Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mending a Heart

Very little has ever interfered with my appetite. About the only thing that keeps me from wanting to eat is actual nausea and or vomiting. So far so good. No loss of appetite, no shortage of things to eat. Oddly, throughout the months of having atrial fibrillation, I had no clue that I should feel like crap. I thought I was fine, except for the fact that my psychiatrist had lowered my dose of antidepressant, and I was slipping into depression. I know the symptoms of an oncoming depression. The first thing to start to go wrong is mental acuity, the brain becomes sluggish and slow. And then there is a physical slowing down, which I notice most in my fingers, since they feel leaden and clumsy. The fact that this slowing down is systemic doesn't bother me as much as the fact that typing becomes almost impossible. And then I get pissed off. In the literature on bipolar disorder this irritability is a red flag that the patient is transitioning from "normal" into either hypomania or depression. So the mental health professionals watch for these changes--forgetting that we all have plenty of reasons to feel irritable at least once a day. Another thing they watch for, especially with a patient who actually has had a major psychosis (complete with hallucinations) is too much happiness. It was my being "too happy" that made my psychiatrist decide to cut me down to regular happiness by decreasing my antidepressant. I have learned my lesson--in future I'll be just barely happy enough when I go into her office.

So now I'm wondering if my irritability was a reaction to feeling fatigued, because my resting heart rate is at end-of-marathon levels all day every day. This also might explain the leaden feeling in my fingers--the only muscles I exercise every day. I did notice that on a leisurely walk around the block with my old dog, my thighs burned--this I chalked up to my incredibly sedentary life, and resolved to walk an extra block now and then. So now that I know why I'm so lazy, my dog and I just stroll slowly up and down the alley behind my house.

Now I have a whole new array of pills to take, and god knows what these drugs are doing to my mental acuity, my happiness index. But, happily, I've finished the anti-coagulant that had to be injected subcutaneously into my belly. Thank god that's over with because it was a twice daily reminder that my belly is fatter than I'd noticed before. I was also glad to learn that if I had to inject myself, or anyone else, I could do it.

This is what we (my cardiologist and I) now know, after I swallowed their little camera. There are no clots in my heart--this reduces my risk of a massive stroke and or heart attack. We also know that paddling me with the jolt-your-heart-paddles, did not jolt my heart into a normal rhythm. The only result of the paddling is burns and bruising on my chest and back. Next up is a procedure to repair the hole in my heart the little camera found, and zapping a nerve that might be causing the abnormal rhythm. For those of you enthralled with the space program, it just might be a teflon patch that fixes the hole in my heart. Thank you space race for teflon and Tang. For my many ex-husbands and discarded lovers who will be saying, "I always knew that bitch had a hole in her heart," I say "Fuck you."


Ghost Dansing said...

And my heart hit a problem, in the early hours,
So I stopped it dead for a beat or two.
But I cut some cord, and I shouldn't have done it,
And it won't forgive me after all these years

So I sent it to a place in the middle of nowhere
With a big black horse and a cherry tree.
Now it won't come back, 'cause it's oh so happy
And now I've got a hole for the world to see

cherry tree

Utah Savage said...

Ghost that video clip speaks to me on so many levels. Love the performer and have never seen her before, so thanks for that.

I have been a horse woman all my life. Started riding very young as a way to get away and never stopped loving that feeling of highflying freedom. Luckily for me, one of my best friends growing up was such a serious horse woman that she never traveled anywhere without trucking at least two horses with her. Then she settled down to serious horse business and got the contract to run the University of Utah's Equestrian program. I always got to ride the really great horses, the one's whose lazy owners never came to exercise them. I learned to ride English and cross country, but never well enough to teach dressage or the hunter jumper classes, but I did teach western classes, and I took groups out on trail rides up a gorgeous place called Corner Canyon. We often went on overnight trail rides, camping with our horses. We went on rides every full moon, late at night. And in my fifties I dated a man who was a polo player with two great polo ponies. We spent the winter training and conditioning the horses and in the spring he taught me to play polo. I like the wild things, the fast horses and naughty women who love them. I like the full on galloping that scares my girlfriends so much, now no one will ride with me. And they turned Corner Canyon into a sub-division. My horsey friend move to Green River where the red-necks live. And I became a recluse. Such is life.

One of my favorite songs is Criminal. is it Fiona Apple who sings that. I am that kind of old woman. Criminal.

Ghost Dansing said...


Liberality said...

Isn't it ironic that your mother, by not loving you as she should, have put a hole in your heart emotionally and now you find out that this hole is actually, literally there? Or maybe I just read too much into things...

Utah Savage said...

Lib, you are so perceptive. As usual. Glad to see you out and about again.

E said...

Clotlessness is next to godliness; that's what I always say.

That's some good news right there, my friend! Keep us posted on the hole situation.

TomCat said...

Teflon tends to wear out much to quickly and I never did develop a taste for Tang, but the space race gave us something else. Getting computers small enough for launch also got them small enough to put one on a desktop. All that poking and prodding would make me nervous.

LB said...

As usual, I've already forgotten my name for replies, so I'm setting up yet another account to respond to your piece. Already did once, but then failed at producing name/password.
This is a great little piece; you manage to convey so much information about the world, drugs, your anatomy, and then such great phenomenological descriptions of your self--how if feels to be living your experience.
If you haven't, take a look at Alice Munro's, Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage; talk about packing incredible amounts of inner-life description in a line or two.
Love your writing.
lb reader