“Sweetheart!” Exclaimed Mom over the phone. “Your cardiologist’s secretary called me back, they just had a cancellation and can squeeze you in tomorrow. Can you make it?”
*visual of me slaving over an important project due this week*
“Tomorrow? That’s so fast! Of course! Send me the info.” I enthusiastically respond.
*looks at project*
I clutched my notebook close to my chest. As if the questions written inside it would protect my heart from its own internal flaws.
“Only 12 questions, that’s not too bad!” I thought to myself as I checklisted all my biggest concerns.
The wait was excruciating. I just wanted to pace the floors and get all the anxious energy out of my body. This was it. All my questions to be answered is right here, right now.
“Hello! Good to see you.” He strolled in the room.
“Hey Doctor! Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. It means a lot.”
“Well, one of my patients ended up in surgery and I had this slot open up. I’ve been telling my administrator B. To fill any openings and she said she knew exactly who she was going to call. I’m glad it worked out.”
My heart grew 2 sizes. Poor B. She was consistently pestered by my calls for over a week and sure enough she gets me in true to promise. In Canadian fashion, I would be grateful for a 2 month wait and that’s if you’re lucky. I got in in less than 2 weeks. I owe B. Some cookies and a heartfelt card.
“It’s nice to meet you, have we met before?” He started.
“Yes, but I was a little girl when we met. Usually when Dad was recovering from surgery.” I responded.
“Yes, okay, and how old are you now?” He says as he checks over my chart.
“I’m 23 now.”
“…and you have the gene.” He mentions.
“Yes.” I didn’t have any other words than that to say. By now I was so tired of explaining my unique circumstances to others it was almost comforting to use one word sentences. For once I could talk to someone who knew more than I did. Let them take the lead and reassure me for a moment. That sounds nice.
“Tell me what you already know.” He asked me. I proceeded to explain what I knew, fancy medical terms and all. I did my research, since I knew how to read anyway. Might as well flaunt it while I get the chance.
“Looks like you’re well informed. Let me explain to you your options for ICD’s, (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator), there’s 2 types now which is good for options. The first one…”
He gets right to the good stuff doen’t he? Perfect! I need that. I mentally check off the question about available technology for ICD’s but take pause once I realize, “He went straight to ICD’s, does he want one in me now?”
But not stopping like Cardiac arrest, I mean physiologically due to emotional response. I’m much more familiar with that kind than the real kind.
“I would recommend the conventional ICD, the accidental firing rate is much lower, between 3 and 5%. And it’s placement is easier when it comes to wires…”
Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph. (God forgive me). At least, that’s what Nan would say in times like these….
“Since you don’t need the pacemaker, just the defibrillator, the design and leads are very simple, easy to implant and replace so comparatively to your father you’ll have a much easier time….”
I’m 23, I just found out I have the damn gene and I’m asymptomatic. Can I get until I’m 30? Like I asked for?
“If you want it by your ribs instead of the shoulder the wires will be placed subcutaneously…”
“But the issues with that option is that the leads…”
I’m just too young for this…can I take a rain check?
“The incision for that version is about as long as my fingernail which is optimal for cosmetic reasons…”
I mean, I don’t have a receipt for my existence or anything. Will a birth certificate work? Or my total DNA sequence on paper?
“The defibrillator itself is quite small these days, about four fingers wide and half a finger thick…”
Not bad. But not small enough for me, personally.
“The lead has a tiny end that we insert into the heart muscle, when it’s removed for replacement there’s a risk of losing some of the bit of muscle it’s connected to but now that’s quite rare….”
OH BUTTS 😥
“Every 10 years or so you’ll need a new battery, manufacturers could extend battery life, but by then the technology is so advanced you might as well get a new one….”
*hides away in a corner*
“…so you won’t need that many surgeries in your lifetime….”
“Feel free to do as much research as you need to decide which one will work for you.”
“Doctor, do you mean for me to decide now and get implanted….right away?” I ask tentatively whilst trying to remain calm.
“No, not at all, we just might as well have this conversation while I’m here and be prepared.”
*tries not to faint*
THANK CHRIST. OH ME JESUS – (proceedes to mentally swear all the blasphemous Newfie jargon possible)
“Oh man, for a bit there I thought a decision was already made.” I sigh with relief.
“No, but I would like to know the history of all the affected women in your family and at what age the disorder manifested so we can make an informed decision when the time comes.” He stated.
“I have an Aunt who knows all of those details. I’ll have to call her and get back to you on that.”
“Sure, that information is very important and will help decide when we implant you. Symptoms or not. You don’t have to worry about that now but there are a lot of factors at play for that decision.”
“Will I have until I’m 30?” I ask hopefully.
“That’s something that can’t be decided until the time comes. So, no promises. But it can happen if you continue to be asymptomatic and your family history looks good.”
“I’ll take it!”
“Your 2015 results are completely normal. It’s time for a top up now though so I’m going to get you an MRI and a Signal Average ECG to double check any changes. If there are any structural abnormalities or concerns in your ECG I’ll call you and we can go from there. In fact can you stay for a bit and get the SAECG done here right now? Let’s save you a trip.”
*internally moans at project deadline*
Luckily, everything I had hoped for was verified by the highest professional available. One who not only knows this disorder, but my family’s history as well. One thing is for sure. With an intense day like that, sometimes all you need is a couple of good memes to help you mentally handle effing scary stuff.
May Your Adventures be Wild and Your Heart be Strong,
~ Chelsea Alice ~