A good friend provided a much needed distraction tonight. Sure, you might think that distraction was the dinner we ate or the concert we listened to or the conversation we had or the best firework show I've ever seen live...but you'd be wrong.
The best part of the night was the flashback playlist that he shared on his iPhone. My personal favorite:
I've been using an oil based eye make-up remover for years...to remove eye make-up of course.
But this week I've found a brilliant second use for the good stuff...medical tape residue remover!!!!
It came to my attention when, after 10 days of removing the goo left on my skin from EKG leads and medical tape with an apricot face scrub (hey! maybe i'm not so new to this dual usage stuff!?!?), my skin had begun to scream at me. I had developed these nasty scabs and rashes (TMI?) where the leads attached, and couldn't bring myself to continuing to use the same technique. The make-up remover was sitting on my bathroom counter and I dabbed a little on some of the sticky and, voila! magic!
Hopefully you never have to put this to the test and can just take my word for it...cause I really don't wish this kind of torture on anyone.
p.s. only 1 more day with the monitor!!!!
p.s.s. that darned battery that was never going to need replacing? yeah, i just replaced it for the 3rd time...but this time the spare was in my car and not an hour a way!
My very first sister (in-law) is a gorgeous, feminine woman who is a fantastic example of everything ladylike. And while whipping up magic in the kitchen, has been a fabulous mother to three darling boys...sporting sassy platform shoes the entire time!
Today we found out that her 4th is a GIRL!
I know that gender isn't supposed to matter but I am so excited for the next addition to the Denney clan. I can't wait to see this little princess grow up to be the spitting image of her mother and the pride of her father!
Ever since I started taking a blood thinner twice a day, I've been paranoid about papercuts and running into doorways. I never thought that an IV would have been the first evidence of the effects of the drug.
One thing I've always been good at is medical tests. I know where EKG leads go, I know where my best veins are, I can hold still as long as needed, I don't panic, I'm patient, I have just enough personality to endear the techs to me...but I never get annoying or naggy.
But so far today, my lemon of a heart is betraying me at every turn. We really struggles getting an IV in, my heart rate was too bonkers for the treadmill and we had to default to drug induced stress, and a 15 minute imaging session just took me 45 minutes.
I'm only halfway through and hopeful that this poor behavior will end soon.
This past week has piqued my imagination from a deep sleep.
The Scene (In My Head):
Mount Olympus, The Greek gods are tired and bored and tossing out ideas to keep them entertained. They arrive at the consensus that they would find one of Earth's most content mortals and see what kind of drama they can stir up.
Flash to Earth, I am found lounging by the pool communicating with friends new and old, talking of all of the books and plays and movies and conversations and adventures filling my every day. I have a beautiful tan, an infectious smile, and there is no line of stress to be found on my youthful face. I am grateful and happy and calm. I declare that I have found an inner peace that nothing can disrupt.
Mount Olympus, The gods explode in laughter at the sound of my declaration. Goddess Hygeia sends down a disease, then one by one, they up the ante. Tossing ridiculous complications at the already morbid situation, growing more hysterical and absurd with each one!
The Scene (In Reality):
Well, you've read the day by day. This past week has been a wicked divorce from the Utopia I had built. Exhausted and beaten last night, I crawl into Sassy's guest bed in Utah County...an hour from my home. At 1:30 a.m. the heart monitor and transmitter both beep at me. During initial set-up, the nurse assured me that while she included replacement batteries in my supply kit, I wouldn't be needing them...but the electronics disagreed. I had taken the nurses word as law and had not bothered to pack a battery with me...so, I assured myself that it was probably similar to my iPhone which notifies me when I'm at 20% (still plenty of power), and I roll over and fall back asleep. 90 minutes later, they squawk again for attention.
I stumble out of bed and search for Sassy's television remote control. Assuming that all AA batteries are created equal I swap them and head back to bed...only to find the notifications have quickened the pace...to 10 second intervals. I quickly dress and stumble out to my car just before 4:00 to make my way to the nearby grocery store. Disheveled and heralding my arrival with an angry machine attached to my body I beeline it for the battery isle. Turns out a 3.6 volt AA battery is not a mainstream luxury. I convince myself that the lithium battery will be an upgrade from the alkaline I stole from the remote and march to the check-out...where I find a very concerned checker anxious to usher me through.
The exchange makes no impact and I determine that Wal-Mart will be the source of my only life's wish...a 3.6 volt AA lithium battery. Wal-Mart is an epic fail and I find myself standing in the parking lot at 4:00 a.m. silently screaming inwardly as there is no reason to compete with the siren attached to my chest.
I am certain that my rapidly increasing heart-rate is only sucking the remaining juice of the battery more quickly and I do the only "rational" thing I can think of. I climb in my car and begin the 60 minute drive home. Was I worried about falling asleep at the wheel? HA! Not at all! The dead couldn't sleep through my medical alarm!
At this point, I am convinced that the next jab from a bored god is only minutes away and that I am destined to receive a traffic ticket. But either the gods were sleeping, or my cruise control was too powerful to be defeated...because I made it home, slipped inside, swapped the battery and then drank in the silence.
The story might have ended there as I climbed into the bed I was sitting on...but that wouldn't be interesting at all! See, I had stayed in Utah County so that I could drive Sassy and her mom to the airport this morning. Also, when I set off hours ago to fetch a battery, I never imagined that it would land me back in my beautiful bed...so I'd left my belongings, including the monitor charger, at Sassy's home. Then again, I did the only "rational" thing I can think of...crack a diet coke and get back in my car for an hour long return trip.
In Conclusion (In My Head...or Reality...You Make the Call):
My imagination is being overactive...and I have begun being overly dramatic. There is no sinister team of minions working against me, it just feels that way in the middle of the night. The batteries got replaced, I didn't wreck in a bad scene of drowsy driving, no state trooper clocked me speeding in a construction zone. The only consequence of the evening is being made known as the pitting edema (often exacerbated by lack of sleep) grows rapidly...putting a damper on my weekend wardrobe for sure!
It's been stinking of government programs for days. Today, it stank bad!
As part of my "severance" from my last employer, I was offered health insurance benefits through May with the option of COBRA to follow. I received the forms, signed my name and sent them back, along with payment, to the address indicated on every single page of the document.
I have had no claims or doctor visits and had no reason to doubt that things weren't moving along as promised. However, the return address was incorrect and the paperwork was never received. Additionally, the employer switched providers and never included me on the enrollments. Technically, I am uninsured.
Given the nature of my diagnosis, and the astronomical of the tests I've already taken and have scheduled, this is bad news. Even worse news, I have wicked pre-existing condition status. If there is one thing in my life that I am ever diligent about, it is my health insurance. It's not a joke to me and I know that the financial and physical consequences are bigger than anything I can conquer.
I've had to cancel the urgent tests and put my faith in an insurance broker that this will be resolved before the symptoms of my condition knock me flat. Although my former employer and the insurance broker assure me that in time (possibly another week) they will be able to sort it out, I am agitated and frustrated and feeling very much the victim today.
So, I have to look to myself and ask how I might have had a hand in arriving here. I am the one who asked for a greater measure of faith. This situation is clearly beyond my own control and, as reported by my contacts, it may be beyond their control as well. So the only action left for me to take is to exercise my faith. To humbly kneel and pray that it will be okay, in plenty of time, and that I won't continue to feel panicky or sorry for myself.
Today was mostly sad. No particular reason other than I'm just exhausted by optimism. I slumped around my routine today barely making a noticeable effort. I was pretty convinced that I was creeping toward the "dark side". And then, subconsciously I dialed up the band Oasis on Grooveshark.
I know this might seem insignificant, but Oasis was my life's theme music once. I had just finished up my time at BYU and spending a few months tying things up in Utah Valley before making the move to Denver. I had no concrete plan for my life...but I was hopeful...I was dreamfilled.
I hope my sub-conscious is trying to remind me that even though I've never really been good at dreaming big, I'm still allowed to.
Yesterday's post was prematurely optimistic. I reported that I was improving....
The good news is, I'm maintaining a positive attitude? I wanted so badly to be better that I was convinced that I was...
The bad news is, the 24 hour feed from my heart to my doctor says otherwise.
The doc called this afternoon to ask how I was feeling. He's not seeing an improvement and has proposed a more aggressive approach...doubling the Diltiazem, then adding a blood thinner. The blood thinner is prep work for a procedure called Cardioversion. I won't lie, I hate this news.
I've felt awful for ages, I know how to deal with the physical fatigue. I'm not so confident about my attitude and I'm very wary about emotional fatigue.
I watched the movie 17 Miracles with a friend this afternoon and left desiring to get over myself and my problems, pull it all together, and get a little faith. The call from the doctor only came an hour later...and I confess, I lost my resolve.
The past few months I had become so skilled at ignoring and/or explaining away all of the symptoms...now the palpitations seem quicker, the pain feels more intense, my breath seems more difficult to catch, I'm more nauseous and more sleepy. I don't really think things have escalated, they're just more difficult to escape.
It is just about 24 hours since I began taking the meds. I don't want to take them, but I can't deny that I can already tell the difference. 2 days ago my heart was beating at a violent pace with no discernible pattern. Today my heartbeat is still irregular, but it is not nearly as frantic as it was just 2 days ago.
That's a really good thing...
...except that it came from a pill. I'm having a hard time digesting the idea of having to take a regimen of meds everyday. I know it's early. I know that the docs can't determine anything unless I'm being a good patient and following protocol. I know that faith can heal a lot of things...
Wow. What a relief it is to admit that. I don't feel well...at all. I feel like garbage. I've felt like garbage for months.
Only wimps are sick. Only wimps call doctors. Only wimps are too tired to do what a normal person can do in a day.
I've spent the past few months feeling physically lousy and beating myself up for it. I should sleep different hours...I should eat differently...I should treat myself for allergies...I should be tougher...I should exercise more...I should exercise better...I should, I should, I should. But I couldn't and didn't and wouldn't.
See, I was diagnosed with a heart disease when I was 13 years old. And I spent years in doctor's offices trying to understand why I didn't feel as well as my friends and family. And in the end, there was nothing that ever came from it beyond worry and excuses. So, over the years, I have learned to ignore the aches and pains and odd things that happen to my body because somewhere I picked up the notion that I wasn't worth the investigation. That I was broken. That there was nothing to be determined. That I needed to learn how to be tougher.
When historic symptoms began to flare 3 weeks ago, I began my usual regimen to address the discomfort. But my body didn't respond. So I upped the effort, the meds, the sacrifices, the discipline. But my body didn't respond. I spent the 4th of July with friends at a BBQ and fireworks and through conversation with a nurse friend, recognized that perhaps my symptoms had advanced to an impressive level. I agreed that I would follow-up with a visit to my doctor that week. The next morning, I was informed that my physician would be out of town until this next week...so, I hung up the phone and added another tactic to my regimen. By Thursday, I was really dragging and when Salty got home from a day of work at the clinic (she's a P.A.), I asked her to take a listen to my heart. She seemed surprised by what she heard, and I shrugged it off with a downplay comment about how loud my murmur was. She informed me that the murmur was there, but not alone. Having spent years listening to the sound of my heart, I took a turn...and heard something I've never heard before. I agreed to push for an appointment with my cardiologist the next day.
After a few early morning phone calls to the doc's office, I finally secured myself a 1:00 p.m. appointment. By the time 1:00 rolled around, I was feeling sheepish about pushing my way in, certain that I was overreacting and that it was just going to be more of the same with no solution. I apologized to the M.A. as she came to take my vitals. But after she recorded a severe increase to my resting blood pressure and heart rate, she rolled in the EKG, confident that the doc would absolutely want to run the test.
The doc came in and asked about my symptoms (severe pitting edema, fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, cold sweats, dizziness, chest pain, hoarse voice, did i mention pitting edema? what about fatigue?) and then I apologized again and said that if it was just same old, same old that I would be happy to leave...
...but it's not same old, same old. It's new and more serious than I want it to be. Atrial fibrillation is something that old people have. In fact, deciding on my treatment will be tricky because what you might be willing to do for the rest of an 80 year old's life, you don't want to do to a 36 year old for life.
I'm attached to a holter monitor for 2 weeks, I have 4 hours of tests scheduled next Wednesday, I'm waiting for a report on a full blood chem and urinalysis, I'll be scheduling a 24 hour pulse oximetry test this week, and I'm on a regimen of new drugs. I haven't taken regular prescriptions for over 10 years...in fact, as I stood in the kitchen this morning battling with the decision to start taking them, I was only convinced when Salty told me that the side effects of a stroke are worse than the side effects of the pills (man am I a sucker for a death threat!)
So now, it's a lot of waiting. And I pray for some awesome distractions to get me out of my head. Dough Boy and a neighbor gave me a Priesthood Blessing last night and I do feel an amazing sense of comfort...but it hasn't completely stopped the unexpected outbursts of tears, or worry, that creep into my mind.
Physically, I'm not well...I really don't feel good. My first emotional reaction is relief at permission to not feel well...and then every imaginable emotion races in for attention. If you read these posts with any regularity, you can expect the next weeks to be all over the place...a mixture of vulnerability and denial. It should be exciting, no???
Tonight was nutty. I drove 30 miles from Dough Boy's home to mine...and can't remember a minute of the drive. It happens sometimes when I have a lot on my mind. And usually posts happen daily with stuff on my mind. I can verify that I've started a post every single day...but have felt too tired or insecure to publish them all. I promise that tomorrow I'll fill in the blanks of the past week and give a little insight to where my mind has been.