Broken Hearted

Thursday, July 28, 2022

 The reality of what has happened still catches me off guard. My habit of minimizing my trauma, my health, my life  is being broken...slowly.  Even then there are times when the enormity of what my body has been through in nine months can pull me up short. 

When my cardiologist took my hands in March and said "You've been through a lot Dawn. This is a really big deal and you are doing everything you need to - but this was a big deal". 

I burst into tears.  Of course, I was also having symptoms of heart failure again and was terrified that my heart was saying "fuck it" and counting down. 

When I got the bed in the hospital I was there for six days? seven days? It was a long time.  I had lots of blood taken, and lots of things pushed into my IV. The ward I was in was next to the ICU - so there was a lot of monitoring.  I am an easy patient. Compliant. I stretch out arms for blood pressure and blood draws. I helpfully point out where you are most likely to get a vein. I coach folks through the fact that my veins seem to push down and disappear when you are looking for them.  (as an aside, I never thought I'd be SO familiar with my veins and how to access them). I take the meds, all the meds. 

Mostly I sat in the quiet and just waited. Terrance would arrive and sit with me for hours, then go out and make it back for a couple more hours before visiting hours were over.  I listened to things and watched out the window. Mainly though, I just lay there.  

I was so tired. Tired from the illness but tired from everything. Like every educator during Covid, I was fucking exhausted. My students were falling apart and I was trying to patch them together and teach AND do all the other pointless bullshit that comes with the professor gig.  I was keeping an admin at arms length as they failed to listen AND piled on more bullshit. I was trying to be the program director for our major and protect the faculty from some of those ridiculous asks from admin.   

Where did I find myself? Laying in a hospital bed. Again. Third year in a row! Increasing severity with every visit!  Terrance did not mince words. "This job is killing you. We have to do something about this."

I didn't have the strength to argue, and what was there to argue about? It was true. The evidence was *literally*  laying here in a hospital bed.  He began to handle HR and the FMLA debacle mainly because I was just so sick and couldn't bear to deal with the University bullshit.

On a Monday, after my echocardiogram, I woke  from a little nap to see my nurse standing over me.  She was waiting for me to wake up.  She had a diagram in her hand.

Now, nurses are the ultimate poker faces. They do not ruffle, they do not have big reactions. While this nurse was not overtly panicking, she absolutely had an air of purpose.  In truth I was not surprised to see her. My nosy ass watched the echo intently and even my amateur eyes could see that it wasn't good.  The tech can't tell you anything and mine was excellent but I mean you'd have to be blind to see that my heart was just not really pumping blood. Anywhere.  The colors that indicate direction of the blood were just kind of hanging around. My heart looked weak. Tired. 

In that, we were both aligned. 

My nurse had a diagram in a booklet and I rolled over to give her my attention. It seemed that my heart was really, really not pumping.  Not the right ventricle, and the left ventricle was particularly stubbornly refusing to participate.  My ejection fraction was so low that she suspected I might get taken into surgery right now to have a defibrillator installed.  Like Right now. 

I did not have a surgery. Surgery is always decided on in terms of cost/benefit and there was a good chance that with time and medication and diet and exercise we could avoid a surgery. However, and this is the fucking annoying thing, it would take time. A lot of time.  I was young. There was no discernible reason that my heart should have decided to take a vacation.  Maybe it would correct itself.

My low ejection fractions seem to have set off a bit of a kerfuffle in my cardiology team ( yeah, I now have a team) about whether to release me or watch me for a few more days. They compromised and kept me an extra day and then released me. 

I'd been warned about post hospital recovery and I was sure I would be fine. I mean, come on. How hard can it be? No surgery or anything - just pills and diet changes. I had been released.

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