Strange Rhythms. (Part 3)
Leading up to the procedure is medication and testing. CT scans and echocardiograms, mapping of my heart for the work to be done. This was my first experience with marker dye; a strange warmth emanating outward from my heart as I heard the machine start pumping fluids into my IV while another machine whirs in circles around me. I’ll be put to sleep for another scan, this one a probe that goes down my esophagus to be closer to the heart to search for clots. I’m not much of a technology aficionado, but I’m more than happy to have it when it comes to this. I have to imagine that 30 years ago the treatment I’m currently receiving would have been out of the question.
I’ve been undergoing Warfarin treatment, an anticoagulant that will help lower my risk of stroke from clots generated by the condition or the procedure. Unfortunately, despite my feeling completely normal, Warfarin essentially turns you into a hemophiliac. I cannot risk cuts, bruises, or especially head injuries/internal bleeding. Activities that take me out of the range of immediate medical help are out, as is surfing due to concussion and cutting risks. I will be on the drug for one month leading up to the procedure and for three months after. Over the course of having my blood tested every two to three days to check its effectiveness, I’ve also found that I have difficult veins; it takes on average three or four sticks with the needle to draw blood. The joy. I look like a junky with heavy bruising in the crooks of both elbows. Fortunately my dosing appears stable and I was cleared today for being tested only once a week. It may not seem like much, but this has been a huge relief. The testing itself is not so bad, though I’m not excited about needles, it’s the fact that I’m constantly in and out of hospital waiting rooms. I’m looking forward to being off of it completely; it’s my understanding that Warfarin originated as a pesticide/rat poison. I can’t help think of the strangeness of this every time I swallow a handful of little pink pills.
It’s strange seeing my blood so thin. Lighter red in color, flowing like water. Small cuts leak for a day, needle holes from a blood draw ooze four an hour.
Surgery is fast approaching, only two days away now. I have found, as advice confirms, that reading on the internet about procedures soon to be performed on you is not helpful, will have no bearing on the outcome, and only serves to heighten one’s anxiety. I cannot say I’ve dealt with this process very well in the last few weeks, slipping into a mild depression. Combined with the Warfarin and the inability to do what I’m used to doing, especially surfing, it’s hard not to feel like something is wrong with me. It serves as a stark reminder of how attached I’ve become to the ocean in recent years. The greatest outlet that I possess for stress release is the one I can’t use…in the time I need to use it the most. While I can swim and bodysurf, I’ve mostly held off. I don’t want an injury or mishap to push my surgery date back. Once I’m through the surgery, I’m more comfortable getting back in the ocean, despite still being on Warfarin for a few months. In many ways I carry guilt that I’m not dealing with this better, thinking of all of those who go through far worse, who have to make decisions that carry far greater risks. I suppose events like this are a learning process. That’s not to say there’s no reason for me to worry, but at times I feel like I’ve been dealt a relatively easy hand compared to….
Compared to what? This is all I know. Comparisons are not helpful, yet I still exist in a mental space fluctuating between guilt and fear and trying to simply let go.
Scott Spitz of Run Fast. Run Vegan. has been a big inspiration to me over the last few weeks. I’ve read his blog for a few years and have been following his recent struggle with stomach cancer. While it feels selfish to find strength by comparing my situation to someone’s that is far worse, his story has certainly helped inspire me to begin to adopt a much more positive, fighting attitude towards what I have to undergo. His resolve is motivating.
I’ve tried my best to begin to foster a more fatalistic attitude, to stop thinking about it and just show up to do what I have to do and take it from there. Again, it is in the quiet spaces that I have a hard time; in dreams and in my thoughts while going to bed. But I am now feeling more ready to do this than I was weeks ago, if anything, to just end the waiting and anxiety. I’m ready to turn the page.