put a ring on it – health updates

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.






  1. Oh honey – so sorry to hear all of this. What you’re doing is not nothing – it is definitely important – keeping the home fires burning, the darlings learning, your husband living. It just isn’t very satisfying all of the time.

    I heard a thing on NPR the other day about sleep. When I was raising the darlings alone, I was the worlds’ worst sleeper – always half awake to hear if they were crying, barfing or if someone was trespassing. It is only in the last 15 months or so that I’ve found sleep (along with true love? Perhaps there is a connection there. :) ). Sleep is the most healing, delicious, sensuous, heavenly, healing thing there is. Get thee to a sleep therapist – find someone who can help with hypnosis or yoga or something. Try to avoid the pharmaceutical sleep aids, but try and find a way to have some happy dreams, my friend.

  2. How powerless Phil must feel. Ugh. Poor him. Poor you.

    But you… Sometimes you may have to just fake it til you make it. Force yourself to put the journal away and write here. You know it’s important to establish good habits (exercise, flossing, “WRITING writing”). Also I selfishly miss your posts when you go silent, hahaha.

    It doesn’t have to be designer threads writing! It can be schmatta! I still like it. :)

  3. Wow; so much on your plate. Agree with first person; sleep won’t solve all of your problems but it will make things much more bearable. There is a reason they use sleep deprivation as part of torture. It breaks people down.

    Don’t give up on your health. You are right; it’s too important.

    I am sorry for what you are both going through, and for all the worry you must have about Phil. Hugs to you.

  4. I’m sorry to hear of all this. I have no words of wisdom except to hang in there – as mothers and wives all we can do is our best – keep loving and hugging and hope the universe will be compassionate in return. Take care

    1. Author

      We’re not at that point, no. No one has said to us that Phil needs a heart transplant. The doctor did tell me to make sure that he takes care of his overall health, including his teeth, in case there is ever a need, you want to be a good candidate. *That* was a lovely conversation.

  5. Stephanie, Have you ever considered going back to work outside the home? I tried to work from home and found it really hard to stay motivated. It might be a tough transition but being held accountable to someone else job-wise might really be what you need to maintain high levels of productivity.

  6. Check out the books “Prevent and reverse heart disease” and “Engine 2 diet”. There is a lot of research on Plant based diets and heart conditions.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.