Phil got some alarming health news this week. Phil’s father died in his 30’s of a Cardiomyopathy (“Heart Muscle Disease” having nothing to do with a poor diet). Phil has a Cardiomyopathy. Phil is 47. Phil is now in complete heart block (Third-degree AV block). Since we’ve been married, he’s had emergency heart surgery. Nurses have cried to us, wishing for better news. Phil is, and always has been, asymptomatic; he’s a pain in the ass like the rest of us.
At his recent appointment for his heart defibrillator “device check,” they print out a history of everything that has gone down since his prior appointment. The device inside his heart serves as a shocking defibrillator, but it’s also a recorder, monitoring his heart rate, so when he goes for a “device check” they download all the information and review it, to get a full picture of what’s been going on. Has his heart rate been in sinus rhythm, in atrial fibrillation (a-fib)–putting you at an increased risk of stroke? In the past, yes, he was, and in the past, he had an ablation, to try to rectify this. And it corrected itself on its own, then the a-fib came back, went away, came back, etc. But then, recently, Phil started to get something worse: ventricular tachycardia (v-tach) “or a rapid heart beat, that starts in the bottom chambers of the heart, called the ventricles. The ventricles are the main pumping chambers of the heart. This is a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia because it may lead to ventricular fibrillation, asystole, and sudden death.” -Wikipedia
These v-tach episodes last for 30 second increments, sometimes less, then his device tries to pace him out of the episode, but sometimes it fails, and another attempt is made. Another 30 seconds of v-tach, then he is paced out of it for 2 seconds, then he’s in v-tach for another 17 seconds, and so on. It’s not pretty. The big concern is these v-tach episodes are damaging his heart. Not just that, they’re also pricked between episodes of a-fib (which add scar tissue to the heart and increase risk of stroke). He hasn’t discussed any of this with his doctor because that’s Phil. He doesn’t want to because there’s nothing he can do about it. I feel like I’m going to vomit, so I’m going to move onto another topic.
After six months of dating, George Clooney put a ring on it. At age 38, I put an Estring up in it. Welcome to hormone therapy at age 38, TMI edition. Zero passion, less direction, no drive. My sex life consists of a remote control that does not vibrate. It plays episodes of “Naked & Afraid” on the Discovery channel, and at this point, I’m just afraid (oh, but at least we’re laughing). I’m on estrogen, and I have no hot flashes (this is good), but I’d certainly never use the word “great” or “amazing” when asked how I’m feeling. I also haven’t been using any testosterone, since my testosterone levels spiked way up and I felt absolutely no different when I was using the stuff. I was over-applying the stuff, and still, I felt like the Chorus Line song, “I felt Nothing.” No more driven, no more sexual, no more hairy even, just a little bit on my thigh where applied.
But here’s the thing: it’s my health. And I can’t give up. I have to keep trying and reaching out to friends, sending desperate emails and being vulnerable, admitting that I’m miserable and depressed, in a funk, unproductive, unfocused, down. Not sleeping. Boo. I’m writing in a journal, yes, but I haven’t been writing writing, and that’s where most of my inner anxiety is. I’ve been riding a stationary bike of mama, consisting of reorganizing a playroom, weeding, teaching, pruning closets. But other women do this and still manage to work and feed and nourish their families. See, normally, I’d have wise advice and just the right thing to say about all of this. That’s how I know I’m not myself and need some blood work pronto.