“Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
That’s a great Mark Twain line, but those words could have easily come from my mouth over these last few months. This year has crippled a nation and brought me a slew of health problems.
Here’s what I remember as being the best part of being dirt poor, as I had been for the better part of my life, now, not so much poor as middle class-ish. Best part of being poor, right, sorry, I got sidetracked. That happens a lot now. Being poor, best part, right, ignorance. Ignorance is the only real bright spot of living check to check. Not knowing. Man, not knowing was so freeing. But you save up some money and like a dummy you get health insurance.
With that insurance came doctor appointments. With the appointments came surprises and knowledge I didn’t want. It all started innocently enough; “How long have you known you have a heart murmur?”, my new doctor asked. “For about 15 seconds now.”, I replied. And with that, the worst year of my adult life.
Turned out, that murmur was just the tip of the iceberg. There were appointments galore as they tried to figured out the various things that are wrong with me.
Let’s start with my ticker. In addition to my newly acknowledged murmur, they told me I had a condition called, “Athlete’s Heart”. Now, as I understand it, this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to a guy. Think, the Incredible Hulk. You see, the Hulk has to remain calm at all times. Has to be careful not to let his heart rate get too high. The blood flows in they way it would for anyone else, it’s the pumping out that’s giving me problems. It’s the heart walls where the blood flows it, they’re too thick.
As I write this, I am taking my pulse and blood pressure. My pulse is 105 just sitting here typing, can you imagine how high it gets when I climb stairs or try to do anything strenuous? And as I sit here, unable to let my heart rate get too high, I’m gaining weight without the option of exercise to counter the gained weight. It’s quite the conundrum; getting heavy both impacts my hips and thin legs that never imagined they’d have to carry so much weight around and my already problematic heart. I’m nearly powerless here. I can’t type without my heart rate going sky high, I’d hate to think about what a sit-up would do to me.
The medication, which is working, takes time from me, sometimes a whole day. I keep trying to get a handle on it, but I’m not a pill guy. I’m a deal with it kind of guy. Hell, my nose was broken for seven years and I walked around like nothing was wrong, just got sick every morning, no sweat. And I would stayed that way if the pain of what was happening to me didn’t completely envelop me.
We’re still not 100% sure where the pain comes from…maybe I should explain just a bit, not too much, I feel like all the columns I wrote this year have been about my health or lack thereof. I hate this. I was raised by two, strong and silent types, openly complaining about any problem was and is frowned upon. But I buy ink by the barrel, that affords me an audience whereas they had none. Maybe my foster dad, Richard Black, may he rest in peace, would have started a podcast or spent a column moaning about his bum knees? No, he absolutely wouldn’t have, but I need it. So, the origin of all that ails me.
It starts around my left shoulder blade, just behind my heart. It begins with a dull but rapidly increasing amount of pain. This is the time when I think I might be having a heart attack, because my chest and left arm have joined my shoulder for the searing pain party. Then the strange relief that comes with the pain that takes over my right arm. Do you know how weird it is to welcome pain? Weird, man, weird.
They haven’t been able to give a name to what’s wrong with me. They’ve labeled me with the catchall Fibromyalgia. That’s what they tell people when they can’t figure out what the hell is wrong with you. The diagnosis may be sketchy, but the pills they are prescribing are keeping most episodes at bay and they added another to help quell an episode rather quickly should one slip through.
I’m grateful to be taken care of, grateful the medications work but man alive these pills can make you loopy or exhausted. I mentioned it more than once, I know, but, I’m losing hours, sometimes a whole day to these pills.
Everything is suffering as far as my magazine work goes. Things get so backed up. Next thing I know, my magazine is weeks or a month behind schedule. Could generate any ad income until the end of the year so print is upside down. I can’t write as quickly as I need. These problems compound. Then I catch a breath. I get a little clarity. Suddenly there is print money. Magazines get caught up. I ask a writer to take over my Editor’s Notes for the year. If all goes well everything will be as it was by the end of January.
Thanks for sticking with me. Takes a lot of patience on your part to deal with such amateurish behavior. I’m not healed or healthy, but I’m healed and healthy enough to get back to work as usual.
I’ve never stopped giving you 100% of my effort and dedication, it just came out slower. I plan on getting back to the speed I worked at in the past. I’d like to get back to the level of quality work you expect from me.
I’ll get there. I’m already on my way