Today is the day you all get to kick me. I’ve fielded all the questions of “why” and the only thing I can tell you (which will make sense later on) is that I wasn’t thinking of myself.
Monday did not turn out at all the way I wanted it to. I had a very specific plan: Take kids to school, visit the clinic and get a quick check-up because I felt “off”, call my boss and check in, go to the cafe and work until the library opened, finish up work at the library and maybe knit with the knitting meet-up that gathered in the afternoon, take the kids to open savings accounts after school, go home and make dinner.
It seems like a full day but really it wasn’t. The large part of the day was going to be spent working and that’s how I imagined it. What I didn’t imagine was being turned down at the clinic and sent instead to the emergency room and then not being allowed to leave the emergency room and then being flown to Anchorage for surgery. (Reason 1,860 why I don’t make plans – they never work out the way I want.)
But I feel like before I can go further, I need to back up even more –
Christmas was a relatively, relaxing day. We opened our gifts with skype-ins from my dearest Carlton (adopted son/best friend of Bug) and the Ladybug (girlfriend of Bug). We cleaned up, ate, and then it was movies and chill out time. I was playing a new game with Peanut, Bebe, and the hubs when I felt my heart race… it raced for about 15-25 seconds, very fast but very rhythmic, and then suddenly stopped but when it stopped it felt like it only stopped because someone punched me right in the chest. I didn’t get the wind knocked out of me but I felt the fist of something hit me… hard. When the game was over, I didn’t feel quite right and told the hubs that I was going to go lie down. I felt fine the next day.
Over the next month, I didn’t think too much about what happened at Christmas. I went on my way, doing my thing. My sleep schedule gradually got off to the point where I really didn’t want to get up in the morning. I am still a firm believer that I was dealing with some emotional hoo-ha at the time and sleeping was my safe space. Everything I felt, I contributed to a poor emotional state. On Sunday night I told my cousin how I’d been feeling among other things and received a tiny verbal lashing (I allowed two minutes for a proper chewing out, she didn’t use it all) but I promised to look into seeing a medical professional for how I had been feeling.
That night I also reached out and asked someone to help me out – maybe look me over and make sure there was nothing physically wrong with me. She suggested I go to the clinic in town but I was wary; I don’t like going to doctors or clinics. I talked to the hubs before bed and told him that I thought I needed a check up. He agreed and I made plans to stop at the clinic after taking the two middles to school.
At the emergency room I found what I had suspected but hadn’t said out loud to anyone but the people in my house and two others; the pacemaker battery had died. Kicked the bucket. What I felt on Christmas was probably its last hurrah as it went out with a jolt to my heart (it’s funny but at the same time it isn’t). What happened after that was a combination of my crappy emotions and a very slow heart rate (in the 40s so you know). I felt fine with the exception of lack of appetite and so.much.sleep.
My very planned Monday got turned upside down.
Bug picked up all the kids from school and hubs got someone to bring him to the emergency room with a couple of things for me and some things for him. The hospital wouldn’t let him take me to Anchorage but insisted I couldn’t travel alone (how do they think I got to the hospital in the first place) so we flew to Anchorage where we took a taxi to the hospital. I was checked in Monday night (everything and everyone was already waiting for me like a party but less fun) and hooked up to all my favorite wires and electrodes.
I joked that I already had a “go bag” like the ones you see on CIA and FBI television shows (I may have binged on Covert Affairs through Christmas break) because my laptop and yarn was already with me. I ate until they cut me off at Midnight and slept until 3:30 a.m. and began calling family on EST time on Tuesday morning. I worked until they did my echocardiogram (seriously, what else was I supposed to do?) and then waited until they took me down for surgery at noon. The nurses (all male, all geeks, all Chuck Norris fans) told me bad Chuck Norris jokes and talked about Cedar Point and smartphone apps until the drugs took hold and I was out cold. By 4 p.m. I was back in my room and working very hard not to curse at people (anesthesia and I are not BFFs) and cursing the NPO rule after midnight once again.
Before surgery there was talk of need for a defibrillator because of my AFL, which likes to show up now and again despite the ablation 10 years ago (and getting older). I was not on board for that plan and prayed silently that the echo would show no need for additional implanted hardware. Thankfully I have very good looking ventricles and the defibrillator idea was scrapped. Instead I received a battery with a bit more juice; enough to last past my usual 10 year mark and into 14-16 years (eat your heart out Energizer Bunny), and it also paces the bottom chambers of the heart to assist with the AFL. It’s also 12 percent bigger than the last one (MORE POWER). I’m now at a comfortable 60 bpm (they couldn’t up me to 65 without that dreaded defibrillator talk) and I’m happy with 60 mostly because it’s better than 44.
So if we’re all paying attention: I have a pacemaker because not only do I have a slow arrhythmia, but I also have a little AFL going on and it’s irregular. (Good Times.)
Wednesday they sprung me from the hospital after realizing (no one in Alaska communicates very well) that I wasn’t a new battery placement (this was not my first rodeo) and so a pacer interrogation (to make sure the leads were where they should be) or an X-ray (more lead checking) wasn’t necessary. NPO was lifted, breakfast was had and by 4 p.m. I was home again after a flight back to town and picking up my prescription for pain.
But that’s not the best part; my pacer checks can now be done with a device and an app for my smartphone. (I know what you’re thinking, I was thinking the same thing… Now when people ask how I check my pacemaker, I can tell them… “THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT!“) This doctor may not know me very well but he at least knows that I’m attached to my phone.
Hubs has said life with me is interesting; not an adventure – but interesting. I tend to do the things people tell me not to and push myself beyond what I probably should. Just like the vehicles I’ve owned.
I don’t think of myself or the maintenance that they need. I’m too focused on the getting and the doing and the things that make my world go round. Unfortunately that sometimes leads to breaking things in new and interesting ways. There have been many times when I’ve driven my vehicle beyond a point that should be allowable by law. My dad never understands how it’s possible for the thing to even run (in that condition) or how it’s even on the road (with that broken ______ <– fill in the blank). I think he enjoys pulling something from my van that makes a good “conversation piece”; something he can show his buddies or my brothers when they stop by. I hope he’s saved all of those pieces because when we left the hospital, I brought home something to add to the collection: the dead pacer battery.
It’s probably the first time I’ve ever gotten to keep one and I can’t wait to show him my own conversation piece some day.