Armed with Info

The floor reached out for me, pulling me down with alarming force.  I fought to remain upright, waves of nausea weakening my resolve.  One hand flew to my brow – now a pool of sweat – while the other searched for the phone.

I’m calling 9-1-1, I texted my husband.

“Stay with us, V.J.!”  the paramedic yelled.

I was down a well, the watery walls garbling his words, my words.  Couldn’t he see that I didn’t have the strength to answer?

I’d been fighting a throbbing ache in my jaw all night, finally caving at 4:20 am when I arose in search of pain killers.  Suddenly restless, I decided to stay up, and tackle my planned chores early.

I stripped the bed, did a full cycle of wash and had breakfast before the attack occurred.  A vision of my grandmother on her final day flashed through my mind.  She had been at a Judo lesson and lay down when she got home, saying she wasn’t feeling well.  She never got up again.

I can’t lay down, I told myself.  I was certain I would die.

“Your blood work is fine,” the resident informed me.  “Maybe take some baby aspirin, and something for the pain, and we’ll refer you to Urgent Care.”

I didn’t hear anything again for weeks, and by that time – the crisis behind me – I decided I would not pursue it further.

“To be quite honest,” I told the scheduler who eventually called, “I am tired of doctors, who knowing nothing about my disease, dismiss me. I’ve seen my share of cardiologists in the past and I have no desire to submit myself to that again.”

“Well, the doctor is not just a cardiologist and he is a good listener.  He won’t give up that easily.”

“Is he open to any information I might bring?”

“He is.  Bring along whatever you have.”

So, here I go again:  patient as educator.


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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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