Last Wednesday I went through my first hours-long episode of atrial fibrillation, which confirmed that my heart has a physical issue. I already suspected it because I had been experiencing weird heart hiccups. I ended up lying in a bed of the Observation Unit at the local hospital for hours, and the episode of atrial fibrillation only passed because they gave me 300 mg of flecainide, an apparently hardcore medicine that comes with plenty of warnings against its use. That medicine made me unable to even sit down for the remainder of the day, unless I wanted to break in cold sweat and get dizzy and nauseous. It took two days to get the drug out of my system.
I didn’t go to work for those two days, but I intended to return the following week unless I endured through a new episode of atrial fibrillation, which would have suggested that my heart was in an even worse state than I suspected. The doctor and nurses that attended me told me that I should monitor my heart rate in my spare time with a pulse oximeter, which I have access to because my mother was a nurse. I have a scheduled visit with a cardiologist in August, but apart from that, they told me that if another episode of atrial fibrillation starts, I should leave whatever I’m doing and go immediately to the nearest Emergency Department to get an ECG and possibly take some medicine. The related information I’ve found online is confusing and often contradictory, but in general people who suffer through atrial fibrillation are much more likely to suffer terrible issues such as ischemic strokes and other conditions caused by irregular blood flow or clots to vital organs.
This Sunday I woke up, prepared myself a cup of coffee and monitored my heart rate. It was in the mid 40s, the lowest I had ever noticed it. I walked around for a bit and it increased to the high 50s and low 60s, but it quickly fell to the 40s again. My heart still felt (and still does) sore, weird and weak in general. The doctor had told me I should monitor my heart rate, and this seemed like a bad sign, so I called to ask what I should do. They told me to visit the Emergency Department and get an ECG, at least to record that my heart rate had gotten that low, in case that factors in when I visit the cardiologist. After I lay on a different bed of the Observation Unit for half an hour, an attractive doctor in her early twenties told me that I shouldn’t worry about such a low heart rate, only if it fails to go up after some movement. She suggested that I have an athlete’s heart because I walk around quite a bit in the hospital complex where I work, and because I’ve lifted weights semi-regularly for years. I doubt that anyone who looks at me would seriously think that I’m an athlete of any sort.
Also, getting touched by the warm hands of attractive young women made me face that although I can’t stand to be around human beings for long, I do need to get touched. If I wasn’t so ashamed of my penis, I may consider visiting some professional.
As a somewhat random comment, suffering through a physical heart issue reminded me of Hisao Nakai from my favorite visual novel/dating sim ‘Katawa Shoujo’ (an obscure reference). I could swear that I played the game back in 2008, but the information I’ve found suggests it was released in 2012. Anyway, its protagonist suffers a heart attack in the very first scene, then he gets diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia and congenital heart muscle deficiency. He ends up getting sent to a private school for disabled students in which he may get to befriend, romance and possibly frick some peculiar, pained students who endure their own unfair disabilities. The director of this game suffered from the same heart issues, and he ended up passing away due to them a couple of years ago.
Back when I was lying in bed at the Observation Unit, I asked every professional who treated me if the stress I have to deal with on a regular basis contributed to this sudden health issue. They told me that atrial fibrillation is purely a physical matter, unrelated to stress. However, those professionals (all of them suspiciously young) were either ignorant or bold-faced liars, because every article I come across online states the opposite. For example, the following article says that stress and mental health issues may cause atrial fibrillation symptoms to worsen, and it adds that “there is a complex relationship between atrial fibrillation and anxiety and depression. Some research shows that people with atrial fibrillation may be more affected by depression and anxiety.”
I was born with high-functioning autism (formerly Asperger’s), dealing with increasing anxiety is a constant struggle from the moment I leave the safety of a locked room in which I’m alone, and I endure through cycles of a depression that a former psychiatrist diagnosed as “resistant to treatment”. Obviously I’m fucked. I have to assume that heart failure or a serious stroke is on the horizon for me. I don’t think I will go through the pain of trying to find another job that I can tolerate better. I am too old for that already, and although my current job as a computer technician at a hospital only keeps me employed for eight or so months out of a year, it’s still the most reliable job I’ve ever had. Previously I was a programmer; when I managed to get hired, half of the time I worked as an unpaid intern, and exploited as such.
These last four days I’ve rested as much as I could. Instead of writing as feverishly as I used to, I played a couple of sessions of my favorite card/board game of all time: ‘Arkham Horror’. I’m halfway through the ‘Edge of the Earth’ campaign with my personal decks for Zoey Samaras (who’s an OP beast with the Cyclopean Hammer; I suspect it’ll get tabooed at some point), Monterey Jack and my beloved Jacqueline Fine (unrelated), whose ability to manipulate the Chaos Bag makes for a very peculiar playstyle. I’m already playing with premium tokens from BuyTheSameToken (I had to pay sixty-five or so euros just to import them from the UK, though), and I’m waiting to receive in the mail additional 3D-printed stuff such as this fantastic deck/discard holder combo.
In general, movies and shows fail to grab my attention enough (in part because I can’t connect with people); I have very little patience with books and I bail on them if they annoy me, which happens more often than not; and videogames these days are almost fraudulent, or the dreaded FOMO causes me to wait until some vital updates/mods come out. I’m waiting for the Elder Scrolls mod to come out for ‘Crusader Kings 3’, and I’m also waiting for ‘Victoria 3’, the Steam version of ‘Dwarf Fortress’, and ‘Starfield’ to be released. Board games give me a tight, tense two-to-three hours of gameplay, which can go up to four in the case of ‘Arkham Horror’, then I can shelve them for another day.
Anyway, I’m trying to get back into writing my current novel. Plenty of increasingly deranged stuff to come as we head into what will pass for a traditional third act in this tale. I’ll also try not to die, at least until I finish what I must.