Saturday, February 4, 2023


I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday. Fred and Ethel took over the couch for the entire day, leaving only for lunch. And Her Highness lay underneath my legs, as my feet rested on the pillow on the coffee table, close beside the fire. The sun disappeared as the wind picked up, bringing the clouds expected to bring days and days of rain. It was a perfect day for reading.

I didn’t post, I didn’t go into the village to fetch my prescriptions, I just read and napped. Things still aren’t correct. However, regardless of some loss, I’m. far better than I was for those two weeks. 

When I got the pacemaker, I thought: Well, that’s the end of my heart problems. I thought the pacemaker was a medical panacea. Now it seems to me that now two things can go wrong: My heart and the pacemaker. Now two things must work perpetually.

I felt down all day yesterday. I felt mortal. It’s become part of being me. I have a list of questions for my next meeting with the technician. One of them is to ask her what caused the problem, my heart, or the pacemaker. 

When I got into her office last Wednesday, all my built-up anxiety had me burst with a description of my shortness of breath. I was full of anxiety. And then I was zooming with relief when I heard her say, “I think I see something.” And then there was a long period of her working with the computer to make changes to the programming of my pacemaker. Then I took the walk and climbed the stairs. And then came a barrage of medical jargon, rapidly and sincerely.

I absorbed and understood the clear and simple explanation of pacemaker assistance went from 9% of my heartbeats, to 100%. And she repeatedly referred to my having had a second block. They don’t feel any different to me, a heart attack, and a block other than, in my experience, the blocks are very, very mild compared to an MI.

I’ve lost confidence in my heart/pacemaker partnership. I feel twice as vulnerable to cardiac disfunction than I was before getting my pacemaker. Death feels much closer. I’m not afraid of what will be—except, of pain. I’ve had a game-changer experience.

The last thing I asked the pacemaker technician was what a block was, but we got sidetracked and I didn’t get an answer. Yesterday morning, I got an email from her.

A third-degree, or complete, heart block is where there is no transmission of electrical pulses between the AV node and the ventricles. There are two sub-types of third degree heart block: Congenital - where the condition is present at birth, and acquired, where the condition develops as a result of heart damage. (This is what [I] have.)

A third-degree heart block can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. This type of heart block is usually regarded as a medical emergency and may require immediate treatment with a pacemaker. Acquired third degree heart block is a common complication of heart disease, particularly in older people. It is estimated that 5-10% of people who are over 70 years of age, and have a history of heart disease, will develop a third-degree heart block.

The most serious types of heart block respond very well to treatment with a pacemaker, and deaths that are caused by these conditions are very rare.

She told me to read the last sentence twice. 

I got her email after returning from my walk up the Ricki Ave. hill. I feel much, much better but not as good as my pre-block condition. But I walk at a quicker pace, and I can breathe through my nose. When I was short of breath, I had heaving mouth breathing.

My relief and joy uplifted me, as did the sunny skies during our walk.

I went through my script again. I even did a good bit of it aloud, so it has come along quite a bit further. I will go through it twice aloud next. And I imagine that it might change more after the festival people read this version. Their feedback is welcome.

Now comes a period of intense work. I am going to start memorizing it. And I’ll do it at least twice a week until it’s produced to keep it alive in my memory.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, when we arrived at our new family home (I was four years old), we drove up a steep driveway and leveled off at the top where was revealed—a theatre. In fact, it was a garage, but I saw immediately how the doors could work for scene changes.

What I love about this festival and monologue is, it bookends my childhood plays. Theatre was the passion of my life. I’m feeling good about doing this in the festival. 

There are what I call ‘breaks’ in the monologue. For me, it’s not really a monologue because I vary the rhyme and rhythm. I make shifts, so the monologue becomes a series of units, or bits, strung together. I skipped units in some performances when I did a show called Knock Knock. So, I might make a unit list and leave it on the desk (I want as a set piece).

A significant challenge is before me. Here goes. Saying it aloud begins today.

This morning I felt like my old self. It feels very, very good.

When I went out to chop wood on a damp and overcast morning, I was thrilled to feel how warm it was (9°). I’m glad the cold is gone again. I chopped wood and brought it into the house feeling completely normal and very, very happy about that.

I plan to just read and relax, and to go through my monologue out loud at least once today. 

No comments: