The Old Apartment

Some time after my fourth heart surgery, I was finally allowed to start having a normal life again. I did what I should have done almost a year earlier and dumped my boyfriend, T, and moved out.

We had both been biding our time since I had initially gotten sick. Sometimes an illness can bring people together and bring out the best in someone. For, T, my illness was a huge hassle.

He hated everyone always wanting to talk about me. He hated having to visit me in the hospital (and didn’t do it very often). And he hated the way I wasn’t fun anymore. I could barely walk for months.

My sickness was probably the worst thing to ever happen to him. But I get it, we weren’t in love. Dating me was fine when I was fun, but when things got too real, he couldn’t handle it.

To be honest, our relationship was the worst I have ever been in. And I have been in some bad ones. Being sick kept me there as I literally was not capable of leaving. We were together for almost 4 years.

When I moved out, I was broke and physically very weak still. I had missed a lot of work and it took a financial toll. I needed some place cheap.

I was so broke that for that entire year, I would have to make a decision when buying my groceries. I could splurge on one thing a week. I usually had to decide if I wanted strawberries or lasagna. Strawberries won most weeks.

 

Yum! Food porn!

 

I was 27 and had never lived alone before. I always had a roommate or a boyfriend. And I had gotten rid of all my furniture when I moved in with T.

I found a furnished apartment across the street from the beach in a fairly bad neighborhood. It was a basement apartment in a house that had been converted into 3 apartments.

Basement apartments are almost unheard of in Florida, and this one was on a sloping property. The windows in the living room and bathroom were on the level with the ground. It was under 500 sq ft. Maybe even under 400 sq ft.

The ceilings were only 7ft, which is freakily low for someone over 6ft tall like me. Being on the beach meant everything was always wet. I had to mop the ceiling with bleach on a regular basis to keep the mold growth down.

The living room was the length of a couch and had a TV on the opposite wall, 5 ft away. The bathroom was smaller than a walk in closet. And I am pretty sure the building was built on an ancient ant burial ground. It was haunted with the ghosts of thousands of ants. I would find their corpses in piles, like tiny snowdrifts, all over the apartment. When I first moved in had thought their small crunching bodies were actually beach sand blown or tracked in.

 

They were mostly concentrated in the bathroom for some reason.

 

This was also where I had to take my laundry to a laundromat once a week. I know I have mentioned it several times. It was next to a seedy beachside bar.

But the price was right. The door locked. And I was safe inside. I had my first apartment.

There were two other apartments in the same house as me. The one directly above me was empty for the whole year I lived there. Sometimes at night I would lie in bed and hear things moving around up there. I blamed it on my disturbingly vivid imagination.

In the other apartment there lived three Czechoslovakian people. Two were married to each other and the third was a female friend.  I said hello to the friend a few times. None of them spoke English. After a few months I stopped seeing the wife. The husband and the friend had been having an affair and the wife moved back home to the Czech Republic.

There was an abandoned hotel across the street. It was a towering building about 40 stories, right on the beach. There were broken windows and on breezy days I could see the curtains waving in some of the rooms. It was like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. I heard hobos would break in and squat in the lower levels. I never wanted to find out.

 

Pretty similar to this creepy thing.

 

Directly in front of my apartment was an empty lot. It was fenced off and for sale. Another condo waiting to be built. The lot was white sand, broken glass, and sand spurs. I could see the ocean between the buildings.

There was a house next to mine, on the other side of a private road. The set up was similar to my house. Several people lived in that basement apartment. They would sit outside drinking and smoking all night, every night.

A few days after moving in, I smelled the unmistakable smell of meth coming from that apartment. I knew the smell well as some neighbors had a meth lab at a previous apartment with a previous boyfriend. When they got busted, the cops said it was the largest meth lab they had ever seen. I quickly decided to avoid those neighbors.

I actually loved living there. I loved the freedom of being alone. I recovered well and gained back a lot of the strength I had lost during the past year.

When Christmas rolled around I was dating a new guy, M. He had lived in Japan for several years and was always talking about the buckwheat pillows they used there. I decided to buy him one for Christmas.

 

I find them uncomfortable.

 

One day, just before the holiday, I saw that my pillow had been delivered and that a neighbor had signed for it. I brought the tag over to the new Czech couple, but they pretended to not know what I was talking about.

I was confused and upset. The pillow hadn’t been cheap. And now someone had stolen it. I had no other neighbors that could have signed for it and I had no other gift for M.

One of the meth neighbors came running over as I trudged down the hill back to my apartment. He was clearly doing meth. The skin condition is unmistakable.

“Hey! We signed for a box for you today! Come on over and get it.”

I was hesitant to go into their apartment. What if the police chose that exact moment to bust them? Would I be taken to jail? Would I get fired?

I reluctantly followed him across the street. I waited in the living room while he went back into his bedroom to get it. I have no idea why it was in his bedroom. There were about 6 people in this dimly lit living room. People were lying on couches, chairs, the floor. Every surface was covered with bodies. And they all smelled awful.

The guy gave me my box and asked if I wanted to stay and have a drink. I practically ran from that apartment.

A few days later, I was making cookies to take to work. I created my own peanut butter cookie recipe that is amazing. My cookies are so good, that one time I had brought them to work and someone stole them off someone else’s desk and it turned into this huge investigation. HR was brought in for a resolution.  It was insane.

 

 

HR resolution cookies.

 

I decided to make a few to bring to my meth neighbors. I thought it would be a nice thank you to them since they had kept my package safe.

I made a dozen to bring to them. I used my fanciest homemaker skills and wrapped them in a white linen napkin and tied it with a fancy bow. I brought them over to my neighbors.

 

I’m capable of being pretty fancy.

They thanked me and after that would give me enthusiastic hellos anytime they saw me. But they never returned my napkin.

 

UPDATED: I’m including the recipe for Jana. But I am going to assume you guys know how to make cookies, in general.

 

1 stick butter (softened)

1 1/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. white sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/4 c. flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

peanut butter chips

 

Refrigerate batter for an hour before rolling into balls and cooking for 10 min at 375.

 

If any of you make them, let me know how you like them!

This I Believe

I have the worst writer’s block right now. I keep staring at that blinking cursor. I have so many stories left to tell. But the words are not coming out the way I want.

 

Instead I thought I would share an essay I wrote for NPR. It was for a project called This I Believe. I was 27 and had had 3 heart surgeries in the past year. I went on to have 2 more after writing this.

I still feel this way about my life. I try not to be too serious on here. Or too much in anyone’s face about religion, optimism, or personal philosophies. I genuinely believe all my problems and troubles have made me a better person. And definitely a more understanding one. And that optimism is something I cannot help or control any more than I can stop being tall or having brown eyes.

 

I hate my older writings. I try to avoid even reading it. But, I actually still like this. NPR did put it in their archives somewhere. It isn’t funny, at all. Feel free to skip it and wait for my next post which will hopefully be funnier. Here it is:

 

 

My family was quite poor when I was a child. And I was always acutely aware of the expense I caused my parents. Out of seven children, I was always the one who needed things. I used to wonder, why me?

At six it was speech therapy, I had a tongue abnormality. At eight it was braces, I had a jaw deformity. At eleven it was glasses. And last year, at twenty-six, it was heart surgery, I had a heart defect.

Actually it was multiple heart surgeries. At this moment in my life; the cardiologist isn’t sure of my prognosis. Will I need more heart surgeries? Will I need to be on medication for the rest of my life? Will I die?

At first I wanted to be mad at someone. It wasn’t fair. But I don’t believe in God, and I don’t feel like I can blame my parents. (Even though they sometimes blame themselves).

Instead I came to a realization. Bad things will happen in my life, and so will good. I can learn from the bad, or not. And I can appreciate the good, or not. Whichever I please. But this I believe. My life will be as good as I want it to be. Or as bad as I allow it to be.

My perspective in life determines the type of life I lead. Now sometimes I wonder, why me? And then I think of how much I have changed for the better since my heart surgeries. I’m more aware of social issues and I care about them more. I volunteer. I’ve taken steps to live a more mindful and environmentally friendly lifestyle. I’m kinder to my friends, family, and strangers. I’m more forgiving. I even tip more. Why me? Well, why not me?

Tattoos

My brother T, sister J, and I had all agreed we would get matching tattoos when we were growing up. I kind of forgot about the agreement as I figured none of us would be able to agree on an image.

 

My brother went to Europe for a summer when I was 20-ish. When he came back he had a tattoo. As soon as J and I saw it, we knew it was the one. J went out and got hers immediately.

 

But I hesitated. I didn’t know where to get it, or what color. And then I was suddenly 26 and having heart surgery and taking blood thinners and was not allowed to get any tattoos.

 

So, now, I am no longer on blood thinners and not in any danger from my health issues.

 

I took a week off work this week (which has been amazing). On Wednesday, I was hanging out with my brother, T, and casually mentioned that I finally had a few days off and could go get my tattoos. I have had two planned out for over a year.

 

T told me that he had the card of a tattoo artist that only booked appointments with people that were referred by people he already worked with. We happened to be less than a mile away.

 

We met with the artist, A, who was extremely cool and friendly. And I scheduled to come back the next day.

 

I was finally going to get my first tattoo. I was so excited that the adrenaline started hurting my veins. I started feeling nauseous and couldn’t sleep Wednesday night.

 

But I got them done on Thursday. So here they are.

 

The first is a heartbeat. Not just any heartbeat. It is MY first heartbeat after my last heart surgery. It was my first ECG with a normal heartbeat. I have wanted this one for almost two years.

20140328_182634 - Copy

Love!

 

 

The second is the one that my brother and sister also have. It is an ouroboros from Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a manga TV show that my brother is really into. I like the show too. But more so, I like ouroboros. They are heavily associated with ancient mythology and alchemy. They are supposed to symbolize the cyclical nature of life.

 

How impressively  freckle-y am I? And I am not even the freckle-y one in he family!

How impressively freckle-y am I? And I am not even the freckle-y one in he family!



I am already planning my next ones. Probably Harry Potter and LOTR related.

 

I expected it to hurt a lot more than it did. I was so nervous and freaking out. I was actually shaking! I know after having heart surgery you would think it would be no big deal.

The one on my wrist at worst felt like being stung by a hornet. The one on my back actually tickled in a few places. And I love the way the vibrations from the tattoo gun were reverberating in my chest. Afterwards, it just felt warm. And now it doesn’t hurt at all.

 

Sorry for not posting something more interesting, but I am excited about them. Also, did I mention being on vacation?

Suppository

After this post, I figured I may as well bite the bullet and finish what I started. So, here you go, the next humiliating thing that happened on that hospital stay.

Two days after the fingering incident, the hospital and my doctor were interested in releasing me to go home and recover in the comfort of my own bed. Where the TV  isn’t censored. It’s a religious hospital and I can only go so long without seeing adult language, adult content, and nudity.

Displaying 20130613_033839.jpg

I took this beauty from the same chain of hospitals. I wish I had taken a picture of the 20 foot tall mosaic at my hospital. I may go back and get one. It’s worth it.

Some of you may not know this, but you aren’t allowed to leave the hospital after a surgery until you have a *ahem* bowel movement. (I won’t be offended if you choose to skip this post and move on to the next one).

The problem was that I was not having one. Between the reaction to the morphine, the physical pain, the emotional humiliation, the medicines, and the terrible cardiac ward food, nothing was forthcoming.

Every time the nurse came in she would check the toilet to see if I had had one. Because in the hospital you are not a trustworthy adult. You are a petulant child that must shit into a pan to get released.

Another day went by. Waiting to be released from the hospital is exactly how I imagine hell to be (if it existed). You are in serious pain. They wake you up every few hours all day and night to poke you with needles and press on your wounds painfully so you never get a goddamn minute of sleep. They humiliate you. There is no much bullshit and red tape. And then, you can’t leave. Ever!

Finally the nurse came in to talk to me directly. This was the same one from the fingering story and she had been avoiding me in an obvious and humorous way. She told me that it had been 4 days with no movements and it might be a good idea to take a suppository.

I didn’t know what she meant by a suppository, I mean, I knew what one was. But I thought that’s how you gave pills to horses and how teenagers get really fucked up on ecstasy.

Fun fact: A suppository can be administered not just up the anus but also in the vagina or the urethra for men. You’re welcome.

For my five male readers; there you go, gentleman.

But she was talking about giving me some kind of stool softener suppository to help me “go” so I could get the hell out of the hospital. I really really did not want to do this. But I wanted to go home more.

She got me the suppository. It was huge! Which I guess makes sense because it’s not like I was trying to swallow it.

Like a fucking missile!

I went into the bathroom. Remember the whole serious agony/heart surgery thing? Yeah, there was no way I could contort myself to get this pill in my own ass. I could still barely bend at my hip bones.

I’m glad I got to use this picture.

I called the nurse back and told her the situation. The look on her face was one I will treasure for many long years to come. I swear to you, I could read her mind at that exact moment. And she was thinking “Seriously, bitch? I already had to root around in your nasty vagina. Now I have to put my hand up your ass? Fuck this job.”

But instead she tried to convince me that I really could do it if I just tried harder. And I assured her that there was no fucking way I could bend like that without re-opening my wounds.

I did not feel the slightest bit bad for her. This was her job. And if anyone was going to be embarrassed it was me. And I had instead chosen to find it all very hilarious. But that may have been the drugs I was on.

At this point, A stepped in. He offered to do it.

I tried to talk him out of it, mostly to fuck with the nurse. But he was very insistent on putting that suppository in my ass (you men, so obsessed with anal).

So we went back into the bathroom and he assisted me. I assume nobody wants the gory details of this, it was pretty straightforward anyway.  I have never taken anything for constipation before or since. But I can say it definitely works as intended. I was released later that day.

Of course, I developed a huge hematoma and had to go back in to the hospital almost immediately, but that is a story for another day.

Bursting of the dam

I haven’t posted anything about my period or my vagina in a few weeks. But brace yourselves, people. The shame is strong with this one.

My fifth and most recent heart surgery took place just over two years ago. It was noteworthy in several ways. It was my fifth one. I had been chosen to participate in a clinical trial for a new type of catheter that had sense receptors on it. They were going to burn through my right heart atrium and into my left for the first time. And I was in my first few months of a new relationship with A. We all know how that turned out.

It’s not like burning holes in your heart is serious or anything.

My other four surgeries had been some of the worst experiences of my life. This one would turn out to be my worst. Because of the added procedure and the sheer quantity I had had by this point, they stressed very heavily that I could die.

I was at a crossroads. I could take medication that controlled my heart, but the medication was newly approved and there had been no research into the long term side effects. There was an extreme likelihood that I would die from liver failure in about 20 years. When I was 47. And I’d be on very expensive drugs forever. Missing even one dose caused serious heart problems.

Liver, shmiver. Am I right?

I was taking so many drugs that I had to set up multiple alarms set throughout the day. Or I could choose the surgery. It might work. It might kill me. It might not work and I’d still have to take the drugs. I decided that I would rather die sooner than later.

I had been on my period for three other surgeries, and it was no surprise to anyone that I was on it for this one too. As mentioned here, I use the Diva Cup. It is a little tiny silicone plunger that catches everything. It is comfortable and clean and good for your body and the environment. (Still no endorsement forthcoming).

Best thing ever invented for periods besides chocolate.

When I was wheeled into the operating room at 5am, I told the head nurse that I was on my period, I was using the cup, etc. She said she would note my chart and if I was under for more than 8 hours they would remove it for me.

I thanked her and didn’t know anything else for a long time. I came to in the recovery room. I have a post waiting to be written about the recovery room, but let’s just say this: It is the last place I would feel okay for several days. And I wanted to make it last. I spent two hours in there.

But, finally, they had to take me to my room. When I got to my room, my mother and A were anxiously waiting for me. What I didn’t realize was that my surgery had taken 18 hours. Plus 2 hours in recovery. They hadn’t seen me in over 20 hours. They were frazzled. But to me, it was around two hours. That surgery time is lost forever.

However, while they felt fine. Maybe tired and anxious. I wanted to die. I am not joking when I say this. For the 24-48 hours after every single one of my surgeries, I seriously wish I had died during it. It is the most miserable and in pain I have ever been in my life.

After this type of surgery, you are not allowed to move the lower half of your body, at all, for 24 hours. Not even to shift positions to get more comfortable. Whatever position the nurses put you in on your hospital bed is how you stay for the duration. And obviously, you aren’t getting up to urinate. Bed pans all the way. In fact, you can’t even wipe yourself.

This particular surgery is when we found out that not only does morphine do absolutely nothing for my pain, it makes me extremely nauseated. But they couldn’t give me something for my nausea in case I vomited it back up. And they couldn’t give me something for my pain in case I overdosed on morphine plus a second pain-killer.

Also, they apparently thought only drug addicts are immune to morphine. Not so!

Cue 5 hours of intense agony and bawling pain. And a healthy dose of abject, helpless nausea. Finally, when it turned out I wasn’t going to vomit (5 hours later) they gave me something for my nausea.

I was feeling a little better and the pain wasn’t consuming my every thought. I finally thought to ask the nurse where my Diva Cup was. I didn’t feel like I was using a pad, but honestly, I might not have noticed.

The nurses checked my chart and found that the head nurse (despite saying she would) had left no notes. The searched the operating room, nothing. They searched the gurney I had been wheeled in on, nothing. They searched the room, nothing.

There was only one place left to search. My vagina.

The nurse came in and sent my mother and A out. She lifted the sheets and my gown and started probing around in my vagina. It was in there.

I was starting to freak out. For those of you bad at math, this was only supposed to be in for 8 hours tops and we were going on 26. Not to mention the fact that I was on blood thinners and the blood wasn’t going anywhere.

She reached in and tried to pull it out. But she couldn’t figure out how it worked. I tried to explain that you had to fold in the wall to break the seal, but she couldn’t get it. After a few minutes of fumbling around in my vagina, she called in backup.

A second nurse came in and they turned on the brightest overhead light ever. It was like an old timey police interrogation and my vagina was the suspect. They pulled good cop, bad cop on my vagina. But their efforts were a waste of time.

Where were you on the night of December 11, 2010?

They were just tugging on it, trying to yank it out. Not only was I in agony, but it felt like they were jerking on my entrails.

This is something I have done to myself millions of times, but I couldn’t move to get to it without opening my wounds. It was a serious issue because I had lost a lot of blood during the procedure. I had already heard mention of a blood transfusion.

They covered me up and called in my mother and A. They explained the situation and I explained how to get the fucking thing out for the third time. My mother rolled up her sleeves and offered to give it the old college try.

My mother has long fingernails. She reached up there and began probing around. I stared up into the light. Wishing myself into unconsciousness. Or at least hoping to blind myself so that I would never have to make eye contact with her ever again. But she also failed.

Finally, A stepped in. He is a very large guy with big lumberjack hands. He did a few quick warm up stretches and dove in like a pro. At this point, I was beyond pain, beyond embarrassment, beyond any sense of shame. This was the fourth person that had put their hand in my vagina in the past 30 minutes.

He finally realized what the problem was. For all the genius of the Diva Cup, they were meant to be removed while sitting or squatting, not lying down. My pelvic bone was blocking it’s passage. But he was determined to succeed.

He thrust and parried, trying to vanquish this worthy foe that had defeated so many others. Finally, with one great lunge, the cup was pulled out. It was like the demolition of a dam. Everything was now soaked with blood.

Brace yourselves!

They cleaned me up and changed my sheets through a long and arduous process. I was free.

And that is how, less than two days after their initial meeting, my mother and ex boyfriend both fingered me while in the same room together, at the same time.

Grey Out, Black Out

Sometimes smart people do very stubborn and dangerous things. Usually those stubborn things involve doctors or dentists. These days I am very conscientious about my health. But that wasn’t always the case.

 

My senior year of high school, I was 17 and walking out to the parking lot at the end of the school day. I was in excellent physical shape and not doing anything remotely exertive. I started feeling weird.

 

I can’t even describe that initial feeling to you. I couldn’t tell what was going on. I just felt…tired. So I sat down for a few minutes. The feeling passed and I never bothered with mentioning it to anyone.

 

The following year, in Miami, I was working in an unventilated storage unit. It was hot and humid and miserable and I started feeling a bit dizzy. So I sat down and again the feeling passed. I figured I was just overheated and again promptly forgot about it.

 

After a few episodes similar to this, my symptoms started to escalate. I began to have the sensation of my vision tunneling. The tunneling began to be followed by a complete grey out. The edges of my vision would darken and begin to contract until I couldn’t see anything. But I was still conscious. It even happened a few times while I was driving.

This is from Wikipedia and is exactly what it looked like. Except for the cows.

This is from Wikipedia and is exactly what it looked like. Except for the cows.

 

Yes, I am saying that I would sometimes be driving, in a moving vehicle, completely blind. And I doubt I am the only one this has happened to. It’s a kind of terrifying thought.

 

By the way, this phenomenon is a common occurrence in aircraft test pilots.

 

But I didn’t think too much of it by that point. I had grown accustomed to these weird experiences. I still didn’t think they were serious enough to inspire me to even schedule a doctor’s appointment.

 

Until it started getting really bad. One day A (my bf at the time) found me collapsed and leaning against the side of the house after doing some yardwork.

 

So I scheduled an appointment with a general practitioner. He couldn’t see me for two weeks, but there was no rush. I assumed it was my blood sugar giving me issues.

 

But my situation escalated faster than I could have predicted. The next day I was at work, driving down a very busy major road. I was in the far right hand lane of a six lane highway.

 

Suddenly, my vision began to tunnel. My face was getting warm and I could both feel and hear the blood circulating in my head. My heartbeat felt like it was pulsating in my brain. I started having trouble breathing. I had never felt an episode with so much intensity before. And then, I completely lost consciousness.

 

When I woke up, I had crossed four lanes of traffic. I was in the left hand turn lane. I was inches away from the guardrail. The guardrail that surrounded a 12 foot deep, water filled median.

But it kind of felt like this.

But it kind of felt like this.

I somehow had not hit anyone. But I was really scared. So scared I began to cry. I didn’t drive again for four months.

My doctor agreed to see me the next day. I lost consciousness twice the next morning trying to get ready for the appointment.

 

But I was still so sure it was my blood sugar. Eating always made me feel better after an episode. I could not have even begun to imagine what else it could have been…

 

It never occurred to me for even one second that I had a serious heart problem and was having a series of mini strokes. It turns out it didn’t occur to my doctor either.

 

When my blood sugar tested fine he told me I was just having panic attacks. But not to worry, “lots of women have them.” Yes, he literally said that to me. I was floored, and went from zero to bitch in 0.3 seconds.

 

I explained to him that while I was sure lots of women had panic attacks, I was not having them. I demanded that he run more tests and refused to leave his office. Unfortunately, when I get really upset I get teary eyed and start to shake.

 

I was terrified he was going to send me away and I was going to die. Or worse, black out again while I was driving and kill someone.

 

When the doctor saw me crying and upset he decided to change his tactic. He pulled me into a back room with a female nurse and asked me if I was being abused. I was in an abusive relationship, but again, that wasn’t the issue at hand.

 

Finally, he ran an EKG on me. Mostly, I think to exhaust every option to satisfy my bitch-o-meter.

An EKG, but way more healthy than mine.

An EKG, but way more healthy than mine.

When the EKG printed out the results, he visibly paled. He handed me the printout and told me to “go immediately to the hospital. If you don’t have your purse or insurance information, go without it. Do not stop to eat, do not go by your home, do not go shopping. Go to the hospital.”

 

I was scared and upset and worried that I was dying. But also? I felt vindicated. Having a panic attack, huh? What a misogynistic asshole he was! But who had the last laugh?

 

That’s right, me. I said there was something wrong with me. And not only was there something wrong with me. There was something seriously wrong with me. In your face, Dr. Asshole.

Needless to say, that douche immediately stopped being my primary care physician.

Stress Test

In between the first two of my heart surgeries I had about a month and a half of downtime. All of it spent at home. Waiting for the blood thinners to kick in to the right level to make it safe to have another heart surgery.

 

It was a rough time.

 

Especially since I was still having serious physical issues. So serious that some days I literally could not stand up without blacking out. I would have to crawl to get to the bathroom.

 

I couldn’t drive at this point in my life, obviously. I couldn’t even walk. So I had to convince people to drive me around. But it wasn’t actually that hard. People tend to pity you when you have heart surgery.

 

One day, my little sister came to pick me up to drive me to the cardiologist’s so I could get my blood levels checked. It was a particularly bad day. It was one of those days where I couldn’t stand.

 

While we were driving to the doctor’s office I started feeling really really bad. My breathing started to get ragged and my sister started freaking out. She could see my heart pounding through my t-shirt.

 

We called my nurse and asked if we should go straight to the hospital. I was having trouble breathing. But she said to just come to the doctor’s office.

 

When we got there, my sister had to get me a wheelchair and wheel me in across the parking lot. By the way, if you have motion sickness (like me) never use a wheelchair if you can help it.

 

Before you start feeling too bad for me, you should know something. When I am feeling that badly physically, I feel incredible emotionally and mentally. It’s probably the lack of oxygen going to my brain. But I feel amazing I am cheerful and happy and upbeat. I tend to make a lot of jokes. The nurses over there love me. I am the youngest, happiest person they see.

 

The nurse checked my stats. My heart rate was so high the EKG couldn’t track it. My blood pressure was 60/30. The nurse felt my pulse and said it was somewhere over 200 bpm.

 

She left the room to cry away from my sister and I. She thought I was dying and didn’t want to upset us.  It turns out I was only having a stroke.

 

My cardiologist came in and told me that I needed to go to the hospital. But first, he wanted to do a stress test. I had never done one before. And being super high and hilarious in my delirious state; I couldn’t refuse. I was ready for any adventure, as long as I could do it lying down.

 

So they injected me with some crazy shit to do a chemical stress test. My heart began beating even more rapidly. I was sweating. I still couldn’t breathe and now I couldn’t talk.

 

My sister was sitting in the room. Watching me. There were several nurses I didn’t know. One I did. And my cardiologist.

 

My cardiologist began rubbing my throat. It felt really weird. I remember thinking this is what you do to a cat to get it to swallow medicine. But the medicine I was getting was via an IV.

 

I’m going to level with you here. I was 100% convinced that I was dying. I’d already had two heart surgeries by this point and I knew what abject misery and pain felt like. This was different.

 

I couldn’t talk. All I could do was look my little sister in the eyes and wonder how scarring it was going to be for her to watch me die. Because I was dying, guys. Really and truly.

 

Once I could speak again, the nurse that injected me asked, “How do you feel?”

 

And I told her. “After both of my heart surgeries I wished I had died on the operating table because I felt so awful. If I had had the energy and ability to kill myself, I genuinely would have. And this is the worst I have ever felt in my entire life. I didn’t think it was possible to feel worse than I did after those previous surgeries. And you have proven me wrong today.”

 

Then they called the paramedics. The were both young and super friendly and I asked them if they would pull a sheet over my head when they wheeled me out through the crowded doctor’s office lobby. They wouldn’t. Those guys don’t like to joke about death.

 

I got to ride in an ambulance, across the street, to “my” hospital.

 

When I got there, I was like returning royalty. The charge nurses remembered me. I was the only woman on the entire cardiac floor. And also the only patient under 60. But the high point of this experience was my cardiologist making the hospital let me wear my street clothes instead of a gown.

And also, being high from almost dying.