March Madness, Part II - The Cosmic Joker NEVER misses a party
"Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer."- Incubus
I won't share all the details of the story, just the important ones. Half way around the world, a young man, in his mid 30s, collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital and it was determined he was having an aortic dissection. Open heart surgery and 2-3 dozen pints of blood later, he was critical but stable. And now he's recovering, slowly but surely, and I bet, getting used to his own new normal of being a young heart attack survivor. It is nothing short of a miracle that he survived.
I don't believe I've shared another survivor's story before, but this one is different. The man is my cousin.
No cardiologist has really given me a reason for why I had SCAD. There are theories and ideas and likelihoods, but no "reason". Considering everything I've learned about it, I've been comfortable with the notion that my pregnancy was the biggest risk factor. This has been my truth, my reason. But now, it feels like there's a twist in the story. Could there be a genetic factor? Could it be an absolute coincidence? What does this mean for my other cousins? And most scary, is this something I could have passed along to Cameron? So many questions. No answers. I brought this up during my cardiologist visit this week and thank goodness for experts. Dr. B drew a family tree. Asked some questions about my dad's side of the family. Made a few suggestions. Created a list of next steps. Put a process to something that felt like absolute madness to me.
My cousin, whom I haven't seen since a trip to India at the age of 5, is in my thoughts every day. So is his wife. I send him the best of wishes as he adjusts to his new normal.
"I'm trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white.The best thing you've ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all. Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable and lightness has a call that's hard to hear........There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine." - Indigo Girls
Of all the things I expected to feel this week, sad was not one of them. Anxiety maybe, or anticipation or excitement. For at least the last five years, I have believed in the cosmic joker. This wiley character sneaks into your life just when everything seems to find a balance and likes to cause trouble. The cosmic joker can be blamed for most things ironic and all of those annoying, irritating things you never expect and then can't believe actually happened. My doctor's appointment this week went quite well, with the two small exceptions. I've been waking up periodically with a pounding, irregular heartbeat (not painful, just strange) and my cardiologist suspected my thyroid could be to blame (which, honestly, would explain why at 95 lbs, I am at my high school weight.... silly me, I thought it was diet and exercise!!). Altered thyroid function could be the reason for the arrhythmia. However, my blood test came back with normal thyroid function and normal electrolytes - so, hooray for diet and exercise :) But...... Damn. This was the most likely explanation. Perhaps it could be that by nighttime, my meds have worn off and my heart is having difficulty compensating. So, for the next 30 days, I'll wear a monitor to bed (oh so sexy!) and hope to catch the episodes in action. We'll see what happens. And I'm back to taking my beta blocker twice a day. Because I have multiple stents, staying on all my meds for another year is the plan.
Summarily, I had a great appointment. I have a stress test and echo schedule for 3/21 and that will tell us if my heart function has improved any from last summer. This is ALL good.
So why the sadness? The best I can guess is that going to the doctor reminds me that I'm being treated. Treated for something crappy that happened to me, that I have no control over. Something that has totally changed my normal. In a previous post, I mentioned going "back to normal". The old normal doesn't exist - there's nothing to go back to. All of a sudden, this tidalwave of anger and frustration knocked me over. When I got home from work, I sobbed into Brian's chest about how this all just sucks sometimes. And we laughed together because I was being totally ridiculous and then I cried some more because I had to get it out. And then Cameron came home from Grandma's house and I stopped acting like a ridiculous, whiny mess because I'm here.... I had THE BEST outcome. And as Brian said, people go through far worse. Of course, I only have my experiences to go from. But if given the choice of being perfectly healthy with no Cameron, or keeping things as they are.... well, I'd suffer a thousand more SCADs for that boy.
After going through such an emotional process this week, it has become that much more important to share my story at the Heart Ball. I have struggled to find the right words (funny, because blogging has been a great outlet) to express what it means to live with heart disease. It appears that, in letting my guard down a bit, the right words found me. I am eager to share this experience with you next week. And pictures of my gorgeous red dress. It's sooooo pretty :)
"Just when we think we figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So, we have to improvise. We find happiness in unexpected places. We find ourselves back to the things that matter the most. The universe is funny that way. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong." - Grey's Anatomy