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Category Archives: Thoughts

My Bad Heart

Heart

Some nights, I just can’t sleep. I’ll lay awake late, staring at the insides of my eyes, waiting to drift away. I’ll have taken an Ambien. I’ll have had a cup of Kava tea. I’ll have taken a Melatonin. And I’ll have laid there, awake. eyes closed. Extra aware of everything around and inside me. Nights like these may have saved my life.

“Sometimes, it just beats funny. Feel that?” I asked The Patient Girlfriend one sleepless night before she became The Patient Wife. She felt it. “Does this happen a lot?” She asked. I shrugged. “It kind of always has.”

“Uh, you should get that looked at. Promise me you will.”
I promised.

I went to the doctor, who upon hearing me reference my heart murmur that I’ve had since I was young, smacked me on the back of my head and asked why I didn’t come in sooner. I really had no answer.

After 4 weeks of halter monitors (which don’t work on cell phones so you need to shuffle to the payphone at Kwik Trip at 2 AM when the alarm is going off), scary tests, CT scans, echocardiograms, and blood draws, it came back that I had several problems with my heart.

“You have a bicuspid aortic valvethat presents moderate regurgitation along with sinus arrhythmia and atrial fibrillation.” My eyes crossed. My imperfect heart pounded. I had no idea what that meant. Was it bad? Would it kill me? How long do I have?

Apparently, the valve in my aorta is supposed to have three little leaflets that fit together to keep blood from flowing back into my heart. My heart only has two, so the blood leaks back in and the valve is very weak. In addition, it skips beats and then makes up for it by beating extra. Then, sometimes, it’ll go INSANE and beat around 200-220 times in a minute. Then it quits and everything is normal.

One day, I’ll have surgery to get a new valve put in. They might go in through an artery in my groin, but they also might open my chest. I will be lying on a table, chest open like saloon doors, heart LITERALLY in someone else’s hands. It blows my mind. Sometimes, it’s too much to think about.

To be honest, I make an effort NOT to think about it. I watch my salt intake, I watch my diet, I exercise. I don’t grunt when I lift. Other than that, I don’t think about it. I don’t think about the lifetime of blood clot risks after my surgery. I don’t think about what would happen to my lovely Patient Wife if I died. I don’t think about it every time there’s a pain in my chest or a slight tingle in my left arm. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to move. It would be impossible to get out of bed and move because I would be FROZEN in fear.

Every day, I make a CHOICE to not be afraid. I make a CHOICE to ignore the fact that my valve could fail and I could die with little warning. I choose not to let the fear control me because if it did, I would be a shriveled nothing. If I let the fear in, I would do nothing that makes life worth living. I would simply waste away, which is an even worse fate.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if I can choke out this fear and choose to be where I am, so can you. Choose to be where you want to be. Choose to go and do in SPITE of your fear, and don’t let your fear choose for you. Because even if you’re afraid, it won’t change a damn thing.

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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in Thoughts

 

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On fear

I work with a man who has a light disability. Every week I see him and he is an absolute delight. He has a cognitive disorder, but he can recite Bible verses and still reads several versions of the bible. He is about as independent as one can be.

He and I often meet in his apartment, which is a small converted bedroom in the basement of a house near where The Patient Wife and I live. He has a simple lock on his doorknob, and that’s good enough for him. The man is completely unafraid of the giant world that could take advantage of him because, according to him, “it won’t change a thing.”

His landlord, however, is another story. The landlord owns the house and lives in the upstairs portion. I call him The Terrified Landlord because, well, the man is clearly a step beyond paranoid. He is TERRIFIED.

On the outside of his garage are two battery backup motion-sensing 150 watt floodlights linked to four different motion sensors placed around the front yard. If anybody enters the front yard or driveway, the lights turn on. If anybody blocks the perimeter sensors, then the ones built into the lights will activate.

Above the door, there is another flood light aimed at the front stoop along with a motion activated camera linked to a viewscreen inside. Beneath the viewer is a panic button which will ring a loud, bullhorn shaped alarm which is also outside, above the front door.

Inside, The Terrified Landlord keeps two VERY aggressive and trained German Shepherds. They maintain silence when I ring the doorbell and turn the knob, but as soon as I step inside they start jumping, barking, and clawing at the barrier. If I approach, they grow more hostile and will begin growling and frothing at the mouth, but they are silenced at a single command from The Terrified Landlord. They are kept behind a just-tall-enough barrier at the top of the stairs.

Upstairs, next to the television with a burned-in Fox News ticker on the screen, is the gun cabinet. On the bottom level are 6 different pistols. Above the pistols are 3 different rifles and 4 different shotguns. Ammunition is kept in separate drawers labeled by caliber. 30.06, 9mm, .40 Caliber, you get the idea.

On the bumper of his SUV, there are stickers proclaiming his hatred of non-English speakers in America, “The Socialist Agenda,” his support of restriction of voter’s rights, and his angry declarations of the desire to own assault weapons.

In his yard, there are gigantic posters supporting various fear-based political strategies, railing on those who receive government benefits, support of nuking certain middle-eastern countries, and obscure political candidates.

I’ve had a few chances to speak with The Terrified Landlord and subtly asked about the fortress defense he has. He’s surprisingly “normal” sounding, well spoken, and clean.

“I’m just protecting my home,” he says.

Upon inquiry, The Terrified Landlord says he has never been robbed, mugged, or burgled. He doesn’t hunt and rarely spends time outside of his city. He was not in the military, he’s never been in jail, and he doesn’t do drugs. In fact, he can’t even articulate what or whom he’s protecting his home FROM. He is simply AFRAID.

It must be draining to be that terrified all the time. I’ve been there with anger and fear and I tell you, hardening your heart and quaking in fear is EXHAUSTING. I imagine that it’s even more so when he has a constant reminder of his fear everywhere inside his home. There isn’t a single safe place anywhere in his part of the home.

Yes, I know there are scary things happening on the news. I know that political issues can be stressful. I even know that it can be intimidating to meet people who are new to this country. But try taking a deep breath and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Give your neighborhood a chance. Talk to someone who has a strong accent. Say “What’s that? I didn’t understand,” and realize that it really isn’t that scary. You just might be surprised.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Thoughts

 

HUGE thank you!

Holy moly, WordPress. You are too good to me I’m a relative newbie to WordPress. I started blogging as a self-righteous teen in 2001 on the “online diary site” Teenopendiary.com, which no longer exists. It was a poor excuse for attention but it had a light community, and I was hooked. I grew up a little bit, and I soon moved over to http://www.lightblog.com which had ZERO community. Then I quit writing.
A while ago, I fell in love with The Patient Girlfriend. She gently encouraged me and told me she loved my writing. After she became The Patient Wife, she continued to encourage me and hesitantly I started blogging again.

I switched to WordPress on a whim and I’ll never go to anything else. Thank you, new readers, for your extra kind words. All comments left were approved, and ALL of the comments were positive. Not ONE person took a hostile stance, and all of you encouraged me.
I hope my writing continues to inspire, and I hope you continue to let me know what you’re thinking.

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Thoughts