Sunday, April 12, 2015


In the past few days, I have had to come to terms with the fact that it is not a good idea to pretend to myself that a heart that jumps around and thumps hard, then waits a few seconds to thump again, is a heart that is behaving properly.  Apparently it is not.

I had had other indicators which I chose to ignore and blithely assumed the best when I ought to be hieing myself to the doctor to request answers.  There was no pain, no fainting, no dizziness; ie., there was nothing wrong.  Right?

I turned in the aforementioned Holter monitor on Wednesday afternoon, went home and took a much-needed shower, secure in the conviction that Dr. A's assurances were right on target and that I had nothing to worry about.

Thursday about noon, the phone rang and an unfamiliar voice said "I just read the findings from your Holter test and you need a pacemaker as soon as possible."  What?  What?  What happened to the kindly doc who said "you're probably fine, but we'll do this Holter just in case"?  This wasn't he on the phone; it was somebody else.

After some back and forths of disbelief rapidly replaced by the authoritative tones of the cardiac nurse, backed up by Dr. A's affirmation of same, I went home, packed a bag, and hitched a ride with a friend up to St. V's in Portland, where I spent two nights hooked up to monitors that beeped and screeched all during the first night and were blessedly quiet during the second night----because a pacemaker had pacified my rambunctious heart.

I did not realize until the procedure was done and I was lying in bed with my book that night that a peaceful heart does not jump and throb and thump disconcertingly if it is behaving properly.

I have to think about why I would disregard and shrug off such obvious red flags as "grey-outs", where my vision would, for a second or two, dim as though I was about to faint, though I never felt dizzy or lightheaded, just briefly "greyed".  Or the thumps and hesitations that would disrupt my sleep occasionally so that I would wake up, assuming it was because I had to go to the john, but then would be very conscious of the thumpings and hesitations when I went back to bed.

I am perfectly capable of convincing myself that I have some dread malady when other kinds of symptoms crop up (what's that pain?  why am I itching there?  where did that bruise come from?) and have spent time consulting St. Google for help.  Unfortunately, St. G did not link "grey-outs" to anything resembling my thumpety-bumping heart, so I never did either.  Shows you what a great diagnostician the Goog is.

So now I am thanking my lucky stars and the universe which bequeathed me this resilient body---which didn't crap out on me in the middle of the night but woke me up and jump-started my 20 beats per minute back up to 60, at least until I went back to sleep.  I coulda crapped out, according to the docs, and who would have fed the cat then?

So happy to be alive.  So happy to have a regular heartbeat after all this time of enduring the jumping-bean ticker.  So happy to feel exhilarated by every new day.  Thanks be to the docs and the friends and the power beyond human power, which infuses us with the will to live.

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