Saturday, September 13, 2008

you say good-bye, i say hello...

bye-bye, life
bye-bye, happiness
hello, loneliness
i think i'm gonna die
i think i'm gonna die

bye-bye, love
bye-bye, sweet caress
hello, emptiness
i feel like i could die
bye-bye my life, goodbye
bye-bye my life, goodbye

"it's showtime, folks."
-- joe gideon, all that jazz

it occurred to me, as i lay there with a tube up my nose and IV ports in both arms and a pulse oximeter on my finger, that maybe i had miscalculated.

maybe, i thought, i'm not in such good shape after all.

and for a few moments, i was scared.

i didn't want mrs. spaceneedl to see it, however, so i did my best joe gideon impersonation.

"i wanted to stay at work, dear, but my heart just wasn't in it."


i spent some time in the emergency department this week. it seemed prudent, as i thought i might've been having a heart attack.

it wasn't an acute pain, more of a constant pressure in the middle of my chest. it felt like i was forgetting to breathe, but i'd take a deep breath, and the feeling stayed the same.

it wasn't anything i've ever felt before. which was a little worrisome. not worrisome enough to say or do anything, however. through the day, into the evening, into bed. the occasional shift in position, and a deep, sighing breath.

"what's the matter, dear, you seem restless," mrs. spaceneedl finally said.

"mmm, i don't know. i've had this pressure in my chest all day, and it won't go away."


she works for a company that makes defibrillators and other cardiac-care products. i'm sure she'd be deeply embarrassed if her husband succumbed to some sort of coronary event.

"i'm sure it's nothing," i said. "let's go to sleep."

i'm sure she found that comforting.

i might as well have said, "sleep well, sweets. i may be dead in the morning -- is the insurance paid up?"

i slept like a stone. not long before the alarm went off, she reached over and put her hand on my chest.

"i'm still alive, dear."

we laughed. and i felt fine. the symptoms had gone away overnight. so i got up, went through my routine, and went to work. no muss, no fuss. until about 8:15, when the pressure came back.

huh. this isn't right. maybe i'll call the missus and get a second opinion.

she asked an electrophysiologist colleague what he thought -- he thought i should go to the emergency room, immediately. and while i'm loath to go to the hospital for any reason, i found his sense of urgency persuasive. so i drove myself to the hospital.

this isn't fair, i thought en route. i take care of myself. i eat right most of the time, i exercise semi-frequently. i have no family history of heart disease, and i have next to no lifestyle-related risk factors.

shoot, maybe i'm dying of boredom.

shortly thereafter i was in a hospital bed, wired up like a christmas tree. they injected me with this and that, took blood, took a series of x-rays, ran me through a CT scanner. nurses and doctors came and went, and reported on my status. somewhere in between, the symptoms subsided.

a few hours later, the tests showed no sign of a heart attack. but to confirm, they scheduled further tests with a cardiologist.

the next morning i got up early and hung out with the staff of dr. somebody-or-other. first came an injection of contrast dye, followed by a resting echocardiogram. next was a treadmill session, designed to ramp up the heart rate and potentially recreate any symptoms. i ran through the end of the test, at an 18% incline, so they just called it off and injected more contrast for another echocardiogram.

the results weren't immediately available, but the nurse said if i did that well on the treadmill, chances of suffering a heart attack were low.

yesterday, the cardiologist called. my heart showed no sign of injury, she said. no ischemia, no arrhythmia. an ejection fraction of 57%, which is "very good."

so i had a bundle of symptoms, but no diagnosis. which is disconcerting. i also have the best confirmation of cardiac health that insurance can buy. which is reassuring.

i think i'm fine, therefore i am.*

and because i think i'm fine, later today i'm going to take my clean bill of health out for a spin. which is to say, i'm going to go for a run down to elliott bay marina. i'm going to soak up the warm, sunny day, and look at the boats.

because i should, while i still can.

* * * * *

* if this turns out to be my last post...well, you'll know i was wrong.


Bon said...

freekin' god spaceneedl - you could give a girl warning when your going to post something like this.

oh. maybe last week's post was a warning ...

i'm just sayin...

spaceneedl said...

i'm fairly confident that this won't be my last post.

did i just jinx myself? i hope i didn't just jinx myself.

put it this way: i plan to post some more, which is to say, i'm currently alive. in boston.

it's showtime, folks!