Can We Laugh About This?
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
As an avid TV and movie watcher, I often think of how I would apply my experiences with CHD to the cinematic arts. Instead of a two-hour film filled with tears, laughter, heartache and triumph, I’m leaning towards TV sitcom. While an hour-long drama seems more appropriate given the subject matter, my experiences usually lean toward the comedic side.
After getting a mechanical aortic valve and then a pacemaker in elementary school, I had a nine-year break from surgery. Initially, I was always afraid of getting sick and going back in the hospital. Every skipped beat and every beat that was too fast or too slow was magnified by my valve; I believed each one meant impending doom. But I was always told that I was fine. So eventually I accepted that I would have the occasional irregular beat and I was able to spend middle school and high school focused on important things like being popular and not getting fat.
When I awoke that fateful March day sophomore year of college to a heart rate that didn’t seem to increase when I was mobile, I didn’t think too much about it at first. I was late to class and while jogging up that hill to the quad, it was difficult to breathe and I felt like I had a weight on my chest. But when I sat down in my seat and took my two midterms that day, I felt fine.
I didn’t have time to think about my heart. I had to finish class, go back to my dorm and pack, because I was going to Cancun the next day for spring break! But I called my mom anyway just to let her know what was going on. She suggested I go to the ER. So I did. But first I got a manicure, pedicure and a bikini wax. Clearly, I had my priorities in order.
And yes, it was devastating to hear that my pacemaker was dead and working on reserve battery power and I would not being spending spring break in Cancun, but in a hospital. But now that a few years have passed, I think it’s pretty funny that I took two midterms (I got a 104 on one of them) and got all pampered for my trip with a dead pacemaker.
Several months later, I was just sitting in my apartment when I realized my heart rate was in the 140s. When nothing had changed fifteen minutes later, I had my roommate drop me off at the ER. She was so confused. She asked, “Do you want me to wait with you?” I told her, “No, it’s cool. This happens all the time.”
After a pacer check and some blood work, the cardiologist told me I had atrial fibrillation. A-fib being another condition that I had no idea was a possibility for me, I wanted to know why. He wasn’t my regular cardiologist and he only saw patients with acquired heart disease, so he said, “The main causes of a-fib are alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, diet pills and asthma medication.”
Without missing a beat, I replied, “Well, I’m on all of those.”
He didn’t even crack a smile. Come on!
Only focusing on all of the negative things in our lives can really get us down, so I try to find the funny, the unusual, and the ridiculous. When I tell those stories about getting a new pacemaker or finding out I had a-fib, it’s not just one more bad thing that happened to me. It’s “guess what I did before I went to the ER?” and “guess what I said to the cardiologist?” Because we should be able to laugh about our whole CHD situation as much as possible.
Add yours below.
The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.
The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.