Monday, July 17, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie Meets Greasetruck (Eventually): The A-Fib Blues

Our man at the beach returns with another cautionary tale about growing old, getting medical tape stuck to groin-area hair, and surgical adventure. This time with a twist, as sedation met inspiration. Today's post is the first of a multi-parter, wherein Fairbank writes lyrics for a different Dave to set to music and record. Stay tuned.

I’ve been saddled with heart arrhythmia, specifically atrial fibrillation, for several years. It’s not constant, it doesn’t limit activity or exercise, and I rarely feel it. Still, if left untreated, it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and other unpleasant outcomes. I’ve come to think of my heart as a family, where three or four responsible, hard-working siblings will eventually be brought down by the alcoholic brother with a couple of priors who can’t hold a job.

Which is how I found myself recently at the Norfolk Heart Hospital for Round 2 of Fun With Catheters and Electrically Charged Wires. Not to denigrate the good folks at the hospital, who are wizards that perform daily damn miracles, and in my experience, are uniformly engaging and of good cheer.

Atrial flutter and fibrillation can be treated with medicines or surgery. One isn’t superior to the others, and is often a personal choice. Meds treat the symptoms. The more invasive procedure, an ablation, is the only option that offers the chance of a permanent fix. An ablation consists of inserting a catheter into a vein in your groin area and sliding it north several inches through your hip. A small wire is snaked through the catheter, into your heart and deadens the area causing the faulty electrical impulses responsible for the arrhythmia.

Am I the only one that thinks A-Fib looks like Gonzo?
I had an ablation done 18 months prior, but that didn’t take. Further testing determined that the offending area this time was in a different heart chamber. The success rate for that particular procedure isn’t as high as the electro-cardiologist would like – 75 to 80 percent. But again, it provided the only chance at a fix, and beat the prospect of a lifetime of blood thinners and heart regulating meds. The procedure required catheters in each groin, a smaller one on the left side to check the previous ablation, and a larger one up the right side to address the current fib. The doc said afterward that early indications are that this one will take, though only time will tell whether I’m part of 3 in 4 or the less fortunate 1 in 4. After an overnight stay for observation, I was home the next day. I’m padding around for a few days, and peeling off the tape and dressings from around the groin incisions was a special moment.

Sometimes, discomfort and adversity inspire creativity. Or in my case, a frivolous diversion. With apologies to Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins, here’s a traditional style, slow blues number I wrote while laying in my hospital bed as the anesthesia wore off and I stared at my IVs and heart monitor.

                                                                A-Fib Blues
Gypsy woman told me
You won’t stammer or stutter
But you’re gonna have
An atrial flutter

Heart can’t tell
A saint from a sinner
But you’ll need a beta blocker
And a big ol’ blood thinner

Won’t do no good
To wail and shout
Just avoid sharp objects
And try not to bleed out

Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

They see this condition
All over the nation
Doc recommended
A cardiac ablation

Pretty little nurses
Gonna tend to your groin
And you don’t even have to
Give ‘em no coin

Needles and tubes stickin’ in
Guaranteed not to please ya
But you’ll catch a break
When you’re under anesthesia

They snip pulmonary vessels
And cauterize nerves
I said, please, please doctor
Don’t let your hand swerve

Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s just a quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

Recovery ain’t bad
Body’s a little off
But whatever you do
Don’t sneeze and don’t cough

Doc thinks it’s fixed
Don’t believe he’s a faker
Just hoping to avoid
Getting a pacemaker

Talked to the electro-cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues
Son, your heart’s not deliverin’
You got them atrial fibrillation bluuuues


Whitney said...

The A-Fib graphic has the coloring of Gonzo but Kermit the Frog's head shape.

zman said...

I hope Fairbank makes it to OBFT so T-Bone Walker can perform this for him.

rootsminer said...

I'll get it worked up Z. I can already hear it - a mid-tempo shuffle, with some sort of stilted turnaround to mimic the machinations of a rogue heart. This one's right in my wheelhouse.

Of course I also have to work up string band arrangements of "Blackbird", "Wild Horses" and Kanye's "All of the Lights" for a wedding next month.

rob said...

i was assuming dave/greasetruck would record this, but rootsy's version would likely be even better. no way dave could rise to that challenge.

zman said...

I see what you did there!

Whitney said...

Random Idiots used to be steeped in the blues. We can also take a crack at this. But maybe turn it into rap.

zman said...

Yoodge day here. We're all working bigly hard, too bigly to comment here.

Whitney said...

Dog days of summer have Gheorghe in the doldrums.

rob said...

today's post will fix that