Phil had a scheduled appointment with his cardiologist the other day, routine, a checkup. But the news wasn’t routine; it was news.
"Well, you’re now officially 100% in a-fib (atrial fibrillation), which isn’t good. The pacemaker hasn’t been able to pace you out of it and knock you into sinus rhythm. At all."
Refresher course: Phil’s father died at age 32 of a cardiomyopathy. Phil now has a cardiomyopathy. And a pacemaker. And a built in defibrillator, to combat against "sudden death," a very real symptom of his condition. The a-fib is battering his heart, creating more scar tissue, which, over time, causes his heart to grow larger and larger. That’s not always bad, but, each doctor has said, "If it were me, or my son, I’d do whatever it took to get out of a-fib." We tried once. Phil had an ablation, where they go in and burn parts of the heart, hoping to kill the electric current that’s going all willy nilly, but they have to be very careful, because the tissue is highly diseased, they don’t know how thick it is, and if they sever it, that’s that. You’re done. But when you’re conservative like that, going in, trying to get what you can, you can miss things. And the A-fib can come back. In Phil’s case, it’s back, 100%. So now what?
Today they want to put him under and cardiovert him. Yes, that’s when the doc says, CLEAR, then hits him with the paddles. Not to be an asshole or anything, but last time they did it, they got him into sinus rhythm (normal), and it lasted, not even 7 hours. He was back in a-fib the next day.
The scariest thing in all this is that Phil is asymptomatic. He has no idea when he’s in a-fib, no idea when his ejection fraction is at 10! He’ll know his ejection fraction (a percentage of blood pumped into the heart, then pumped out) on April 1, but we’re expecting it to be good. Last we checked it was close to normal again.
His electrophysiologist, Dr. Natale, did Phil’s last ablation. And he’s used to going in and doing up to 6-7 ablations on patients until he finally stops the a-fib. But Phil can’t imagine going through that. The last time he had an ablation, he took it hard. We all did. He was in bad shape. He needs another one, and the bitch of it is, even with all that suffering, we don’t know if it will even work.
Then there’s my excellent luck. Last night I got a case of food poisoning. Not a half case, a full on double decker that hit me on the top and bottom. I spent the night on the loo, bucket and bags in hand. It feels like someone has squeezed me, really hard in the middle.
Because Phil and I have date night on Thursdays, our love Norma put the sprouts to bed. In the middle of the night, pre-flush, I hear a piercing skwak. I felt like Miss Clavel. Something is not right! I wipe and run, vomit adventure bag in hand.
Abigail’s sitting up in the dark, sobbing. "What, baby girl, what is it?"
"I went pee-pee," she says. And I feel her, feel the bed. Everything’s soaked. I try to run, but I can’t quite make it. Vomitando. More crying. I clean, change pjs, put a diaper on Little Miss (Norma forgot), change sheets. Then Abigail screams because she wants her stuffed whale, the one I gave her earlier that night to reward her 10 poops in the potty star system. Except she’s peed on Senor Whale. I try to explain that he’s wet, but she tells me I need to go wash him. She won’t hear the word "tomorrow," won’t stand for any replacement talk: "Here, take Talullah, for now." She whales for the whale. And I feel the rage of ‘rhea. I dash out, and tag team Phil in.
"You’ve got to take over," I say, racing for the bathroom. (I just threw up now, writing this). I should be at the hospital with him. He’s being put under. And no one is there with him. I can’t make it to the hospital without sharting. It’s times like these that I wish we had family here (especially my massage therapist of a sister. I know this is very wrong, but every part of me hurts, my back feels like it’s on fire, my shoulders boulders. I need a massage like you read about in textbooks). No one should wait alone in a hospital, and no one should go in alone. I hope this passes soon, so I can get over there. Maybe I’ll ask Norma to diaper me, too.