I wrote this post on 1/14/2010 for my old site, following a trip home for my sister-in-law’s funeral. I’m going to transfer the domain ‘melarvie.com’ to the Relativity wife for her own site (under developement).
I’m not sure if it was the bison beef sticks or the fact that it was the tail end of a crazy five days culminating in a twelve hour drive across the midwest stopping only to pee and buy more diet coke (and not the caffeine free kind, because that kind of defeats the purpose). Perhaps it was the stress of a funeral, too little sleep, and boat loads of unhealthy food: whatever the cause, it came to pass that when my head hit the pillow at 11 pm Tuesday night, my chest grew strangely light. My heart felt like a butterfly trapped in a cage, and it wanted out; its soft wings battering the inside of my ribs, bouncing off my sternum, and flying crazy loopy-loops from one side to the other.
I recognized atrial fibrillation for what it was, irregularly irregular, and indeed it was. I laid on my right side, hooked up to my CPAP machine like a corpse on life support, counted my pulse and did the math. Around 25 beats in 15 seconds added up to about a hundred beats a minute—hmmm—could be worse. I held my breath strained, coughed, and rubbed my neck (carotid body). Nothing changed, still had the butterfly. I was freezing. I thought that maybe if I exercised I’d snap out of it, but I was bone tired, so I took a hot shower, except it wasn’t as hot as I would have liked because of some stupid safety feature I tried to undo a few months ago, but couldn’t. After a long very warm (but not hot) shower, I was still freezing, so I climbed into some flannel pajamas that must’ve had an R value of about 40. Finally, I was warm, but I still had the butterfly.
I laid on my back and did some more math. I figured if I went to the ER, I’d be admitted and monitored because it was so damn late. Morning-time would come and I’d convert medically, or electrically, and no matter what, I’d miss the talk I was supposed to give Wed. morning at 9:45 am. Well, I really didn’t want to do that, and, well, I’ve been in A-fib before, and lots of people live with A-fib (like Bill Bradley); but, true, many of them were on coumadin, which I of course was not; but, then lots of times patients come off of their coumadin for a few days before a surgical procedure; so, it’s not like I absolutely had to go in.
Besides, did I say I was bone-tired? And if I was bone-tired, Sue was even more bone-tired (boner-tired?). She didn’t even stir with all my grunting, coughing, neck rubbing, and rolling around in general, feeling sorry for myself. I wasn’t sure if having my heart history was comforting or not. It’s not like I had a heart monitor at home. I mean, it felt like atrial fibrillation; but what if it was V-tach with some PVC’s messing up the regularity? What if it was only irregular and not irregularly irregular?
I laid on my back, done with all the math, not sure if the butterfly would let me sleep. It was 12:04 am. My CPAP was strangely comforting, and unlike years before, when I wondered how I could ever sleep with it, I now wonder how I could ever sleep without it. As I lay there, the possibility of not waking up did occur to me, and for some reason, I did not find that thought particularly frightening. I imagined myself in a casket, wearing my dark navy suit with a white shirt and blue-striped tie; skin smooth and unblemished, hands folded, left third finger graced with the second of my three wedding rings. I suppose my thoughts were secondary to the visitation and funeral we had just attended over the four preceding days. It didn’t seem so bad—to be on the other side, I mean. So, I lay there, my butterfly fluttering quietly, and I prayed, If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.
When I next opened my eyes, the clock read 6:22 am, and my butterfly whispered from inside my chest, Good morning sunshine.