I’ve been holding a secret and deep fear inside for two weeks.
I’ve been extremely short of breath and very scared my time was coming to an end. I didn’t know what to do. I chose to keep on going because I had a pacemaker and felt I couldn’t be having another heart attack or problem. So, I just persevered.
But this morning when I got up, I could not walk to the house carrying wood. I dropped the wood and came inside to lie down and think. That’s why I decided to go to Nanaimo, hoping I could beg 5 minutes with my pacemaker technician. I wanted to ask her if I should see a doctor. When I got to the hospital, I had to walk from my car to the entrance to the hospital (a half block and all on a flat plane), and I had to stop to catch my breath twice. Twice! To walk half a block.
I was really worried … and scared. How I felt was exactly like I was feeling., but I didn’t want to be a baby or a neurotic, so I did nothing. For two weeks, I’ve been out of breath — even walking Sheba on flat ground was exhausting. I became concerned that my heart was packing it in. But then I wondered: how could I have heart problems when I have I a pacemaker?
The pacemaker technician had me kill some time and come back at 11:30, bless her. As soon as she called me in, my concern and a description of my challenges poured out of me. She asked me how long I’d been feeling short of breath, and I told her it had been two weeks.
She hooked me up to her computer and started analyzing the data from my pacemaker. “Ah ha,” she said, “I think I see something.” I was so relieved to hear those words. I felt enormous relief, being in her care, being there and believing that I’d be able to walk again without constant exhaustion. And … that I wasn’t imagining things.
She made a bunch of changes to the programming of my pacemaker and sent me off to walk, and I climbed to see if I could do it. I’d gone up three floors of stairs. Yes, I was a little pooped at the top, but prior to her tweaks I make even the first floor without needing a rest.
When I got back, she said, “Come and look at this.” She punched a few buttons and then a chart came up on the screen. Two weeks prior to my appointment, to the day, my heart stopped working properly. Up until two weeks ago, my pacemaker assisted in 9% of my heartbeats; for the past two weeks, 100% of my heartbeats were assisted.
“Why didn’t you call me as soon as you noticed the shortness of breath?” she said.
“I was trying to figure out what to do, but I wasn’t sure if it was asthma, anxiety, or weight gain,” I replied. But now I know to call her if this happens again. Passing out, shortness of breath. Fuck. I thought all this was over with the pacemaker.
This past two weeks was my fifth cardiac malfunction. I am in touch with my mortality.
When I got home, I had a couple of marijuana gummies and lay on the couch to vegetate the afternoon away.
My fifth coronary event; three events in the past two years—two of them in the past three months. There’s a trend here.
I am re-doing my will and going over my POA and POR.
And I’m gunna hire hookers.
So, now I carry on and see what happens on the hill on the Ricki Ave. trail. And if I can sustain carrying things. I’ll be evaluating my life on a different pacemaker algorithm, then going back to the pacemaker clinic, and then doing that again in a month. The hookers will help me evaluate the sustainability of sexual activity at my current frequency.
Truly, this event has changed me. I am getting nervous because the state, that dare not speak its name, is getting closer. The gloom within will pass, but my sense of being feels different because I’m terribly conscious of mortality.
Interesting side note: I wrote here yesterday about how fluent I was. When I went to The Surf to meet my gay cabal, two of the eight of us were new members. I sat beside one of them, and I was fluent all night. Yesterday, on the ferry going to Nanaimo in the morning, I came across cabal member Dan, and I could barely speak to him. Not only that, I truly love the guy. He’s irresistible. But I could barely speak to him.
On the ferry, we were alone. There were other people, but they were far away. It was early in the morning. It mystifies me that I cannot speak with Dan alone, but I could be fluent with a group of eight. The reverse of that has been my experience since FND began. Suddenly it’s backwards. I go through life like this. I never know how speech is going to go until I start speaking. There’s no pattern.
I understand it this way: I live in a constantly changing sensory environment, and my brain, for reasons I can’t explain, gives me fluency or not, based on what I call, “stimulants” in the various environments I pass through day-to-day.
I joined a Canadian FND Facebook group. I read about the newbies; everyone talks about their symptoms and life with their symptoms. I often say to myself: “Thank God I didn’t get that one.” Many have pain. See previous sentence.
It’s a new world this morning. I went out, chopped wood, and carried it back in with no sense whatsoever of shortness of breath. What a relief! And now I’m off to walk the hill on the Ricki Ave. trail to see how that goes. It was my inability to climb that hill that has twice had me go to the doctor for help, and both times, my fears were confirmed as requiring aid. The first time, I was in hospital for 10 days due to it being an MI, and then there was yesterday.
I expect to breeze up it.