Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm Getting Older, Too

My sister has scheduled a cardiologist's appointment for our mother a hundred and fifty miles away from me, on day when I was supposed to teach two library classes. As it now stands, I'm doing the early class and leaving immediately to pick Mom up for the appointment. I'll be driving for three hours, pretty much straight through.

Over the last year and a half, I've neglected my own health. My LapBand fill was evacuated a little over a year ago because I'd developed a small hiatal hernia, and as a result, I've regained about fifty pounds. There's been some fallout. I'm not sleeping well, and the dark purple in my nailbeds suggests that I'm not oxygenating well enough in my sleep, i.e., my apneas have probably returned. I'm tired all the time. My clothes don't fit, and...well...the newest developments are the most disturbing.

I need to see the cardiologist myself. I finally told my sister and boyfriend last night. A while back, I noticed a weird, occasional little flip-flop by my heart. By forcibly regulating my breathing and slowing my pulse, I can bring myself back into rhythm; it doesn't happen often, but it's happened more than a few times. The scary part was one night about a week ago when I felt the arteries in my neck begin rapidly fluttering. It's exactly the type of arrhythmia that put my mother in the hospital last year- problem is, I'm thirty-three years younger than Mom.

Ever since my teens, I've largely internalized my stress. This results in a few obvious things: by the time I was sixteen, I suffered from peptic ulcers (which return for a little visit every few years), I get nosebleeds and stress acne, and I had a nervous breakdown while I was in college. Now it's evolving into more serious issues.

I remember my P.E. teacher, Miss Rose, as rather a sage person. I spent some time in her office- the ever-open office door- because she was the first to clue into the problems I was having at home. Unfortunately, it was she who realized that my aunt, who was staying with us while my mother was tending my sick grandmother, had given me 'homemade cough syrup' and sent me to school drunk as a skunk. She discreetly summoned the vice principal, Ivan, who called my aunt and then drove me home.

She also cornered me after I started putting on extra weight around my sophomore year and said, "Your heart won't be able to take all that strain forever. I'm not saying this because of looks. I am worried about your health." Be assured your sins will find you out...however, she's a patient with Mom's cardiologist, too. It would be pretty embarrassing to run into her there.

My father's best friend, who died on Christmas Eve, was my primary care physician. That leaves me sort of 'without country' at the moment, so without anyone who can refer me. The cardiologist did the EKG and echocardiogram for my lapband surgery, but that's the only time I've ever seen him as a patient. It's been so long ago that I doubt they'd still take me without a referral. In the meantime, I just hope nothing goes seriously wrong.

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