Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie: The Heart Wants What It Wants

This is actually post-retirement Dave Fairbank
I’m back in rhythm, or at least my heart is. The rest of me remains beat and rhythm challenged as ever, my affection for George Clinton and ‘70s era funk and soul notwithstanding.

Following an outpatient hospital visit that included a sizeable memory gap, my heart was shocked back in line and now pumps away like a little metronome. I’m told it was routine and not terribly dramatic, which I would argue is the case involving other people’s hearts.

This all started several weeks ago when a physical exam revealed something called an atrial flutter. My heart was beating out of rhythm, increasing the risk of clots and strokes and various unpleasant outcomes.

I showed up at the local hospital bright and early, because the staff had to get to the Halloween party upstairs. They first did a transesophogeal echocardiography test, basically an ultrasound where a tube is inserted down your throat so that a clearer photo of your heart chambers and valves can be taken. If no clots are found, they perform an electrical cardioversion: a small jolt to try to get the heart back in rhythm. They attached two oblong patches, one to my chest, the other to my side, hooked up to, I think the technical term for it is, a contraption.

I was given a two drug combo of Versed and Fentanyl. Versed induces sleep and relaxation, and is an anti-anxiety drug that can cause loss of memory during traumatic experiences, which would be helpful for Kansas football fans and many 7th-graders. Fentanyl is a narcotic and heavy duty pain reliever.

In combination, the drugs are supposed to produce something called conscious sedation or “twilight sleep,” where you feel nothing but can follow directions and believe that Kristen Stewart is a capable actress. They worked as advertised. I was out. Gone. I recall nothing. There were a half-dozen people in the room with me before the procedure. When I woke up, maybe 60-75 minutes later, there was just a very pleasant cardio nurse to monitor me. I assume there’s a photo in the nurses’ break room of ferrets eating Fig Newtons off of my lifeless torso, with the staff mugging it up in the background.

I was a little groggy when I awoke, but lucid enough to ask how the procedure went. The nurse said it went well. No clots in the chambers or valves. They performed one jolt, and the heart responded. 


Honestly, the most unpleasant part of the entire procedure was a nurse depressing my tongue into gag territory and spraying a foul, metallic-tasting local anesthetic into the back of my throat, multiple times, to deaden the area for when they inserted the tube. Afterward, my throat didn’t feel bad, just a bit raw. All in all, the entire ordeal was about as seamless as it gets, for a major organ and electrical charges.

I went home and slept for a couple hours, apparently mindless of the dog barking. I’ve felt fine since. Hell, I felt fine before, unaware of my condition and the associated risks.

Though my heart is back in rhythm, the procedure doesn’t come with a warranty. There’s no guarantee that it won’t lapse back into arrhythmia at some point. I’ll go back for regular checkups and EKGs and such. In the meantime, they said live your life, do what you normally do. If you experience any chest pains or dizziness or symptoms associated with a heart flutter or fibrillation, come see us.

I was advised not to take drugs or medicines that stimulate the heart. No cocaine, amphetamines, diet pills, caffeine or nicotine. Sure, it’s easy to cut back on Diet Coke and the occasional Jagerbomb, but when you take away a man’s Adderal and Benzedrine, well, now you’re making it tough.


zman said...

Uh! The rhythm the rebel, don't believe the hype, yes yes yes, don't know we can do it, here we go again. Fairbanks gonna work it out.

No Emily Dickinson tag?

TR said...

Cocaine's a helluva drug.

Marls said...

Ferrets like fig newtons? Challenge.

Marls said...

Rob, I know you are upset about Black, Dick. If it makes you feel any better at least the voters of Fairfax county rejected Arthur Purves for county supervisor. His website contained the following:

While a social conservative, Arthur tries to understand all points of view. Social conservatives believe that gays are undermining marriage and that the gay lifestyle is promiscuous. Gays reply that most are not promiscuous and that there is plenty of heterosexual promiscuity. The gay view is, at least in part, that they have been persecuted for centuries for feelings they did not choose to have. Gay advocates say that same-sex marriages work and can successfully raise children, who are not necessarily gay, and that a California law allowing transgenders in opposite-sex bathrooms has been a non-issue. With the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the U.S. has begun an unprecedented high-risk social experiment that will eventually validate or invalidate these assertions. Arthur had believed though that same-sex attractions and transgender feelings were something that could be "prayed away," but now recognizes that for most this is not true and that these feelings can begin at a very young age.

zman said...

In other local VA politics news, Glen Sturtevant won in VA's 10th district. Glen's a good guy and I'm happy for him, even though he's a fan of amend. II.

rob said...

my daughter had to walk a friend of hers to the school counselor's office today and tell the counselor that the friend had taken a handful of pills in what she claimed was a suicide attempt. the friend was taken to the hospital and had her stomach pumped. that's some real-life shit that i'm not ready to have my 14 year-old have to handle. from all accounts, she handled it with more maturity than i'd have given her credit for. impossibly fucked up.

Dave said...

yikes. good for her, though, coming through in the clutch like that.

Danimal said...

Damn. Did your daughter witness it? Regardless....good work there Rob.

zman said...

A co-worker's 14 year old committed suicide recently, I think some bullying was involved. It's hard to be a kid these days in ways we can never completely understand. Nice job by yours.

zman said...

I came here to note that Lebron and Love appear to have taken an unfair head start on their Movember staches but that seems insignificant in light of rob's comment.

rob said...

i hope someone has some high-grade dipshittery for friday, 'cause i ain't exactly lightening the mood with tomorrow's rantpost.

Squeaky said...

Can you get that twilight sleep concoction over the counter? It probably would have helped me the last few weeks. But maybe they have it over the counter in Aruba.

The suicide thing is crazy at that age but things come at these kids some much quicker than when we were younger. Rob, your daughter is awesome just knowing when and how to help.

My get off my lawn rant would be about some stupid first grade classmate of our sons' telling him about slender man. And him then drawing about it in school. I mean wtf. And the teachers love when that happens.

Musicly, check out the new El VY album. Some good tunes. The voice should sound very familiar to most you.

Marls said...

Hi Dave.