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."