Thursday, July 19, 2012
What we all had was an electrical outage. We definitely all had that. Bu they can't tell us much. Often they can't tell us why; they can't tell us the probability of its happening again; they won't give us odds. Maybe it will stop again, maybe it won't. Instead, they give many of us defibrillators in our chests. Because unlike the electrical outage in your house, the one in your heart doesn't just "come back on again" in a few minutes. And no, CPR won't restart an electrically stopped heart - it just buys a little time.
None of us had warning; we wake up after our SCA and someone tells us our new story. Electrical outage, heart stopped, we know nothing. Sorry. It's a long list of adjustments. Many have heart or brain damage to contend with. Most are not permitted to drive, at least for a few months. We are told not to scuba dive, no MRI's - ever. Airport security poses some new issues. We worry about what is safe and what suddenly is unsafe. Some get implanted defibrillators. Probably all of us get some medication to take - although in my heart of hearts, I think they're pretty much guessing with that too. Just in case. So we struggle to adjust. We fend off fear on top of fear. We slowly adapt.
We are scared, we're grateful, we know we are exceptionally lucky and unlucky at the same time.
Mostly, I think what we are is stunned. This softens over time, but it doesn't go away - this is stunning, this naked fact that our hearts simply up and stopped. There are some things in life that are meant to be certainties - the sun will rise tomorrow and set tonight. The sky is blue, clouds are white. Puppies and children are cute. Homemade pies and plums are wonderful. The ocean will take my breath away every single time I see it. Dolphin and deer raise one's spirits. Libraries and hardware stores are just the most wonderful places. A good baseball game is magnificent, particularly one that starts in the late day and ends under the lights. The Cubs will never ever win the World Series again. And healthy hearts will continue to beat. Certainties.
Just like sunrises and dolphin - you should never have to think about whether a 'healthy' heart will keep beating. Of course it will. We SCA survivors know it's no longer true. We find one another on the web and we grapple with uncertainty and fear and the joy of our exceptionally good luck.
But each of us knows, every single day - that something in there went off the rails. Our hearts are not normal. We may still not have a diagnosis, we may still be told our hearts are otherwise 'healthy', but we know ----these hearts are not normal. They simply stop. They are not sure things.
So Chicago, take heart - the Cubs may win again one day.