Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Don't Feel Well

Wow. What a relief it is to admit that. I don't feel 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, 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 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???

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