Thursday, January 2, 2014

On Getting A Pacemaker

The wide arc of yellow-white cast by the street light out my study window holds no interest. I contemplate the new year. 
I savor this dark time, before dawn, for sleep has never been my quest. In the quiet I focus on my old body.  I am aware of a tinkling in my chest. Funny, it makes no sound but it feels like a sound. It’s such a little quiver.  It almost tickles, like the whiskers of a kitten. 
For a while I think it is my heart beating softly, in and out, and then the awareness comes that it is not me but my new pacemaker, the Cadillac of pacemakers the techie said when he tested it after my out patient surgery three and a half weeks ago. I wonder what color it is? In my imagination it is a yucky brown, but that is just me assigning feelings to it. It could in fact be shining silver and turquoise. 
I learn that almost three million people in the world have pacemakers; about 600,000 are added annually. Why do I think I’m unique? 
It’s disconcerting to realize I am not the one in charge of my own heart. I have always liked being the boss, my own boss, especially. As much as I try to surrender control in my head, I loose the battle.  “Give me back ME, I implore.” My personal warriors are not as strong as the mechanical ones. Alas. My right hand cups gently around the bulge under my left collar bone, a bulge that feels foreign and comes with no passport or visa. The incision is not quite healed and shreds of the dissolving dressing cling to it looking soiled and unclean even though I shower daily.  I have been cautioned not to pull them off, an activity hard to resist.  In the mirror they are an insult. Will I ever be able to scrub this awkward place?  A pacemaker is supposed to be the size of a man’s wrist watch. Mine must have been intended for the offspring of Paul Bunyon.  When I can swim again will the water slide past it smoothly or will it pucker up like a rock in a stream which impedes the steady flow? Will I ever come to embrace this foreigner in me?  
Most pacemakers are implanted for too slow hearts. To be contrary mine is the opposite. My beat can’t wait to get there, wherever there is, and sometimes it skips or trips on the way. In a couple of weeks I will have a second procedure called an ablation which will attempt to short circuit those parts of my heart that make it fire too fast, and then, with good fortune, the pace maker will take over from inefficient me. I speculate: will my personality change? Will I become more or less patient, judgmental, caring, short tempered, insightful? I’m curious, but as yet far from accepting. 
Happy New Year, dear ones. I hope 2014 brings us all closer, healthier, kinder, wiser, and in synch with the natural wonder of the world, battery assist or not.  


Nancy Overton said...

A very beautiful piece of writing. I had never thought of what this must be like until I read of all your concerns with the specifics of color and size and imposition on body and mind... I love, "in synch with the natural world of wonder, battery assist or not". May your new pace be one that enriches your your new life in Sonoma and continues to enrich the lives of us who include themselves in that large and wonderful circle of Bonnie's friends..
Our love and best wishes for a Happy New Year,
Nancy and Chuck

Jan Hagan said...

Your blog story is wonderful. Surely that pacemaker i silver and turquoise. You are doing remarkably well with the thought process here.
Slowing down should put you more in control of everything in your life. Good thoughts and medication will help eliminate your world.