I’ve been blessed with good health. I wasn’t a sickly kid, and I’ve always had a better-than-average immune system. Despite years of alcohol abuse, I’ve had relatively few sick days, and no real health issues besides Cirrhosis, as diagnosed in 2015 – which is dormant, thankfully, as I approach eight years of sobriety.
You can imagine my shock and surprise when I found myself in the Emergency Room recently, writhing up and down on some sort of gurney while yelling “this is bullshit!” as various nurses and techs poked and prodded at me with IV’s, morphine and oxygen. I paused one moment to inquire about a Doctor’s marital status because he totally had an Edward Norton thing going on (boyish good looks combined with the quiet confidence of a grown-ass man) and I was momentarily smitten and forgot about the painful constrictions in my chest and shoulders. The Emergency Room erupted in laughter for a brief second, and he confirmed he was indeed, married – so I went back to my heart attack.
My HEART ATTACK. I had a fucking heart attack. A big one. I got not one, but two stents, being the drama queen I am. It was incredibly rude and shocking and unbelievable and almost one month later I’m still in somewhat of denial over the whole experience. I could’ve given impromptu birth and been less surprised, seriously. I’m incredibly lucky and grateful , don’t get me wrong, but it’s really shaken me up. The timing is somewhat comical as I’ve been experiencing what I can only call an existential crisis for the last six months, which ridiculously was spawned from binge watching the Netflix series “Midnight Mass”.
I’ve been wrestling with faith and regret and choices and passions and loneliness and none of it has been pleasant or fun, but more often than not you have to just accept life on life’s terms and keep going. That’s what I’ve done – right up to this heart attack and now I’m questioning everything I thought I knew…my nutrition, my genetics, this betrayal of my body, and everything else. I was told by the Doc that my heart attack was a “freak catastrophic occurrence” – nothing in my diet or activities needs to be altered or changed, going forward. Just “shitty luck” my Doc quipped as I glared at him from my hospital bed, arms strung with multicolored IV’s and crossed against my chest like a petulant child. The temerity!
I vacillate between abject anger and absolute terror, which is as much fun as it sounds. I’m either filled with rage or scared shitless. I have a therapist lined up for this week to help me with the PTSD portion of this nightmare – panic attacks and general feelings of depression and vulnerability. The last few weeks have been rough, I’ll be honest. I’m adjusting to a shit-ton of medication, and my sleep is off. I look like I’m in a terrible domestic violence situation, covered head to toe in bruises, thanks to the blood thinners. It reminds me of my drinking days when I’d awake and speculate where my random bruises came from, the night before. My sassy cat scratched me the other night and by the time I got it to stop bleeding, it looked like I’d showered with Norman Bates – blood on the light switches, toilet, medicine cabinet and tub. I have a fancy ass pill box now featuring an AM/PM option and a large fucking font, god help me.
I start cardiac rehab (again with the rehab lol) next week where I assume they’ll strap my bitter sober ass to a heart monitor and throw me on a treadmill and hope I don’t blow a tube. I’ll be writing more about that, I’m certain.
My Cardiologist (things you think you’ll never say) believes I’m going to be just fine and I gotta hand it to the guy, he’s optimistic and I appreciate the hope and humor he’s afforded me thus far. He doesn’t think my heart will quite get back to what it was, but offered “god gives us more than we need”, and he assures me I have plenty of heart left to live on.
I’ll take it.
The fitting title of this post is taken from a song by Hayes Carll, and cosmically he’ll be playing a free outdoor show here in my hometown, tomorrow evening. You can catch me there, nestled in my camping chair under the twinkly stars, feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.