At half past two in the afternoon of today, Friday, half an hour before my weekend started, I finished configuring a laptop to solve an issue at the warehouse of the operating rooms (I work at a hospital). As I was walking back to the office from the warehouse, I felt a hot snake crawling up my guts; a sensation different from the Irritable Bowel Syndrome that is one of the banes of my existence. When I sat at my desk, I felt a pressure in my chest like the beginning of a burp, or a bubble expanding. When the sensation of pressure subsided, my heart suddenly went haywire with the worst case of arrhythmia I’ve ever had, which I guess isn’t saying much because this is the second time my heart has betrayed me.
Back in June I posted an entry about the first time such a thing happened to me. I got diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, caused by a physical issue in my personal engine. Here’s the link to that entry. I bought a portable Wellue ECG Monitor, which allowed me to assuage my paranoia regarding how my heart was behaving on any given day. Today, as I realized that I was coming down with another arrhythmia, I relied on the ECG monitor, which showed me that I had a heart rate of about 200.
A kind coworker of mine, a woman who unfortunately shares her name with an ex of mine, accompanied me to the ER. They wheeled me to the Observation Unit, where I undressed, lay on a bed and allowed a bunch of nurses and a doctor to hook me up to a couple of monitors. The male nurse kept rubbing his crotch along my right arm; he may be partial to bearded, disheveled men who seem unhinged even before they open their mouths. Because the arrhythmia refused to let me be, they gave me a couple of pills of flecainide, 100 mgs less than what a different doctor prescribed the last time; the current doctor considered the previous dose too high. Flecainide is a drug with a black box label; apparently if you rely on it for chronic arrhythmia, it may give you a heart attack or possibly worse.
Here’s the photographic proof of this whole regrettable incident:
I have already forgotten plenty of details of this afternoon; I’m exhausted. However, as I was lying there waiting for the flecainide to take effect (when I closed my eyes, the light that slipped through my eyelids swirled from red to green to blue to pink and back to red), I thought to myself that maybe this was it: my heart is going to fail me worse and worse until one day I simply drop dead. Then again, so what? What I fear of dying is the agony. If this affliction killed me, what would I miss that truly matters? The only thing that has fulfilled me enough in the last few years has been writing, the single activity that has worked for me to cope with the general nightmare of existing as this creature I’m forced to be: a bundle of high-functioning autism, OCD, neglect, a body permanently wrecked by a pituitary tumor that didn’t get discovered until my mid-twenties, IBS, and so on. If I were dead, I wouldn’t need to cope with anything.
When my heart rate decreased, they wheeled me to the so-called Results Unit, where I was supposed to wait for the consequences of the drug they gave me. I waited there for about three hours. As I was monitoring my heart rate, which refused to calm itself, a guy in his mid-twenties kept infuriating the nurses by constantly muttering to himself, trying to get down from the bed although he couldn’t stand straight, and demanding to be guided to the bathroom, where the nurses would be forced to hold his dick as he pissed. The nurses wheeled him into the bathroom four times, and although they spent minutes with him inside, presumably holding his dick, he didn’t piss a single drop, a fact that they readily shared with the rest of the room. I personally would have loved to strangle that guy, if only because he was worsening my heart rate. He was clearly crazy, though; he seemed to be stuck in a mental loop.
What are the odds that just this morning (at the office) I wrote a review for McCarthy’s The Passenger (here’s the review, by the way), a story through which McCarthy contemplated his mortality, and that focused on a schizophrenic character, only to end up wasting my afternoon contemplating my own mortality and being forced to tolerate an insane guy who kept muttering to nobody? Who came up with this cosmic joke of a life? Because I ain’t laughing.
Anyway, four hours had passed but my arrhythmia persevered. The doctor seemed a bit worried. She decided that I would spend the night in the Observation Unit, and if my heart hadn’t returned to normal in the morning, they would consider nastier treatments. They shoved a stick down each of my nostrils to figure out if I’m also infected with covid, then they wheeled me back to the Results Unit. As I was waiting there, my heart returned to sinus rhythm as if a switch had been flipped. Who the fuck knows. My doctor told me to fuck off and go home, in nicer words.
So now I’m at home in my underwear, sitting at my desk and writing these words. The left side of my chest feels as if someone had punched me repeatedly. I don’t know what else to say in that regard.
I can’t properly explain the feeling I’ve been stuck with since last June, when my heart, an engine that is supposed to work tirelessly for the rest of my life, proved unreliable. At work, I no longer pursue any user when they don’t pick up the phone or answer the e-mails. When they fail to include necessary details in the tickets, which happens every day, instead of calling them, I write them an e-mail and shelve that task until they themselves show that they care enough about their own problems. I also avoid dealing with coworkers if they are the kind to annoy me or cause conflict to any extent, which has already resulted in a few ceasing to interact with me (it has been a blessing). In my spare time few things have changed, because I don’t have a social life and I haven’t lifted weights since spring. However, sometimes during masturbation, as my heart was going nuts with excitement, I wondered if I should take it easy. I’m unlikely to do so, though; I have very few things left that affect me positively.
Now what? Tomorrow, when I wake up at around ten in the morning, I’ll try to progress on the current chapter of my novel. In the afternoon I’ll go out and take a walk unless it rains too much. All I can do is hope that whenever I come down with the next episode of atrial fibrillation, it won’t catch me on the train, or sleeping (just in case I wake up to find out I have suffered a stroke due to an untreated arrhythmia). I’ll try to finish my current story before anything even worse happens.
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