Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

As some dear readers know by now, I suffer from a rare neurological deafness, SSNHL. When this occurred on 2/17/11, the drs gave me steroids, the only known medication that could restore my hearing. It didn't do shit for restoring my hearing. Instead, the steroids nearly killed me.

Flash forward one year, eight months later.

Those steroids did one helluva job. They gave me GERD, gastro-esophagal reflux disease. So severe I need to take meds. So severe, every three months I end up in ER or in the cardiologist's office believing I have a heart attack, the pain's so crippling.

Let me clarify: I've a high tolerance for pain. I shattered my right ankle and walked on it for blocks until I reached my doctor's office.

"OMG!" she cried out. "You've a broken ankle."

"I know," I said.

"I can't help you out. I'm a gynecologist."

"Well, while I'm here..."

Talk about a fiasco. Let's say I had major surgery with a giant metal plate & 6 snap-action illegal bolts attached to my right tibia by some lunatic surgeon who fucked the operation up. I never took a pain killer. Oh, I felt pain, all right. Yet, I'm a strong lady who really doesn't believe in pain killers. To date, have no idea where I got that concept. It's embedded in me, something I truly wish wasn't, yet must be the sole reason why I'm NOT a substance abuser today. Goes to show, there's a silver lining from neurosis.

When my mother was alive, she sneered at me, "What are you, a Christian scientist? Either take the meds or stop complaining."

I didn't do either.

Three operations later over a three year period where my ankle was broken repeatedly and the illegal snap action bolts were removed along with the plate, I didn't take pain killers. For three years I was in one helluva foul mood.

Here's my take about pain: should I complain about it and actually DO something, that means it's MASSIVE. It's something that shouldn't be discounted.

Which is why I persist in believing I've a heart problem. It makes my cardiologist laugh. "If you had a cardiac condition, you'd be long dead by now." He refers to my mountain biking as well as the results of the stress test which shows I've a strong heart.

Yet, I'm not convinced. Because I know something's wrong. I CAN FEEL IT. Sometimes, the only sound I hear in my ears is my own heart beat. And a few times, while attempting to sleep, I heard my heart stop. That's when I thought, "Hmmm, am I dead?" until it started up again. I told my cardiologist who acted polite while dismissive.

During the last ER visit, my pulse fell down to 40 and all the bells went off. After a while, I yelled at the staff, "How long would it take for you to enter here after I flat line?"

"There's no such thing as 'normal' when it comes to pulse," they reassured me. They pointed out other causes for an abnormally low pulse: it was late at night, I was tired, I'm an athlete.

The last annoyed me the most. I asked, "Is this the body of an athlete?"

Once again, I told my cardiologist about the low pulse. It didn't bother him. The two-second EKG came out perfect. Which reminds me of dealing with my mechanic, the classic story. The car makes a noise like a squirrel's stuck in the transmission. The second I park at the garage, the sound disappears until the moment I return to my home.

Kinda like my heart.

Now, I like my cardiologist. He's earnest. He's young, in his mid-thirties. Yet, I'm 57, kinda unfuckable because of my age and therefore invisible. My complaints are simply complaints to him. I see myself in his eyes: a pretty, neurotic middle-aged woman with lots of tattoos, gnarly long hair and heavy Queens accent whose speech is slightly off because she's almost deaf. And let's not neglect the starving artist bit.

Without evidence, he will never believe me when I tell him about my low pulse and erratic heartbeats.

Until today.

For the past year and eight months my gastrointestinal guy wanted to conduct an upper GI test to determine the extent of damage from GERD. We did as much as we could through sonograms, but when push came to shove, he had to withhold medication to induce me to take the test.

I had it done seven years before because of a chronic cough. It turns out the cough was a nervous tic, something I did when working in a trading room full of morons. I hated those motherfuckers, you've no idea. Half the women fucked their way up. Given the fact that that place was gay friendly, there was a lot of man on man/woman on woman action in getting promotions. Really.

I didn't care except nobody behaved with discretion. It was nasty. Toss in the overt nepotism, and you got yourself one of the poorest excuses of a professional financial institution. Man, I really hated that place and those motherfuckers. As a result, I developed a cough, a psychological way in which I bit back my words. Even so, everyone complained I was mean. If they only know how I felt!

The dr who performed the upper GI test in NYC was not concerned with how I got to his office or left. Hell, after the test, my throat was inflamed. It was on fire! I couldn't tell whether he burnt my entire esophagus with my bile or he rammed the pipe down with all his strength. All I know is it took three weeks to heal.

Hence, my hesitation in having that test performed again.

Until last week. Without meds, I broke down and made the appointment. My major problem is I live over 50 miles away and the ambulatory surgery place insisted that someone pick me up and take me home. It couldn't be a car service because too many people were ripped off while loopy from anesthesia. The final time I took car service up here, I wasn't under anesthesia and they still managed to pick pocket my iPhone!

Well, I was fucked. Everyone I knew worked. And I live far away! So I lied. I had the procedure done before, albeit incorrectly, and knew it'd only take half an hour to get a clear enough head to drive. However, the ladies at reception demanded a phone number to call the guy I purportedly claimed would pick me up. They got me there. I guess they were sued one too many times. I left in a snit fit.

Upset, I confided in my girlfriend, Jane. She kindly offered to take me there on her day off. She had business errands to conduct nearby anyway. I rescheduled and this time, they contacted her. The sad part is they didn't believe Jane existed and thought I screwed around with them again!

Right before my appointment today, Jane took me to Sam's Club, one mile from the ambulatory surgery building. I was never before in Sam's Club and my jaw dropped. To my chagrin, I discovered a latent addiction to office supplies. Who knew?

While running amok in that area, I received a phone call from the surgery center. "Someone just canceled. Can you come over soon?"

"I'm in Sam's Club," I bragged. I looked over at Jane. "How much longer do you think this'll take?"

"We should get out of here in fifteen minutes. Any longer, we'll go broke."

I returned to the phone. "How about twenty minutes?"

Fifty dollars sunk into paper products, we're en route to the surgery center. Jane parked right in front and we marched into the reception area. I pointed at her and told the same people from the prior week who refused to allow me to have the procedure performed without a designated driver, "Look! She's real!"

After I signed the papers, tweeted my good-byes and preference for a Viking Funeral, I gave Jane the password to my computer so she can take possession of all my manuscripts. Then, they came out to get me.

Once I was hooked up to the heart monitor, things got trippy. My pulse hovered at 40. It gave them all pause. My gastrointestinal guy came out. "Do you have a cardiologist?"

"Of course."

"Has he given you any tests?"

"Stress test and they told me I'm an athlete."

Dubious, my doctor stared at the machine along with this staff and anesthesiologist. "This is not normal. It's way too low."

I gave him all the reasons why it should be low, parroting my cardiologist.

He shook his head. "Do you feel dizzy and faint-like?"

"All the time," I said.

"Have you told your cardiologist about this?"

"For over a year."

He shook his head again. "I'm sending him this report after the procedure so he can see what you're talking about."

"Is there cause for concern?"

"You should really get tested. We're going to have to monitor you closely, that's all."

It took them a few tries afterwards to awaken me from the anesthesia. My pulse remained very low. The gastrointestinal guy informed me, "Not so bad. You're red in patches. No cancer. You got blah blah blah," I didn't catch the words, "but it's not so bad. We took some biopsies and you can call me next week. Meanwhile, you better contact your cardiologist."

The staff told Jane to get ready with the car while I struggled into my clothes. Inside the car, I sat hunched over in a slump the entire journey back. At my doorstep, I grabbed my coveted office supplies and entered my frozen house.

After I ate my way through two missed meals and two snacks, I phoned the cardiologist. Next week, they're wiring me up in a halter for 24 hours to determine what's going on with my heart. By then, I'll get the results from the biopsies.

And so it goes. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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This blog and all its posts are a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

1 comment:

Stacey Roberts said...

I know I speak for all your fans when I tell you how glad I am we don't have to come to your Viking funeral any time soon. With a pain resistance like yours, what did your high school counselor think you were going to pick as a career? Torture victim? Take the meds, and feel better soon.