Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"MEN" - re-Posted --- Just because I feel like it.

(from a few weeks ago - still torturing myself)


Well, the title should probably more accurately be "Selecting men". Subtitle: Not a damn thing to do with Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Men - I have abaaaaad track record here. Starting as a child; my first crush was overwhelming; I was more than smitten; I was in love at around age 7 or 8. Utterly, staggeringly, feverishly in love. And the Object of My Desire? (OMD) None other than Sonny Jurgensen. Pre-Redskins; he was a Philadelphia Eagle. He and his favorite receiver and drinking buddy Tommy McDonald went to my church. Sonny may have been an electrifying quarterback, but he was a wee bit short of a model citizen. Boozer, party-er, too many DUI's to count, trotted out on field with a very impressive beer belly. He bordered on being a bum. Certainly in the "bad boy" camp. My hero.

Yes, this was my first crush. My mom and dad thought it was cute, which brings their parenting skills into sharp relief. A quick trip to a child psychiatrist might have been prudent.

After Sonny, let's see how my men-selection skills matured - turn to the Beatles. In the late sixties, little girls divided into two camps. The smart girls who would be good at choosing husbands - they liked Paul. You know, the cute one, the nice one, the one who loved one woman for decades. The good husband. Me? No, of course not. I thought Paul was insipid, untalented and dull. My skills took me from Sonny to the edgier John L. I was drawn, naturally, to the future heroin addict. Apparently, what we look for in a man is set at a very young age.

And so it continues. The ex-husband, old what's his name, is definitely in the bad boy camp. In his day, his looks, 'style' and persona were of the semi-dangerous ilk. While he's been called many things, insipid is not one of them. But I digress.

And now, I am drawn once again to a not-Paul McCartney guy, my current, unrevealed OMD. I think he's a step up from John L and old what's his name and certainly from Sonny J, but who really knows? Today, we are merely friends (well that's a crappy word - we are wonderfully friends, just not the other)/. I THINK he MIGHT be a step in the right direction, but my self talk goes like this:

(Angel is played by the one who says run, run, run away from this guy. Devil is we know what).

Angel: Really??? Ok, he is smart, quick, honest, magnificently funny, cute, kind. Seems to have at least the minimum level of introspection, but let's see - have I EVER been interested in a man who didn't drink too much?

Devil: the heart wants what it wants.

Angel: Oh, grow up. That is just an excuse for another round of self-destructive behavior. And now you have Skippy to think about - how can you do that to him?
Devil: Life is short. I want what I want. I love his company. He makes me laugh. I have fun - excellent, excellent, excellent fun.

Angel: Has it dawned on you that the list of incompatibilities is 10 times longer than the list of compatibilities?
Devil: Would someone please kill that Angel. It is really on my last nerve.

Perhaps I could make a dress or hoop skirt out of some combination of traffic cones and crime scene tape - all saying
"BEWARE - train wreck ahead. Train wreck ahead".

I Can Be Such a Jerk

Geez. We like to think of ourselves as nice people, but sometimes, I just have to wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a former colleague who had lost his wife years ago - all I had known was that her death was sudden and she was horribly young (+- 40) and had left behind a husband and multiple young children. Yesterday, he told me that she was in the SCA 98% - she died of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. (Back then, I think they were still often calling it Sudden Death Syndrome. I have one RN who calls it that - as you might imagine, not my favorite term).

We know 98% don't survive. Being in the 2% club is obviously a matter of great luck, though I know some believe that our survival and their death are part of some "plan" - not me - I just think I was extraordinarily lucky that day. I woke up to odd sensations; she did not wake up.

But back to my being a jerk. I have whined and complained about the defibrillator, about dealing with fears, about the looming specter of dating and revealing this crap, about people expecting me to have earth-shattering revelations, blah blah blah.

I have also been grateful - very, very grateful. But not enough.
This morning as I thought about our conversation yesterday and what he and his children lived through - the horror, the shock of that day, the incomprehesibilty of it and all they had to come to terms with.
I need to make amends to my loved ones who got and made the phone calls that morning. They were told I was near death (well, technically true, I guess. But I was never 'sick' - the heart stopped, they restarted it and I felt fine.). They were told I could have serious heart damage and/or brain damage (happily, I had neither. Aside from an ever-deteriorating memory that is probably utterly unrelated to SCA).

They got those phone calls. I can now picture it; making the decisions about who was traveling to Wilmington when, who was to talk with the doctors, all that. Happily for them, this was short lived - I was up and around and fine later the same day. Shell-shocked at the events, scared, confused, but up and around nonetheless.

They got and made those phone calls. I'm not sure I have stopped to genuinely consider what that day was like for them. Unlike my former colleague, their horror lasted only a day; his was probably interminable. But I never have asked them what their day was like; I have told them (probably ad nauseum) what MINE was like, but I guess I felt entitled to that level of self-absorption. I mean, if we are not permitted to be self-focussed about surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest, then when?

I can be such a jerk. I will make my amends.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Skies and Birthdays

The sky. The sky is a gift. Tonight, it is one of those very very black skies offset with grey-ish white whispy clouds that partially obscure a brilliantly white not-full moon. That's the best description I can come up with and it falls so far short that it's embarrassing.

One day this week, I spent an early evening out on the friend's boat. We went out at around 4 and got back in around 9 - after dark. No swimming that day, just a slow, lazy cruise. Another perfect day. Your breath is taken away at each turn; ocean breakers in the distance, pristine marsh grasses, dolphins playing nearby -- just a magnificent day. And as we eventually turned for home, the sky... It was a mixed sky - some clouds, some sun and the colors gradually turned brilliant - so many shades of fierce red and pink and white slowly, slowly turning to black.

We both were transfixed by it - without comment for the longest time. Finally I said that it was one of those skies that it was wasteful to attempt to photograph - no picture ever could get it. An almost trite thought, admittedly.

I have just one word for a day like that - gratitude. Grateful for my friend, for his boat and for those skies. Grateful to be here - first to "be" after a year and also to be "here" in this spectacular place. And again, so grateful for my friend.

PS. Skippy's birthday is past. Tomorrow is old-what's-'is-name's birthday (aka the Ex). This will be, I think, the first time in 27 years that I will let it pass un-marked. No card, no call, no email. Before, even in our separated/divorced years, I always contacted him; I dreaded the idea that he would get no cards or no calls. This year, at long last, it just doesn't matter to me.
I believe the excision/exorcism is complete.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Whew - first anniversary is over

So glad that the first anniversary of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is in the rear view mirror; it has been weighing on my mind for weeks now. I kept waiting to feel celebratory and never did. Anxious, but never did get in a mood anyone would call celebratory.

I'm not a brooder by nature, but I found myself in weeks past brooding on the lack of cause and effect, the lack of definitive signs and symptoms and the UTTER lack of data on liklihood of recurrence. But finally, let it go.

Now, I realize that for me, for as many of these anniversaries that I am fortunate enough to have --- for me, it will celebrating a year without an event. A cardiac event to be specific. THAT is cause for celebration, to be sure.

One great aspect about the SCA anxiety is that I am far less anxious about other things. Took a boat out over the weekend with my visiting sister, who has more boating skill than I do (very low bar), but I think is accustomed to deeper water than is in our Intracoastal Waterway. She got progressively MORE concerned about hitting sandbars. Me, not so much. I wanted to explore the little fingers, admittedly at very slow speed so that any hit to a sandbar would not be apocalyptic. I mean, we HAD a depth finder.

But I relented. Relaxed and enjoyed the ride on a spectacular coastal day.

glad the year is over. Uneventfully over.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Celebratory Anxiety or Anxious Celebration

I must admit that I am still not feeling celebratory. Skippy's (the defibrillator's) first birthday is around the corner (September 5). I fully expected to feel joyful, and thought I'd be planning a gratitude-filled celebration. However, while it certainly has been on my mind relentlessly in the past week or two, instead of that joy, I continue to feel anxious.

This anxiety is not rational (is any?). It's out of character for me to dwell on what I cannot control or impact, but I continue to dwell on that morning one year ago. I want there to be cause and effect for the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA); I want there to have been undeniable signs and symptoms that morning that would have anyone,anywhere seek medical attention. Every now and then, I also just wish it had never happened, but truthfully, not too much of that.

Every now and then I think "why me?" but not often. Recently, I had to listen to an acquaintance who has subjected his body to massive abuse for decades tell me he came through his physical with flying colors. Annoying, while I prepare to mark the date of my implanted defibrillator. But these are not the dominant thoughts; these pass quickly. The 'why me?' question also passes or dissolves quickly into thoughts of my gifts - decent IQ, good hair -- what we inherit is a crap shoot, so I don't muse often or for long about getting a raw deal with SCA.

But the anxiety is from there having been no known reason and even more frightening, no compelling symptoms or signs. All I had that morning was an unnerving sensation that something was weird in my chest (turned out to be rapid heart rate). My going to the ER was just very, very lucky. I've had loved ones tell me that I went because I was intelligent enough to recognize that something very out of the ordinary was happening. I was there that morning, and I just don't think it was a decision based on IQ level.

It was instinct; it was fear of the unknown; it was something that got me to the ER.
So I am wrestling these days with the anxiety of the lack of a known cause for the SCA, no available prediction on recurrence, a complete lack of understanding of why I went to the ER and therefore survived, and having no confidence I would recognize a sign/symptom again.

But aside from all that, I'm looking forward to 9/5. that was pure sarcasm; I am just looking forward to having the date in my rear view mirror. This is not fun.