emotional state.

When something hurts, stings, or just doesn’t sit right, the best thing you can do is start asking yourself some hard questions. Don’t suppress those feelings. And certainly don’t escape them through porn use, masturbation, and the like.


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Your feelings are not facts. 

But they are warning signs and meant to alert you to the fact that something is not right. Don’t ignore them. Explore them so you can get closer to identifying the emotional danger that lies beneath the surface. 

Because often that danger is a big part of why you’ve been acting out sexually.

Lesson 2: Talk to someone sooner than later.

Since I didn’t have any specific information from my first two SVT events, it made it harder for my doctors to diagnose me. However, the fact that I was working from a very shaky memory when I did try to fill them in on any details only worsened the matter.

Medicine is a pretty exact science. So trying to work off of a patient’s I think’s, not sure’s, somewhere around’s, and possibly’s is almost impossible. But that’s what happens when enough time goes by. We are forced to operate off fuzzy recollections.

Same thing when it comes to your emotional health and/or a relapse event.

Don’t wait for too much time to pass before talking to a friend, your support group, accountability partner, or a therapist. Reach out to him/her/them sooner rather than later. This way, when you meet with them, you’ll have a clear understanding of what occurred, how you felt, and what might have been different if you had reacted differently.

Lesson 3: Get professional help if it keeps happening.

There’s an old familiar saying. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And that applies to this situation.

The first time I had my heart rate soar it could have been a one-off event. Believe it or not, that sort of thing happens. But the second time it occurred I should have seen professional help quicker. Not just when it happened, but right afterward and not a week or two later.

Again, quicker action on my part may have changed the way last Monday played out.

The same principle applies to recovery.

If you frequently experience difficult emotions in certain situations or events, it may be a sign that you are dealing with a pattern. By recognizing and acknowledging these patterns, you can take steps to address and overcome them. 

This often involves seeking professional help who can teach you how to leverage coping strategies to better manage your emotions in these situations. Ultimately, identifying and addressing patterns can help you lead a happier and more fulfilling life which will result in a reduced compulsion to act out. 

Therapy may sound like an extreme step. But it’s not. I strongly believe that seeking professional counseling can be beneficial for everyone, regardless of how well they may be currently doing. And that applies even more so when one has obvious emotional wounds that need addressing.


We all have emotional wounds. 
We all have experienced degrees of trauma. 
We all wrestle with identity issues at times.

And these sources of pain will manifest themselves in other areas of your life. It’s inevitable. So when that happens, don’t ignore or run from those situations. Face them, talk to someone, and get help. 

Because if you don’t, it will only get worse, not better.

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