What I Did On My Summer Vacation, Part Deux

Okay, okay...simmer down, youz yeggs.

I had begun to write Part 2 last night, intending to include it with Part 1; but, by the time I got full into the EKG story, my contacts had dried out and I kept falling asleep on my keyboard. I now have


imprinted on my forehead.

Anyway, go easy on me. I wasn't trying to be cute with the cliffhanger; just adding a little levity to ease my tension. GOOD LORD, FORGIVE ME, I HAVE A WEAK HEART!

Just kidding.

I think.

Anyway, it goes like this:

I was feeling a bit tight in the chest area. Kind of like if overnight, my boobs had gone from an A-cup to a C-cup and all of a sudden the Ace bandage that I call a bra was way too small. Tight like that. And then, there was the shortness of breath....

Okay, let me back-up.

I'm a bit of a hypochondriac and - what many polite folks refer to as - high-metabolism.

I mean, high-spirited.

Or is it high-maintenance?

Possibly all three. And throw in high-strung and just plain jumpy. At times. Sometimes, I can be real mellow. But, really, not since 1996. Anyway...

I get stressed-out and for some reason it becomes a pleasant distraction for me to focus my stress on my health instead of, say, worrying over the wallpaper or the lawn or third world debt. Who in their sound mind worries about third world debt these days when Bono has it under control?

Me. I wear stress across my shoulders like a fifty-pound mantle of pond-soaked bread. But, you knew that about me, right?

So on or about the date upon which my hubby and I had planned to celebrate 9 years of connubial bliss (with each other, even), I awoke with a piercing pain around my eye-socket and which radiated through my cheekbone and into each and every tooth on the left side of my face. Now, some people would wake with such a pain and think Oh drat, I slept on the wrong side of my face again. Others might think Hmmmmm...sinus infection? Toothache?

I, on the other hand, immediately think Bells Palsy! Tunneling Facial Worm Disease! Crikees, I've got so much laundry to do and two field trips and what will I cook for dinner and wouldn't it be a relief to worry about Herpes Simplex Keratitis instead?

And, usually, I can talk myself down from my ledges of hysteria. But this time, the pain seemed real. I mean, it really, really hurt. Really. I couldn't even concentrate on enjoying the lovely chocolate chip pancakes I had cooked for breakfast so, you know, when chocolate and maple syrup-soaked carbs aren't healing your imginary Bell's Palsy or Exploding Face Disease, well, maybe there's something to it.

So, off to the doctor. With a sidetrip to the dentist, just because.

AND, I cancelled our anniversary dinner plans. So you can see how the stress - and just plain bitterness - is compounding.

Well, after ten days worth of antibiotics, steriods-up-the-nose, and disgruntled husband, the face pain in gone. Now, however, the antibiotics have made my tummy all screwy (yeah, yeah, yogurt, yogurt, yogurt...) and I'm having stabbing Ulcer! Gall Bladder! Kidney Stones! Tapeworm! pains. They got so bad one day that I passed-up a plate of homemade hummus and turned away a caramel apple with real whipped-cream dessert. So you can see this is serious.

Where is this all leading, you ask? Well, what finally happened is that, as always, I forget that the original impetus behind all my malingering and Munchausing was to get my mind off my more mundane, white-cotton worries. And somewhere along the way, my body took the lead and decided that "mind over matter" was a challenge and that Bill Moyers needed his arse kicked.

So, here I am. Or rather, there I was. Once again in the doctor's office with complaints of tightness in the chest and feeling as if I couldn't take a deep enough breath. However, by now, I'm run ragged with all this illness nonsense and ready to hear "It's stress: take a yoga class, cut down on caffeine, let your kids wear dirty socks for a week or so." Which is exactly what the nurse practitioner told me.

(That's right...just so that there is room for that shred of doubt in my mind, the doctor wasn't in to tell me all is well. It was the nurse practitioner who prodded and poked and diagnosed me. And I'm sure that she's been at this a long time and that she knows just as much as the doc, and it's just that she doesn't want to hang an M.D. after her name what with the added insurance and early-morning tee times...)

So, all is relatively well. I can go back to being high-strung instead of strung-out. But before I leave, the nurse practitioner and I have this exchange:

"Thank you, Ms. Nurse Practitioner. By the way, if my symptoms don't improve in a week or so, should I call you for a handful of Xanax?"

"Well, sure, you could call. But, what you really want to look for is any change in symptoms."

"Oh yes? Like...?"

"Well, you definitely want to call right away if you are feeling any tightness in your chest or a shortness of breath."

"Oooooohhhhkkkaaaaay? Like, what I have right now?"

There have been several times in my life when a healthcare practitioner looked like s/he wanted to slap me. This was another one of those times.

But Ms. Nurse Practitioner held it together, heaved a big sigh, and then suggested that perhaps it might be a good idea - given the fact that I'm a hysterical ninny - to run a baseline EKG. It would take a few seconds, she would come back with the results, confirm that I am a ninny, and I'd go home and soak in a lavender bath.

I was ready for this conclusion. My hypochondria had a good run of it for a few weeks; however, now it was time to move onto other more pressing matters: the high cost of mulch, tusnamis, etc. But you know, I had a feeling as the EKG was crunching out the sheet of paper whereupon was recorded the Ba's and da's and dump's of my ventricles and valves...I had a feeling that it just wouldn't be as simple as leaving the office with my nuerotic tail between my legs.

And after another nurse ripped the leads from my skin (I now have two perfectly hairless half-inch squares on each of my calves), Ms. Nurse Practitioner returned with EKG recording in her hand and, with the annoyed sigh of someone who thinks they're going to hear "TOLD YOU SO!", said:

"Well, there's something here on V1 that isn't what it's supposed to be."

Hmmm. Interesting. Well, what is it?

It seems that there is a small inversion in the Ba-da-dumps coming from the lead connected to V1. That is, one of the EKG recorded lines is dipping down like a little smiley, when it should be an arch, like a little gumpus face. What can I say...I have that joy, joy, joy, joy deep in my heart. Other than that, Ms. NP couldn't speculate on what it meant, if anything, only that sometimes women's EKGs just recorded differently than the EKGs of men; that our funky downbeats were sometimes considered de rigueur and still highly danceable, whereas the same recording by a man would just be cornball, Jack, a real out-to-lunch drag.

Or not.

I was hoping that she would say, "Oh. A ba-da-dump on V1 is inverted. That means from here on out, you will need a daily Swedish massage and a gin-and-tonic for breakfast. And I'm writing a prescription for a week in Cancun."

Instead, with much more sighing and shaking her head, she begrudgingly announced that now she'd have to send me to have a stress test. A thallium stress test. Which means that on June 16th, if you hear the Three Mile Island sirens go off, it's either another Amish pilot who can't read a compass (NOW let's see how many CIA hits my blog gets), or it's me, radioactive and crossing the Market Street Bridge.

So the jury is currently taking a decaffeinated coffee break. However, judging by the fact that Ms. NP didn't burst into the room waving my EKG and screaming "DEFIBRILLATOR! STAT! CLEAR! CLEAR! CLEAR!" and instead lazily scheduled my next heart test five weeks out...well, let's just say I'm holding steady and thinking of England.


anne said...

Is there something wrong in England?

Just kidding.

Glad to hear everyting is ok. Or at least ok enough so you aren't worried. And so we aren't worried.

I once asked my Dr. about heart disease because of dad and he said "Well, you're young, female, you don't smoke and you're not overweight (Right...in his opinion). The only other thing we can test is your cholesterol." I asked what that would involve and, when I found out I would have to fast for something like 24 hours, I decided it really is not for me to know the time and place when my little life might be snuffed out. I can only hope I land face-down in a cheesecake when it happens.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that you Ok in the body. but I have to say your blog entry sounds exactly like my lovely wife. You two need to form a support group.

josetteplank.com said...

Thanks youz guys.

Well, it's not so much that I fear death, per se. I mean, it would stink to the highest degree for my kiddos should I make an early departure; and for my husband, who I am sure would grieve and then spend many additional unhappy years laboring under the assumption that he now "has a shot" with Heidi Klum.

That's not where my anxiety stems from. What I truly am worried about is possiblity of existence after death and the then eternal embarrassment I would face should Keith Richards outlive me.


Michael Plank said...

C'mon, Heidi Klum married Seal, fer cryin' out loud. You're telling me I don't have a shot?

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