Stitched, Scanned, and Restricted

thecliparts.com

thecliparts.com

Recently, I came across one of those anonymous sayings that pop up on social media like prairie dogs in Texas:

Cherish your health:
If it is good, preserve it.
If it is unstable, improve it.
If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

And I remembered.

Walking with vigor and strength through an afternoon of erratic March weather, I felt light-headed, thought, “Whoa,” and caught a close-up glimpse of my scuffed shoe next to dirty snow.

I came to in a park a block away: my heart thumping, my vision crystallized, my walking faster. I looked around. How did I get here? Unable to remember, I continued striding across the snow-ruffled grass of the park, puzzling over my wet, muddy jeans and blood-stained jacket. What happened to me?

At home, I looked in a mirror at the ugly havoc on my forehead and mainly felt relief: At 5:00pm near a busy intersection in a town full of helpful people, I fell on my head, thrashed about in a muddy gutter like an upside-down turtle, scrabbled to my feet, and walked home, billowing blood, with no witnesses — and thus no need to explain my clumsiness or to pretend pluckiness. Whew.

Joel came home, looked at my head, and we went to the hospital. As the doctor stitched my forehead together, my comedienne husband asked if I would be too traumatized to cook dinner. Ha. Ha.

The next morning, I looked like I’d walked on the wild side: a blood-encrusted, cross-stitched wound, shades of purple, black, and green like the aurora borealis and a squiggle of red eyeball peering through massive swelling. Joel, ever happy to celebrate my life events, emailed a close-up photograph to family and friends. They all called, forcing repeated confessions of my inability to walk and think at the same time.

When the stitches were removed, an intern gave me good news: “Wow! Cool! Looks like the stitches stretched out a couple of wrinkles.” Perhaps he could team with my husband as the new Abbot and Costello.

Eventually, I stopped dwelling on my plummet to earth and my inability to remember. I thought I misjudged my step, turned my foot or tripped. So I was taken aback when my family doctor said she feared an underlying cause for my scarred forehead — potentially more serious than a lack of grace. She recommended tests and a cardiologist. I trusted her, so I agreed.

As I waited for the tests to be scheduled, I experienced strange symptoms: pressure in my nose, twinges in my chest, lightening striking my brain. Was that a hiccup or heart failure? Could a faulty aorta be causing my painful big toe?

But a second conversation with my doctor disconcerted me more than my imaginings: “Janet, I talked with the cardiologist; he said you shouldn’t drive until you’ve had the tests and see him. You could blackout again and harm yourself or others.”

Because I feared being a little old lady who passed out and drove through the window of a Denny’s restaurant, I obeyed. Grounded for four weeks, I was monitored, scanned, x-rayed, and stressed. Electrodes and wires became my fashion accessories and please-hold-still-and-don’t-cough my new pastime.

Finally, only one procedure remained before I could reclaim my car keys: a test of the electrical current in my heart. If problems were found, I would awaken with a pacemaker.

A pacemaker? Me? Ridiculous. I cherished my health. I worked to protect it. I did things to improve it. How could I need help?

Self-perceptions can change overnight. But that’s another story.

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77 thoughts on “Stitched, Scanned, and Restricted

    • Thank you, Read on. I fear I misled my readers. In this post, I was remembering something that happened a few years ago to make the point we need to take care of our health. And now I can see I should have written “And I remembered five years ago.” Oh, well, that’s what I get for not having my husband read and critique this post as I usually do. It is good to hear from you, and I send a big hug back to you in Ireland.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh I am left hanging, and worried I must say. Do I really have to wait a month to hear the next bit of this story? I honestly don’t know that I can.
    I am in the midst of that waiting game with my dad, not for heart trouble but another grave concern. We’ll hopefully know more today or at least by the middle of next week. Waiting and hurting is troubling!
    So, this story is concerning and so well written. I love your ability to tell a story with humor and compassion simultaneously. Such a treat to read and I wish it wasn’t at your own expense in this case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Please don’t worry about me, my friend. Save all of your concern for your dad. This happened to me a few years ago, and I was clumsy in not being more clear about that. I’m fine. And I hope and pray your father will be as well. Please let me know.

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  2. I love how you describe this as a “life event”! Hopefully the medical world will offer some assistance in getting you back to your old mobile self. However it turns out, eventually you will walk around this issue and carry on in a new normal way.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m sitting with a dropped-jaw and no words to spill out. How suddenly things change.

    It’s been years since I’ve been to a doctor and all of a sudden a couple of weeks ago my wife began to insist I at least go for a check-up… apparently at my age it’s something one should do. Well Janet… I’m thinking now would might be as good a time as any to make that appointment. Do take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Janet, I’m so sorry to read that you took a tumble and all the medical tests and limitation that followed. Sending prayers and best wishes for good final test results and a return to your healthy, active life. Your posts are always a breath of fresh air and I look forward to the next installment as I anxiously await good news!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good to hear from you, Joanne, and I appreciate your good wishes, though I don’t deserve them. My post described something that happened to me five years ago to make the point that to age well we need to take care of our bodies. I think you’ll enjoy the follow-up. I’m glad you enjoy my posts.

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      • Janet, you always deserve my good wishes! And I am thankful to know that the event you described is now safely in the past. And yes, if we don’t care for our own health, we are missing a huge chance at a fulfilling and rewarding “second chapter”. Still looking forward to the next post…

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      • You express so well what I believe, Joanne: that we owe it to ourselves to proactively protect our health. I know accidents and catastrophic illnesses can happen to anyone at any time, but I also know healthy habits can increase our odds of survival and, in the meantime, allow us to live fuller lives.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I really hated to click “like” on this one Janet, but thank heaven you are OK. A pacemaker won’t be too bad if that’s what it takes. Several people I know have them and feel 100% better since. But what a scare for you. The thing I picked up on was that no one was in the vicinity to help you as you struggled home. I passed out in the grocery store several weeks ago, and amongst all the morning shoppers, no one took notice as I clung to the grocery cart. This must tell us something about our society.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your grocery store experience, Kati.I hope you are OK. My fall was a scare for me, and as you’ll read in the follow-up post, I did get a pacemaker and am getting along fine with it. I’m quite sure no one saw me fall. I live in a small town filled with people I’ve seen rush to help others, and many people know me because of my newspaper columns so I think they would have reacted to my plight. At least, I hope so!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I noted that you said March so I am hoping that you have worked through everything and are okay. I also noted no one had helped and that is sad. I was lucky I felt unwell at work two year ago and next thing was on the floor , ambulance called etc and today am well with a pace maker keeping my heart regular. My thoughts are with you and am sure your positivity will carry you through
    Cheers Lynne

    Liked by 2 people

    • I, too, now have a pacemaker, Lynne, and 90% of the time I forget i have it. I feel good. I’ll give the details in the next post. It sounds like we had similar experiences. I appreciate your reassurance and good wishes.

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  7. As the old cliche’ goes, I feel your pain. Sometime ago I walked out of a restaurant. There was a step downward but I slipped and fell face down. I was fortunate that I did not break my nose or my glasses. I ended up with only a few scraps and bruises. It reminded me how fragile the physical body is. When I was young, I thought I was immortal. These days each day reminds me how mortal I am. But I am still vertical and that is a pretty good thing. I can tell you this. The first thing I am going to do when I pass onto the Great Somewhere is to have a talk with the Man Upstairs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for a chuckle, Don. I loved the visual of you having a talk with the Man. You also used the perfect word to describe how I felt after my fall: fragile. For the first time, I realized how vulnerable my body is; it had always seemed slightly harassed but invincible. Now I know better.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so sorry to read this Janet, yet your injection of humor (aided by Abbot & Costello) makes it a little easier. Blacking out, falling and getting hurt is scary. I hope you are feeling better. I hope the tests lead to an answer quickly. At least you’re in good, albeit comical hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was in good hands and I am fine, Dan, and the next post will detail my experience with a pacemaker. But I’m also more aware of how quickly lives can change, which has made me more appreciative of the life I have. PS: Thanks for enjoying the humor; it actually helped me deal with things in the moment, as I think my husband knew it would.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Is this recent or a memory, Janet? If recent, I hope all goes well. But to give you a boost should you need it, if you get a pacemaker… the guy who built (and previously owned) our house had a hobby of mountain climbing. Then he had a pacemaker fitted. And… he still climbs. So… it needn’t limit everything. But as you say, self-perceptions can change. (And they do. It’s part of living.)

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a timely post. I was on the phone with my college roommate today and she told me about her bouts of “A-fib” after I told her that I think I may finally be getting old because I’ve been overwhelmed while planning my latest trip.
    What happened to the self-perceptions of those two crazy college girls who didn’t think they’d ever age?

    I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for your next post (which will be the day before I see you!) and hoping that all it took was a pacemaker to have you back to “normal”. My grandmother had a pacemaker installed in her mid-70s and lived an active life until her mid-90s.

    All the best, Janet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we were all never going to age, Rita, but somehow we are. When we see each other, which I’m so looking forward to, we can talk about our voyages away from our blissful ignorance of aging. I love hearing stories about people like your grandmother and would like to hear more about her.

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    • I’m glad you read my responses as well, Troy, and apologize for not clarifying that my memory was from five years ago. But I would have appreciated your sympathy and dread anyway! I also appreciate your use of the word disturbing. I wanted to document a disturbing time for me as a warning to those I care about that they should guard their health rather than being complacent about it as I was.

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  11. How frightening! Although I fall more often than I want to admit, it’s just that my balance is off. I never go past my backyard deck or my carport without my cane. I’m just days away from being 62, yet my muse says I’m still in my thirties. At the same time, I rather like the advanced age because it says I’ve experienced some of life.

    I hope you’re in better health now and I wish you endless days of being able to roam as you want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely wish, Glynis; it’s perfect for me: to be able to roam as I wish. I’m sorry about your balance problems. I am experiencing some of those issues as well, but I agree it is nice to know we’ve experienced many years of life. Your muse sees you as younger than mine sees me. She thinks I’m in my forties.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I can relate. Twice I’ve went blind up in the mountains since the heart attack. What I found strange was everything didn’t go black, everything went white. The doc said my heart wasn’t getting oxygen to my body, so my body started shutting down non-essential functions. I thought eyesight was essential. Guess not. I know what you went through. There’s always the thought that it will happen again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, Rob, going blind in the mountains sounds terrifying. How long does it last? I’m glad to hear there’s an explanation, but, like you, startled that our bodies would consider sight as a non-essential. And, yes, there is the thought it will happen again. Even though I’ve had a pacemaker for five years, when I feel dizzy or lightheaded, I fear I’ll pass out and fall again, so start looking for a soft landing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It lasts about 10 minutes. I can tell when it’s about to happen now, so I stop and put my head down until it goes away. Doc said my going into the mountains alone isn’t ideal. But I still do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It must have been frightening the first time, Rob, before you knew it would go away. I can’t imagine anything keeping you out of the mountains, but I do hope you’ll be reasonably cautious when you go.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You had me laughin’, then concerned, then totally wigged-out until I read “READ ON’S” comment! Damn, Woman! Don’t do that to your buddies….any way, I laughed for MOST of it!! Does that make me a bad friend?!!! 🙂 Tell Joel he’s falling asleep on the job!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I had you laughing, Lucie, because doing so was what ket me from being anxious to the utmost after my fall. I can’t blame my vagueness about the timeline on Joel because I don’t ask him to read my blogs unless I’m really unsure about something, and I thought this one was pretty darn good! My mistake was not sending it to my friendly reader who would have spotted the post’s fatal flaw right away!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for making me laugh on this rainy Saturday when we’re having trouble with our sewer line. I needed it. I promise all your questions will be answered in my post on September 15th. And I can also assure you they won’t be nearly as funny as your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I read this while we were in Denver for JL’s appointment. When we left I looked at his vital signs and the heart rate was 60, the low side of normal. I will definitely be watching him!

    I remember the picture that Joel sent and what he told us. It was so scary and we were all relieved that things turned out well. I also remember when your Mom received her pacemaker. We found out that she had been pulled over for speeding again by our Angel of the highway patrol!

    Wonderful post Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t heard that story about Mom, Janice. I love it. I asked Joel to find the photo of my battered face on his computer or phone so I could use it with the post, but it seems to have disappeared. Was JL’s appointment a routine wellness exam?

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  15. Oh no! I hope you are okay. I’ll be watching for your next post.

    By the way, last week my dad fell down the back stairs of his house (two of them), broke his thumb and ended up with 6 stitches in his hand, and 4 in his forehead. But his sense of humor is unbreakable, like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m fine, Shelley. It sounds like your dad and I are kindred spirits. I think one of the most important blessings of my life was the humor with which I was raised. That was how my family dealt with life, much like your dad.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. As always a great read if somewhat alarming. I can empathise with how disconcerting the experience must have been albeit some years ago. I recently tripped over a barrier that was placed in the car sales yard while I was looking at vehicles. Scraped knees, elbows and bruised pride even though I didn’t notice anyone else around. However, my greatest concern was the bottle of pink bubbles I was holding which survived the pavement connection. And no I hadn’t had anything to drink before the incident and we aren’t speaking of what happened after the incident …

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  17. Oh my goodness Aunt Beulah
    I held my breath the whole way thru this story until I realised the doctors had you sorted in the long run. I sighed with relief and then started laughing. I am sorry Aunt Beulah because I realise this was no laughing matter for you at the time, but I had images of you floundering like an upside down turtle in the mud, I know my husband would have made the remark about dinner too (only he would be fair dinkum). The intern who threw in the remark about a couple of wrinkles dissappearing among your sutures, and your thoughts to pair him up with Joel as Abbott and Costello, sooo! funny!!!
    I can feel your relief at having escaped without witness, you must have no sooner hit the mud and you were up and running again..I can just imagine you quickly looking around to see who had seen you.. love your humorous depiction of something that is really not funny, you have me laughing but I didn’t take my breath for a while, I must admit to being too concerned to laugh. I find it helps to find humour while sparring with threats to our wellbeing.
    I am glad this incident is 5 years behind you, but I imagine part 2 to this story was concerning for you, I won’t hold my breath this time, but only because I know you are OK now but I can’t promise I won’t laugh again.
    Love the way you write Aunt Beulah, lots of love and hugs💜
    From
    Annie in Australia 🌞 🌴 🌊

    Liked by 2 people

    • And I love the way you read, understand, and enjoy my writing, Annie. Thank you for that. It was a scary time for me, but my husband teasing me and making me laugh helped. You are right: humor helps us when our health is threatened, though the humor needs to be from the right people and done in the right way. The young, fresh-faced intern was so cute and grinned at me so fetchingly when he said some wrinkles had disappeared, that I had to laugh with him. As always, I smiled the minute I received an email saying you had commented, Annie, because I knew how much I would enjoy hearing from you.

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