In A Dither

In bed.

Alone.

The glimmer from my iPad clouds my periphery. Like cigarette smoke did. I push the icons with fingers that tremble and twitch. Spinning a chronicle to people I don’t know.

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Bed spins. Jitters. Sweat solid as syrup. A heart heated.  Fairy feet tapping a trail inside my chest.  Runs. Ventricular tachycardia.  The tremors make copy and paste a tricky task.

Jerks & Jitters.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Caused by Metoprolol? I don’t know. Doesn’t matter. It’s been replaced. Maybe the Amiodarone? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It’s been swapped. A new substitute: Sotalol.

And still I whirl. And still I bolk. And still I heave the emptied.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Eyes opened. Eyes closed. Twirls. Jitters. Quivers. Quakes. Tangible creepings. Felt fear.

Heartbeats in my ears, in my hands, in my blinks, in my testicles.

Jerks & Jitters.

For years I yearned for the act to be completed by quakes and quivers.  It was the mission of my bed.

Jerks & Jitters.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

Tomorrow EKG at 930.

Tomorrow 10:40 the scrapes and scratches and punctures and pricks from the ablation must be poked and prodded and approved.

Too many jitters & jerks to rest.

Restlessness.

Every day. Every night. 365 cycles.

 

(Photo courtesy of vox.com)

Getting It Off My Chest

extractables-and-leachablesAn IV bag drips into the crook of my left arm. I’m afraid. Ablation. I mull the word through my thoughts. Ablation. Isn’t that a Church word? Latin isn’t catalogued in my mind like it was in my past. Away. Something about away.

His name is Trevor. Kind and gentle. He talks to me as he preps. I ask if I can raise my arm. He says I can’t. I tell him I just want to make the Sign of the Cross. I’ll be awake during the procedure. I want to pray my rosary. I make the Sign of my Faith on the roof of my mouth with my tongue. A technician above my head tells me he’ll say the prayer for me. “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen,” he recites. I listen for the pitch of ridicule. Absent. The technician is too young for the Latin to be loaded in readiness. “Were you in the seminary?” I ask. “No. Just a lot of years in Catholic schools.” Trevor raises his voice, “I know the Hail Mary in Spanish.” I turn my head to my right and look into his eyes. “8 years in a Catholic school in San Diego,” he offers. I listen to him pray and recognize the words from Spanish 3. “San Diego? Why are you here?” I ask because the day is cold; why would anyone be here without purpose? “The obvious reason,” he says. We laugh. “A woman,” I say. We laugh.

I watch Trevor as he negotiates the electric pink razor over my chest and abdomen. Prepped from thighs to collarbone. The tufts of hair wave and sway beneath the V of his scrub top. Trevor doesn’t manscape. I don’t either. This is only the second time. And neither time I hold the razor.

I think of her. I remember our game. A clawed bathtub sat on a cracked tiled floor haloed by a spackled baseboard. The ceiling dampened and stained by the absence of a fan. “Let me shave your legs!” she giggled. It was a new tease for her. We were young. Sex was as much about the new as it was the desired. Once she had painted my toes; shaved legs wasn’t a leap. In the dead of winter – only the two of us would know of our game. I allowed two inches up my thigh. “Stop.” I didn’t demand; she didn’t insist. “How about this little part here?” She plucked the patch in the center of my chest. I had been bullied as a boy. Hair on my chest was an accomplishment. A proof of my masculinity. I spent my youth in the era of the hirsute hero. Tom Selleck didn’t shave; I didn’t want to return to the prepubescent; I didn’t want to return to the pursuit of a woman. I returned the razor. There wasn’t much to shear. It was gone with a couple of whisks.

I stand in front of the bathroom sink and pull the tape from my arm. The bandaid is stained with a dot from my dried blood. I look into the mirror and see my smoothly patched chest. Clumps of hair line the surfaces outside my nipples. I don’t recognize myself. My body looks featureless and soft and absent of color. Like alabaster from some Sherwin-Williams collection. Freshly stirred. Smooth. I feel embarrassed. Feminine. Perverse. The opposite of clean. Not clean shaven. I don’t recognize myself. I have a habit. Since college. Or before. I habitually rub the space of skin that cocoons my heart when I think. I strum the space with a rhythm that echoes a flamenco beat. Rapid. Too rhythmic to be a tick. I lean into the mirror. My belly meets the porcelain. I look into my eyes and rub my heart. My palm grazes. Cold. Clammy. Like touching the unresponsive skin of a woman. I pull my hand away.

I step out of the shower and grab a towel. As I dry my body I see the stripes. Shaven from grin to groin. I look centered but I don’t feel centered. I don’t recognize myself. The ablations offer no solutions. My heart is broken. I feel vulnerable and weak and out of control.

(Photo courtesy of gerstelus.com)

Bruised

UntitledThis morning I stood before a full length mirror and looked at the losing and the loss and the gone.

My chest is bruised the complexions of autumn. My groin is bruised the stains of a vineyard. My foot bleeds the rest of the ripened and the rotted. I rebandaged myself and tried not to cry.

I can’t take the loss. My soul is fragile. My courage is brittle. In my past I’d cocoon and wait to heal my hope.

Today I considered the similar of cocoon and casket. Both are Kafkaesque. The became differs. The was does not.

 

(Photo courtesy of medicalnewstoday.com)

Recapture

Untitled

It’s the helplessness. It’s the less of control.

That’s what disease does. It strips your supremacy. Your body assaults you. Stealth. Without threats. One day you’re a prisoner of a war captured by a new reality: impotence.

One day you can’t. Each day the can’ts accumulate. And soon you’re surrounded by the couldn’ts. I couldn’t for more than a year. I couldn’t ride a bicycle or walk a block or lose the weight or heal the ulcer or breathe without labor or say consecutive sentences or risk the heartbreak or control my coulds.

And my will withered.

This weekend I compelled myself. I willed myself erect. I willed myself engaged. I willed myself to accomplish. I stood up, I spoke up, and I achieved. It was difficult standing on that stage. But I did it. I recovered my remains. And I resurrected my hope.

I resuscitated my dignity. I reclaimed the reign of my dominion of myself.

After a performance, I stood beside one of my closest friends. One of the circle who matter most. And my illness attacked me while I was the most vulnerable. I suffered the third most humiliating moment of my 55 years. I spoke my horror aloud and my friend soothed with a simple, “fuck it.” And at the moment – he rescued my pride. An exhale later I reclaimed my control.

I can’t control the attacks against my heart. Congestive heart failure is an insatiable beast. But I can control my reply.

This weekend I replied.

 

(Photo courtesy of www.quora.com)

Autumnal Leavings

autumn_leaves_PNG3601Tonight: dress rehearsal for UNZIPPED. And yet, it’s not. I don’t have dress rehearsals anymore. I’m too sick. Now everything is a performance. I’m pushing all my powers to perform my necessary tasks.

Yesterday I had lunch with a buddy. As I walked down the hall to the restaurant I grew afraid. I’d never felt so ill. I slid onto the stool and I steadied myself. I considered what I should do. I knew I should go to the hospital. But – I have a play this week. Too many people are counting on me. Too much money is at stake. Coupled with medical bills? Too much debt to incur. I excused myself and walked to the restroom. I balanced each palm on the porcelain and I looked at myself in the mirror. I prayed aloud, “Please don’t let me die.”

An aside about side effects: now I have short term memory loss and sweats so thick it’s like goo. An actor who’s having trouble with his memory on the eves of his performances. And the script isn’t even  horror. An understudy? I’ve overstudied. I’ll perform. I’ve learned how to endure. I’ve endured the last year of heart aches.

At the sink I splashed the coldest water to cool my clammed skin, and I steadied my feet. I walked back to the restaurant and I resat on the stool.

I’m living with a pulse that hovers in the 40s. I can’t lose weight and my body is weighted with the physical weary until I must pace to advance. Chair to chair. Step to step. Task to task.

I’m pushing myself until October 18. Please God – a successful procedure.

Please God a successful play.

I remind myself of O’Henry. I hope this isn’t my last of my leaves. I’ve always wanted to leave my Mark. I just never thought of it all so literally.

Walking Wounded

NurseI just had a conversation with the nurse who’s taking care of me. I’m very open in my life so people share with me. She’s very sick. I won’t reveal her illness. But it’s severe. We talked about two things. We talked about having an illness that isn’t noticeable. The wound nurse treated my foot ulcer last night. It’s an open bleeding sore. It’s obvious. But when you have an illness someone can’t see, it’s dismissed. We talked about not wanting sympathy – merely wanting acknowledgement. I told her that I’ve lost most of my friends since I’ve been sick. I didn’t know why. And then she told me. I love she had my answer. “People don’t want the emotional responsibility of you.” I love that. So true.

And then we talked about hatred. I’ve noticed there’s an undercurrent of snide and snippy in conversations. I feel like people are ready to pounce. I had a conversation with a buddy the other day. As I spoke I felt like he snatched the words from my air. It was nearly violent. And the nurse and I talked about it. She feels it too.

Lately I feel sad and bitter and hopeless and full of hate. That’s not like me. That’s not who I am. I need to change that. I won’t let my soul become wounded. And I can’t inflict my sadness and hopelessness on others. So. Hopefully the docs will be able to adjust my meds to a reasonable and livable baseline. I’m going to concentrate on my play. And I’m going to tuck my writing aside and not gush until I’m certain I can control the flow.

Just A Number.

SweatI’ve learned a lot today. Today was a big day.

I sat in my ophthalmologist’s office and waited for my eyes to dilate. An elderly man – Tom – asked me about my orthotic shoes. He wondered if Medicare paid for them. When I informed him I wasn’t old enough for Medicare, he began a monologue about his insurance. I listened – strictly because I felt the obligation of synchronicity – and my body began to profusely sweat. A thick goo wet my hair and head. Soon I felt too nauseated to concentrate or to participate. I began to pray, “Jesus help me. Oh my God.” And at that moment I didn’t know how I’d endure. The nurse called my name and I stood up and steadied myself. I flattened my shoes and locked my knees. I asked myself how long I’d be able to go on. How long could I tolerate feeling so awful? I asked myself if the side effects superseded the benefits. I don’t know. I don’t have answers.

My light fixture in my dining room didn’t work. I replaced bulbs. But I’m literally in the dark about electrical repair. I asked my buddy Greg if he’d fix it. He said he would so today I went to Menards to buy a new fixture. Menards is a double storied warehouse and the electrical department is on the top floor in the corner. I rode the elevator to the second floor and walked toward the light fixtures. And I felt too weak to walk. I began to pray, “Jesus help me. Please don’t let me die in this store.” I worried who would tell my parents when I didn’t come home. I felt so nauseated, weak, and lightheaded that I sat on the two story stairs until I felt strong enough to walk. People walked around me like I was a drunk. I didn’t care. I felt too sick to care.

I went home and sat on a chair for 90 minutes and tried to restore my strength and settle my stomach.

When my buddy repaired my fixture (it was merely the wrong light bulbs – I had non dimmer bulbs in the sockets and I have a dimmer) I insisted on taking him to supper to repay his kindness. We walked quite slowly into the restaurant. I sat and tried to get strength. And then I knew.

I can’t. I don’t have the strength.

I can’t socialize. I don’t have the strength for conversation. Hell, I’m too tired to listen. How can someone be too exhausted to hear? I don’t know.

My new mantra: “I don’t think I can do this.” I pray it all day long. Sentence after step. “God I don’t think I can do this.”

Tomorrow – heart tests. Monday Cardiologist appointment. Jesus let’s hope they’ll do the procedure and repair me. Soon. I don’t see the electrophysiologist until mid May. Maybe the play after the procedure. We’ll see.

I’ll continue to take the new medicine. It gives me an hour each day to function enough to accomplish my necessary tasks. But this new medicine is hard. It makes me so sick.

Have you ever been too sick to care? Just numb? I’m numb.

I’ve always prided myself on my grit. I’ve always been the one who wouldn’t quit. But today I learned I’m not the same. Will has nothing to do with it. I just don’t think I can do it.

(Photo courtesy of onhealth.com)