Wednesday, August 09, 2006

this is a serious post. no humor whatsoever. in fact, not even readable.

By all accounts I've been pushing myself too hard lately. First it was the arts fair last weekend, and then the teenager came home and naturally we had to take him out to dinner to celebrate, and from there we sailed right on in to the week with our usual flurry of excitement, entering our exhibits in the county fair and et cetera, etc. I had to go to the Fair Monday night to see how our entries fared; of course. And then I had to go back Tuesday night to see how the middle child's entry (the only one that got overlooked the first day) placed. Of course.

I enjoy seeing my children have fun. I try to keep up with everything it is that they get involved in, and do. I have this fear they'll remember me later as someone fragile, someone they had to constantly worry about, so I downplay my health as much as possible. (What, I'm great! C'mon, let's go see what there is to look at over here.)

I shouldn't have taken the younger two children on a ride Monday night. I really shouldn't have done it. Even my mother is accusing me now of having a death wish. But truthfully the four-year-old wanted to so badly, and the lines were so long, that I really believed my husband would have enough time to take the teenager on Zero Gravity and then come back and escort the younger two through Dizzy Dragons. I can be a sort of... placeholder until he gets back, I reasoned. No problem.

As we neared the entrance gate it dawned on me, a little bit uneasily, that I'd maybe placed a little too much faith in the rhythm of things. Since my husband was still nowhere to be found and I was edging uncomfortably toward a big black and white sign which read:



But. (Now that everyone's angry with me for getting on it anyway.) What was I supposed to do? The kids wanted to ride and I wanted to be able to ride it with them. The whole thing when you have a pacemaker or a defibrillator or whatever; is you want to be able to live your life still. Isn't that the point? You can't stay inside your house and never go out because something might happen. It's not like I was going bungee jumping. I just wanted to keep up with my kids.

Still: "I have a bad feeling about this," I murmured, very much like Obi-Wan Kenobi in any of the Star Wars movies, and a lady ahead of me in line turned and reassured me: "Oh, it doesn't really spin that fast. You get to control it once it starts -- you can spin the wheel or leave it alone. It's really not as bad as it looks."

Seemed reasonable.

So somehow I ended up with a six-year-old and a suddenly petulant four-year-old on a great big purple dragon hollowed out to accomodate three or four people around a giant metal disc coming up out of the center of the floor, the four-year-old standing rigid and screaming: I WANT THE GREEN DRAGON! THE GREEN ONE!

So of course naturally the other Dragons had already filled up and no one is going to voluntarily get off the rides again and switch me for the Green one just because a four-year-old deems it should be so. So I had to hiss through smiling teeth that clearly indicate I'm-annoyed-but-you-aren't-winning: "Okay! We're riding! Wave to everybody! WE'RE RIDING THE DIZZY DRAGONS! GOSH BUT WE'RE HAVING SO MUCH FUN!"

Then the ride lurched into action and the four-year-old went flying across the bow like a mess of badly thrown slip on a pottery wheel. I caught him just in time, but his sandals fell off and he was clearly upset with the way things were working out. He wasn't the only one, but my main objectives at the time were:
  1. Keep child from flying out opening of dragon's belly
  2. Delay myocardial infarction until after ride has stopped, as instantaenous death would interfere greatly with objective #1.
The four-year-old is kicking and screaming, literally, and I was shouting to the six-year-old, "Don't, honey, please don't spin the wheel! I'll pay you a dollar, I'll pay you five dollars, just DON'T TOUCH THE WHEEL! PLEASE!" (kick-kick-kick from four-year-old).

The six-year-old shouted back: "You don't look so good!"

I shouted back: "You're very perceptive! BUT OH MY GOSH, ISN'T THIS SO MUCH FUN!"

The six-year-old shouted at his little brother: "STOP! YOU'RE KILLING YOUR MOTHER! HAVE SOME DECENCY!"

Finally the ride ended. Finally, finally, finally. I was bent over looking for my brains or the kid's shoes, whichever materialized first. And the youngest kid was still screaming. The child who had to get on the Dizzy Dragon at all costs and had to ride in the Green one and hated the Purple one and wanted off because he couldn't get the Purple one suddenly, miraculously, switched allegiances and vowed he was never parting with the Purple one.

I had to drag him off the ride. I admit it. Then I couldn't find the Out gate because everyone else had vacated the ride long before us and the crowd in general seemed more or less paralyzed by the intensity of this child's tantrum. Then I found the Out gate and pushed through it with eyeballs blazing laser beams, jaw jutting out prominently in manner of Cro-Magnon man, carrying child as if through a towering inferno, and proceeded to crumple slowly into the grass because standing vertical was no longer an option.

I was sitting there slumped over thinking, I don't even care if the ground is wet (it was) or people have spit on it or how dirty I get; I just can't move, now or ever. My hair and my blouse were completely drenched in thick, slimy sweat. I felt cold, clammy, breathless and generally somewhat electrocuted.

That was Monday night.

Tuesday I didn't feel so swell, but I paced myself slowly and even took a nap in the mid-afternoon. I agreed to go back to the Fair only on the condition I ride no rides and drink many liquids of a hydrating nature and be allowed to stop and sit as often as need be. Because the Fair is a yearly tradition, and the kids love it, and I would hate to not be a part of it. Of course.

And that went fine, or so I thought.

Then last night I was having this dream where I'd been lying in a bed and couldn't get warm. Then it emerged I was lying on cold marble and shivering intensely. I woke up completely pooled in the same kind of clammy sweat; it was as if someone had thrown a bucket of water at me. I could barely breathe; I felt so limp and shaken and I had starch in my mouth, like I'd just run a marathon, and the starch was everywhere; I was too weak to get up and go to the bathroom for a towel and literally just mopped myself with my quilt.

I've had very fast heartbeats before -- what they call transient atrial flutter with a 2:1 conduction. But it's always come on with a fairly predictable trigger. I was standing too long. Or I exerted myself too much. Or I may even have blown up in a rage at someone and sent my pulse through the roof.

But it's not happened to me, to my knowledge, in the middle of the night as I slept. So I had to lay there alarmed, wondering what -- if anything-- is going on.

There's this about having any kind of difficulty with the heart. Sometimes symptoms could be nothing and sometimes they can be something. It's just hard to tell. Anxiety can camoflauge as a heart attack. For that matter, so could indigestion. If you're thinking about it already, it's easy to start reacting to something that may or may not really be there.

And if you've ever ended up in the ER with chest pains that ended up to be not only paroxsymal but harmless, then you start thinking that somehow, you should really have known better. As if being a heart patient is akin to being a veteran; and therefore you should be able to recognize combat when you see it.

In this case it would seem sensible and logical to me that I've simply worn myself out with a lot of going and doing, and any kind of big event (and going on an outing like visiting the Fair or an amusement park) is going to be somewhat exhausting for me. That when the doctors say take it easy, they really mean take it easy.

But just to be on the safe side, I have to get my pacemaker checked tomorrow so the doctors can see what if anything was recorded last night when I woke up weak and breathless covered in sweat. If it was just sinus tachycardia, or what. And part of me even feels ridiculous for going ahead and letting them check it out; like I should be tougher than that, or at least slightly more invulnerable.

But truthfully, it has to be done. No matter what, the rest of the week will have to be at a much, much slower pace.