Sunday, May 8, 2011

I've Died Three Times

Well, I'm one week post surgery for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).  For all the wittiness and bravery I portrayed on Twitter the three days I was in the hospital, believe me it was just one big old mask for the tears, and the fear I was experiencing as I learned I would have to undergo another surgical procedure.   But for the kindness and genuine caring of a topnotch nursing staff, I would have put my butt in a taxi and gone home  to the Doggie Princess.  Once the nurses saw my original scar, they all reassured me the ICD procedure was a piece of cake compared to my other surgery.  I wasn't hearing it.  I'm deathly afraid slightly leery of anesthesia.  There was only one part of this procedure that I was going to be completely out but that didn't matter.  I knew they were going to basically kill me so they test the defibrillator and make sure it shocked me back to life.   I found out afterwards, they did that twice.  

A friend of mine who went through the first surgery with me was quick to point out "dang - you've died three times".   Once during original surgery when I was transferred to the heart/lung machine and twice during this procedure to make sure the device worked.  That's a realization I can't even begin to articulate.  

I'm happy to report that the nurses were right.  It wasn't as bad as my first surgery but the seriousness of the implant hit home when they gave me the list of dos and don'ts of living with an ICD.  The first being my jacked up hair.  I can't lift my left arm above heart height for the next six weeks - makes it very difficult to wrap my hair in the manner to which it's accustomed.  I'll be trying to get an appointment for some braids with the quickness.   Other things like no cell phone within 6 inches of the device, making sure TSA agents hand screen me with minimal exposure to their equipment when flying, and keep it moving when entering stores with the theft deterrents on the doors just reinforces lifestyle changes I have to make -- again.   

I haven't been shocked since I've had the implant which is a good thing.  It means my my heart rhythm hasn't gone crazy.   I'm having moments of hysteria and I've found myself extremely hesitant in performing some basic living tasks.  Sleeping is especially difficult right now.  I'll never know when I'm getting ready to get a shock of life and I think that anticipation has me a little bit frozen right now.   Granted, I'm post-op, but I'm basically staying in the house these days.  My daily  walk with the Doggie Princess and a run to the local seafood restaurant is as far as I can venture out right now.  I recognize that though and I'll be making an appointment with a therapist to make sure I get over this fear before I have to re-enter the real world.  

Now that I've died three times, I'm more determined than ever to make my remaining days on this earth meaningful and satisfying to my soul.  It's a necessity that can no longer be ignored.  

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