Frankenheart: Which Makes it Sound Like I Ate too Many Hotdogs

I don’t relish having to come here and make the following post, in part because I don’t like acknowledging—much less discussing—my physical issues. I don’t suppose this makes for the most compelling of blog posts, either. But if I’m honest, the real reason for my reticence is that I don’t want to think about all the things that could potentially go wrong as a result of Friday.

Friday. That is to say, tomorrow.

I have an atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmic disorder of the heart. It’s fairly common in people over 50, especially as they creep closer to 70 or 80. What isn’t common is seeing it in someone my age. According to one abstract, greater than 70% of the individuals with AF are over 65. I believe my cardiologist said less than half of %1 of those with AF are in their 30s or younger.

Luck of the Irish, my ass. (Though they say excessive alcohol consumption can potentially bring it about in some cases, so maybe the Irish thing really does have something to do with it.)

What this boils down to is that my heart needs to get back into normal rhythm quickly, because I’m in constant AF, which puts me at risk for blood clots and stroke, and can really strain the heart as time goes on, wearing it out from overwork when it races. I’ve had the arrhythmia for as long as I can remember, but doctors told me not to worry about it (and believe me, I’m tempted to make a snarky remark on that front, only I’m not sure where the arrhythmia ends and the AF begins). I only began experiencing negative symptoms a relatively short time ago, which include a racing heart, dizziness, and passing out. One such episode happened while I was on campus, and I ended up at the campus nurse, who told me I’d better get to an ER and have myself checked out because of my erratic pulse.

Long story short, I’m scheduled to have a cardioversion procedure tomorrow, meaning that they’ll shave my chest, stick conductive pads on me, and turn on the juice. Not quite a Frakensteinian affair, but I’m still probably going get some prop bolts for my head and ask them to take a picture when they flip the switch, maybe waddle around the recovery ward groaning incoherently for a bit afterward.

Though I may not be up for that. They’ll be knocking me out prior to the main event, which is best for obvious reasons, but that also means I won’t get to watch my body jump like an angry fish, so that’s a little disappointing. Can’t have everything, I guess.

They say this is a low-risk procedure, and there’s nothing to worry about. Those minimal risks are supposedly greatly outweighed by the potential rewards (despite the fact that there’s a fairly good chance this won’t actually help me at all—when you’ve been in constant AF this long, sometimes the stuff just doesn’t take). Anyone you talk to about the procedure says it’s a no-brainer, and given that nothing else I’ve researched and tried since the diagnosis has helped in any way, I’m inclined to agree.

In any case, it’s not likely that anything will go wrong, and they’ve assured me of this over and over again. Which was great until they made me sign several dozen forms confirming that my doctor explained a bunch of things he never actually explained to me, and that they won’t be held liable if the procedure makes things worse, makes things a lot worse, or kills me.

And I mean, I get it—legal stuff and all that. But really, could you find a better way to freak somebody out before getting zapped? They spend all this time telling you that everything will be fine, and then two days before you come in, they make you promise not to be mad if they sort of accidentally wreck you a bit. Oh, and if they do, just remember that you’ll be liable for all the resulting fees from your further treatment and hospital stay. But hey, it’s all good! If it doesn’t help heal you, there are other things to try, like catheter ablation, actual surgery, pacemakers, and crippling personal debt!

Okay, I know, that’s not the kind of stuff I should be thinking about. Nothing’s guaranteed, the system is what it is, and there’s no good in life that doesn’t come without some risk. I’m feeling positive overall, have a wonderful girlfriend to support and take care of me, and even though my family and friends are all thousands of miles away, I know I have their prayers and encouragement. Plus, of course, the endless love of these two weirdos:

Snowdogs

Pretty sure I’ll be fine. Sarcastic comments aside, I’m grateful for my good fortune, for all the blessings I’ve been given. Even if a power surge makes my heart jump out of my chest like that scene from Alien, or there’s a tornado that brings the hospital down around my head, or I get hit by a bus walking back to the car, I’ll remain thankful for all these blessings I’ve enjoyed, and consider myself to have been a truly lucky man.

All right, enough sap. If my to-do list, school schedule, and submission list are any indication, I have a lot to do whether my heart wants to be accommodating or not.

Until next time, stay tuned for updates on whether or not I’m dead, further news on the novella if I have it, and hopefully a garden’s worth of fresh, ripe, black-syruped short fiction for your reading pleasure.

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