Monday, May 26, 2008

Gone Sicky

I haven't felt well for a long time. Roughly a month ago I got one possible answer--I am in atrial fibrillation. My resting heart rate is marathon runner's range after a marathon. And my blood pressure starts high in the morning, which makes me feel oddly energetic, and then crashes sometime in the mid afternoon, leaving me fainting and weak. I have what in my grandmother's day was called malignant hypertension. Now they just call it high blood-pressure. Mine was diagnosed in my late teens, about the same time I started experiencing the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety disorder, and severe depression, and then eventually bipolar disorder.

I have been on a huge number of blood-pressure medications over my lifetime. The hypertension is a family trait on my mother's side of the family. But on both sides of my family, it is the heart that finally kills you. It is a family of broken hearts. The men all die suddenly of massive coronary events, going along, feeling fine, and then blam, dead instantly, and in some cases young--my oldest half-brother had his big event in his mid forties. The women in my mother's family have not faired as well--they all have small strokes that eventually leave them with what is called vascular dementia. It is very like Alzheimer's disease. And ends the same way.

My fibrillation which was pretty much asymptomatic, got picked up when I visited my doctor about some routine blood-work that was not great news. Because I have this family history, and am on blood pressure medications, my doctor always checks, and this last time my blood-pressure was so hinky, they did an EKG, which showed the arterial fibrillation.

So with the referral to a cardiologist, I got the full treatment--echo cardiogram (fibrillating like crazy), visit to the cardiologist and another EKG, still fibrillating, a whole array of new medications, a procedure to check for blood clots in the heart (No blood clots) then the paddling several times to try to shock my heart back into normal rhythm. No luck with that, only burns and bruises on my chest and back, and another batch of drugs to get me ready for an angioplasty. So I have a small window of feeling well each day. I start the day feeling well enough to write, brain seems to be in order, but by mid-afternoon I start to crash. My brain stops working so well, I begin to feel like I might faint, so I work my way across the room to my bed and after taking my afternoon hand-full of meds., I gradually begin to come back to physical functioning, but my brain doesn't work as well. So learning things is more difficult. I have been trying to learn to link, so I can become a full-fledged, functioning member of the smart, savvy blogging community.

I only started blogging in January, and did not have great computer skills to begin with. I have a wonderful Administrator who has been kind enough to teach me what I've been able to learn, and who has tricked out my blog, so my creative writing sites are linked and the chapters of my book, Maggy, are linked and the book can be read chapter after horrifying chapter. But he's been trying to teach me to do these things for myself, to make me less dependent, more skilled. I worry that he will give up on me, since I learn so slowly the simple things he has so patiently been trying to teach me. Nothing new seems to stick in my brain. I want to make him a lovely care package to thank him for the time, the patience, the friendship and generosity, but I don't feel well enough to venture out and get the tin for the two kinds of homemade cookies he craves. It will all work out, one way or another. But for the time being I will remain merely a writer with no tricks up my sleeve, and settle for editing the final chapters of the book in preparation for learning how to post and link them.

And if I get boring in this period of brainlessness, I can only hope you will seek entertainment by reading the book, leaving me breadcrumbs to let me know you've stopped by.


DivaJood said...

I doubt that you will ever become boring. You might rest, you might be a little bit quiet, but not boring.

Deep, cleansing breaths, sista.

Naj said...

Utah, dear, you want brainless? I have something fun for you:

Now THAT is brainless!

what you suffer(ed) is what I study; and what helps is humor; which you have; I LAUGH out loud reading your book; and I wish I had a hard copy to highlight it and keep memories of what I found funny for others whom I would ask to read the book.

Enjoy your break

And if you like, please give me one of Maggy's recipes :)

DivaJood said...

Big hugs to you. I deal with chronic physical shite also - two auto-immune disorders (fibromyalgia and PBC) along with osteoarthritis which is quite painful, so I get it. I understand completely.

Stella said...

Breadcrumbs left, my friend. I found myself unable to comment on one of the chapters. I need time to frame my thoughts.

How can it be possible that you only started blogging in January? Your writing touches us all. Well, except Brainless Petro: that's a compliment ;-)

With all you've endured, you're one strong woman. I so admire your wit and intelligence. (You'd have to work extremely hard to be brainless.) I'm sorry you're having health issues, Utah.

Drop me a line if you need to chat: I promise I'll answer this time.

D.K. Raed said...

UT you will never be boring. You can learn to link anytime, first you need to get yourself back to feeling better. If that eventually leads to angioplasty, so be it. I've got a cousin & a friend who've had 2 angio's each & are doing very well now.

It sounds like you hit a wall sometime each mid-afternoon. I'm sure you are discussing this with your physicians so they can review possible Rx interactions. It sucks to feel so awful, especially if it happening repeatedly every day.

But I have to say, you ARE a full-fledged member of the blogging community! I know I've said this before, but you don't need all the bells & whistles, just good writing, which you have in abundance.

I promise I will be reading your other writings soon. Looking forward to it, in fact. And you know I usually leave more than breadcrumbs ...

Femail doc said...

Atrial fibrillation, not arterial. You should quit smoking ASAP. Have you? You do not want to go demented.

karenzipdrive said...

Dr. Zipdrive here, and I suggest you invest a portion of your economic stimulus check on a bag of high grade weed.
Not only can you smoke it, it makes a swell tea, an admirable cooking ingredient, and while it may or may not help your high blood pressure, a snootful of weed will make you not care enough about other people's nonsense to get stressed.

Karen Zipdrive, MD*

*Medical Dope

Femail doc said...

US, don't think for a moment I don't know what a wonderful drug nicotine is. Our brains are full of nicotine receptors and function ever so much better with nicotine on board. Researchers are working on nicotine analogues that can be taken orally instead of being smoked. Have you considered Ariva--that purified tobacco lozenze that you park in a chewing tobacco sort of way between cheek and gum?

Shoot, some parents oughtn't be parents in their misguided nurturing sorts of notions. Sorry your health is such a challenge, especially that no blood to brain p.m. fog thing.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Utah, do you have paroxysmal atrial fib (the kind that comes and goes on its own)? That's what I have (developed it about 9 years ago, the stress of caring for a sick and dying wife). I find that, more than anything, stress brings it on (adrenalin). Do you have that or the primary a-fib?

FranIAm said...

Here to leave you some love and good wishes (and you know I mean prayers too but not the kind for you to change, just to be healed) and so much more.

Wow, what a story my dear Utah Savage... what a story.

Do take care of yourself with great love.

As for Maggy, I am going to begin reading.

enigma4ever said...

I am so sorry you are going through this heart stuff..I hope you feel better after the angiopasty....and btw you are never boring...and we are still here...we all cope with different long as we help each other get through...

Beach Bum said...

And if I get boring in this period of brainlessness...

Don't think that is possible.

Freida Bee said...

Even this is interesting to me, so don't stop unless you want to. I finally went over to your Maggy site and it is gorgeous, particularly contnetwise. I know which is the next novel I'm reading.

Your administrator has done well by you. I'm not sure how to do all that. Linking's not such a big deal, but it's my only blog trick, so don't tell anyone that..