I didn’t want to go to the appointment (London hospitals are a much longer journey from my parent’s house in Kent than from my uni accomodation a few tube stops away). I think, despite the eerie calm that seems to have overwhelmed me in the past few days, I was scared. But I had total faith in my consultant from the moment I stepped into the room. We talked about university and life, and the last few months of intensive care stays and the health rollercoaster I’ve been on with other areas of my body. And then my recent heart health and how I’ve barely been able to function. He pulled up the results of a test, pointed at the screen to highlight bits, and simply said, “That’s not normal,” (which I’d already figured). When the conversation somehow circled back round to university grades, I squirmed with embarrassment as he stopped and said,
“You’re still getting grades like that despite all of this? That’s very impressive, given everything you’ve been through in the past few months… Very impressive.” A tiny bubble of pride swelled briefly inside of me, but I swiftly burst it, reminding myself and the cardiologist sat before me that it was all simply down to luck. He laughed briefly and shook his head. Then we got back to the heart and its future. The issue we thought we solved at the end of last year… Not solved. He apologised, said he felt bad that I’d been left this way and that he hadn’t been able to fix it. The fact that he actually cared about my quality of life meant a lot. He knew he had my life in his hands, and, as ever, knew its value.
But my messed up heart needs help.
More surgery was mentioned – similar to that that happened at the end of last year, but more complex and only 50% likely to be successful. A pacemaker was also mentioned. He looked me in the eyes while he talked and I tried to look anywhere but his face because I was trying to avoid the situation; however, he treated me like a person and not just a patient, he remembered things about my life I didn’t expect him to retain. So my brain was all ok you can have the future of my heart in your hands, I’ll listen… But I am staring down the barrel of the impending doom that is exams, and I wanted to wait until the trauma of completely screwing them up has passed before assaulting my body with the further shock of trying to process the above. He looked at me. I told him I’d try anything and asked him if there were any more drugs we could try in place of the heart tablets I was on that really haven’t been managing things. He paused, and thought, and then came the,
“There is one tablet we could try. I don’t know if it will work. It’s very new and I need to check the dosage because I’m not used to prescribing it.” (he even had to ask the internet) I repeated that I would try anything. He wrote me a prescription for this new drug used to treat heart failure, and told me we will meet as soon as exams are over in a month’s time to re-discuss the surgery and everything. In the meantime, if anything else occurs, I am to call him, and go back and see him. And if my symptoms worsen or I pass out, I’m supposed to call an ambulance (which probably won’t happen).
For a few minutes I was scared by it all. And then the calm returned. It hasn’t left. I have exams to sit, and a few members of university staff to prove wrong in doing so. Family actions later reduced me to near tears, and walking around the hospital completely ruined my heart and gave me awful chest pain… But I bought myself a new bag for future hospital stays, and I wore my new koala socks which looked awesome, and then I went next door and hugged their puppy (and learned that my stepdad had spread stuff about me to other people living in our road, which was the point at which tears threatened to fall and an emotional bullet tore through my brain). Today could have gone a lot better, but it could also have gone a lot, lot worse.
A few friends were there for me through the whole thing. One cried. One called me strong. One was fantastically blunt. I loved them all for caring. I did’t break down this time. I have enough faith in my cardiologist not to be scared. Like I’ve said before, heart stuff no longer scares me for long, my heart keeps me on my toes and plays up when I least expect it to. But as was also pointed out to me – so far I have a 100% survival rate through combinations of serious illnesses I should not have survived in isolation, let alone together.
I feel lucky. I am lucky.
And tomorrow, I promise to attempt to write something worth reading. Today this just needed to get off of my chest (no pun intended). Seriously, I’m sorry this post was so awful. But writing this out really helped, so I don’t really regret it.