My New Reality

Please note: NOTHING I say here should be taken as if it applies to other people.  This song is about me and me only.  Any resemblance to other people’s thoughts, needs, or body issues is entirely coincidental and accidental.  

The funniest part about being in the cardiologist’s office is that I was pretty much the youngest person there.  The not-so-funny part is that a small part of my life has changed.  I feel kind of stupid being all angsty about it, because it isn’t a big deal, really, but at the same time it’s a tough thing to accept.  

So.  The short of it is: There’s no evidence of any heart trauma or heart disease.  But the doctor thinks my left atrium might be enlarged.  I’m getting an echocardiogram on Monday.  If it is enlarged, then we’ll consider blood thinners, but the doctor would prefer to avoid that if we can.  He did put me on a drug that will prevent further Afib episodes, and also treats the new diagnosis that came with all of this: hypertension, which probably caused the LAE and the Afib both.  This drug is the least dangerous one, but it’s making me a bit tired.  I’m told I’ll adjust in a few days.  I hope so.  I’m not so wiped out that I can’t function, but I don’t really want to do things, either.  

So now, like my grandfather before me, I’m on meds for my heart.  Yay?  On the one hand, he lived to be 92.  On the other hand, my mom and grandmother didn’t.  

My grandmother died when I was four years old, and she was fifty, of a heart attack.  My mother died a year or two later, at 25, also of a heart attack.  Now, there were other circumstances: both of them smoked, and my mom was majorly obese, as am I still (but shrinking relatively rapidly, thank you).  Their deaths left gaping holes in my life and childhood.  I don’t want to do that to my daughter.  

I’ve always known heart trouble was possible, but for forty-two years my heart’s been in pretty good shape.  When i was 34 I had pericarditis brought on by an immune response; they did an angiogram to be safe and the cardiologist said that despite my weight, my heart was in pretty good shape.  There were no blockages, and everything looked great.  So maybe I took that for granted, a little bit.  I’ve never been the kind to run out of breath too quickly, my slowness has always been because my knee can’t handle running long, and that was true even when I was thin.  So I managed to convince myself that I was fat, but still in relatively good shape given that weight.  

I started this diet because I wanted to be better than I am.  I was tired of my back hurting, and the other stupid body issues that come with being overweight.  And I was tired of looking in the mirror and thinking “Who the fuck are you?  How did I become this?”  And I’m happy to be shedding the pounds that were making me unhappy.  But now I have another motive, because I know that being overweight any longer increases the likelihood of more problems.  I’ve already done myself damage, but if I can get healthy again, I can at least prevent any more from developing.  And maybe I can do something about this stupid knee if I don’t keep asking it to work harder than it needs to.  And, if I’m telling the truth, I want to look in the mirror and at pictures and not feel embarassed about myself.  I’m never going to think I’m particularly handsome no matter what other people might say, but I can at least get to a point where I don’t think I’m actively UNattractive.   And most importantly, I don’t want my daughter looking at or feeling a hole where her daddy used to be. 

So I’ll take my pills, and stop feeling like I’m getting old, and just get the hell over myself.  Starting now.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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