Feb 23, 2017

Hello Rock, Meet Hard Place (A Life Update)

Eleven days ago, I decided to make one of those cauliflower dishes that mimic mashed potatoes.  And by "mimic mashed potatoes" I mean add a bunch of high fat stuff and make believe that the dish is both healthy and tasty.  So I pulled out this mondo size cauliflower and rested it on the counter and got a couple of knives out of the drawer.

While I was standing there debating which knife to use to get the cellophane wrapper off* the cauliflower, an enormous blast erupted in my chest. Loud and painful and scary as hell. For a split second, I wondered if I was dead. Since heaven will include actual potatoes and not cauliflower, I quickly nixed that idea and realized that my ICD** (implantable cardioverter device) had gone off.  I started screaming and crying, and pretty much kept that up, on and off, for about 12 hours.

Ambulance, emergency room, and it was quickly clear that the ICD had "misfired," meaning it had tortured me by mistake as opposed to saving my life.  My heart was fine, but my head was not. Spent a night in the hospital and did not move except to go to the bathroom. I sat upright in the bed, afraid that the ICD would go off again.  I insisted that they turn off the ICD and one doc after another declined to do so.  Finally I heard from my own doc who tried his best to convince me to keep it on, but I persisted, and eventually they turned off the ICD.  (They use some type of magnet and software).

The Rock:  So now I have this thing on the inside of my body with a bunch of wires near my heart that is there for no reason at all.  Maybe I'll go into cardiac arrest, but the ICD won't save my life.  I'll never finish Stamping Destroyed My Life and we'll never learn what happened to M.  To quote my doc, "you'll die when you could have lived."  (Sounds harsh but he's been unbelievably nice about the whole thing.)

The Hard Place:  On the other hand, if I let them turn it back on, I will sit in a chair afraid to breathe, walk on the stairs, stamp, drive, take a shower, or go to sleep.  Eventually, I'll die of boredom from re-watching every episode of Law and Order and might even have to watch Law and Order Criminal Intent, which is a seriously creepy way to go.  I start to shake just thinking of turning it back on.

I have an appointment next week with my other cardiologist -- the "device doctor" -- and will try and get the courage to turn it back on, if she can explain to me why it misfired and why it is unlikely to misfire again (some folks have a series of misfires -- it goes off every 30 seconds for 5, 10, 20 times or more. I shudder.)  Not sure I can do it though.

In case you are wondering why I'm writing about this on the blog, I will tell you it is my way of processing the decision and coping with the anxiety. I do not know what I will do, but in the meantime, guess how much I spent on stamps, inks, and dies in the past eleven days?***

I'll let you know what I decide....thanks for listening!

________

* Interestingly, Mike tells me that he found the cauliflower unwrapped on the counter.  Apparently, the shock took out some brain cells.

** As I mentioned here, I have a heart condition that could cause sudden cardiac arrest.

*** A lot.

34 comments:

  1. Joan, I found your blog while you were alternately beating yourself up and venting about your mother. I wouldn't expect anything else of you in relation to yourself. I'm not a doctor, but I am a mother. Give up cauliflower!

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  2. oh Joan - i hope your doctor tells you it will really be ok to turn that thing on again -'cause i don't want you, your blog, your cards, your humor to go away - take good care of yourself. and like Janet says - "forget the cauliflower"!! hugs.

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  3. Joan, so sorry for the very traumatic experience! The ironic truth is that not all the advancements in medicine actually improve the quality of our lives even if they can prolong it. I hope your doctor can help so that you have both quality of life and the benefit of technology!!

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  4. Well what can I say? You had a terrible shock and your reaction is understandable. You your family and your doctor need to discuss the situation and you need to come up with a solution that is well thought out taking into consideration the facts at hand. I do hope it works out for you, it's sad to think of your suffering and plus you need to be able to break out all those new supplies and use them. Take care.

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  5. YOU are one gutsy lady!! To have gone through an experience such as that, then sit down and write it up with such candor and humor is amazing. You, your family and your doctors are in my prayers as you work to finding a path that is best for you. Hugs,
    Lu C

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  6. Oh Joan, I am so sorry to hear that you had this traumatic experience. And I'm very glad to hear that you are home and "doing okay". It seems health issues are so very often a few steps forward and then a step back, forward, back, etc. In a glass half full kind of way, it may have misfired, but at least you now know the thing works. A test run, so to speak. I pray that you can come to a decision that you can be content with. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful things that you create with your new purchases...go enjoy yourself.

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  7. Oh Joan - I'm so sorry that your life saving device decided to make your heart do double time. I know this is fresh in your mind, I hope you'll consider turning it back on again. I know... easier to say when it's not me. BUT, I know you are strong and brave... and a mother and a wife.

    If anything else, I know you'll do this for your son and Mike. And besides, you've got great new stamping goodies to enjoy and a life to live!

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  8. Holy cow, you've been through the wringer. I've no doubt you've gone ICD shy after this, with good reason. I have no advice, as it's a personal decision, but I want you to be safe and well. You'll make the wise choice that's best for you. When I'm too tired or distressed to be creative, I tend to shop, as well. I'll look forward to the results of that when you feel up to it. You'll know more after your "device doctor" appointment.

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  9. It was the cauliflower's fault! Seriously though, you and Mike will figure it out after you meet with your doctor. Hugs.

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  10. Glad you're ok....scary to have your chest get blasted. Stamp on!

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  11. Sending you a big hug, Joan, and prayers for some comfort and rest for your mind. No matter what choice you and your family make, you are loved. Hoping for the best. XOX

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  12. Hi Joan! Another wonderfully written blog post. I always look so forward to seeing them pop up in my feed. Wow! That was absolutely traumatic and your reaction is totally understandable. That would create anxiety in any of us. My two cents, if this device will save your life, turn it back on. Then pray that it doesn't have another misfire (which it may never happen again). If you were my Mom I would want you to please turn it back on. Anxiety can be dealt with, sudden death can't. Keep us posted!! We all love you!!!

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  13. How utterly terrifying for you! Sending payers your way in your processing. I can not imagine your struggle....

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  14. Joan, I feel for you. You ARE between a rock and a hard place! Your peace of mind is at stake here as well as your heart! This would be a hard decision for you to make! I'll pray for you on both counts!

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  15. Isn't technology wonderful....when it works properly? How terrifying it must have been when your ICD went off unexpectedly. It would be a hard decision for me to turn it back on, especially if it scared me out of my wits. I would probably have had a heart attack from the fright. This is a decision you and Mike will have to make. You, because it's you that this happened to, and Mike because it affects him, too. I'm not a religious person, but God says every hair on my head is numbered (and I am fast losing them), and when it's my time to go, I will go, whether I have an ICD or not. I would have to think long and hard. But that's MY own individual feelings. You have to do what's right for YOU. And I trust you will. Sending hugs and prayers. Go enjoy your new toys.

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  16. Just wanted to pop on here and tell you how sorry I am to hear that you're going through this, Joan! I can't even imagine :(

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  17. I'm so sorry you had to experience that. I have no advice but I'm sure you'll make the right decision because you're obviously quite the thinker and you will work it out. (1) Please advise on what knife is best to open nuclear-resistant vegetable wrappings. (2) I'm thinking your decision is already made - come on, Law and Order Criminal Intent?!!

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  18. You poor thing! Honestly, I don't think I would have survived the rat hallucination from a few months ago (I still tell people about that - then they ask me which friend this happened to and I have to admit I've never actually met you) much less the chest explosion. This sucks. I'm hoping the device doctor will put your fears to rest so you can stop watching Law and Order. However, if that is the route you ultimately choose, could I send my husband down to watch with you? I'm sick of him sitting on the sofa watch L&O!

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  19. Oh Joan! So glad you are okay, I can't imagine how scary that must have been. Your candor and sense of humor about your life struggles and your beautiful cards brighten my day. I can understand how this is such a difficult decision. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  20. I'm so sorry to hear of this terrifying event. I can understand not wanting to turn it back on, but if it will save your life it is worth it. Have they checked to see if it is defective? Maybe having a new one implanted will give you peace of mind. Looking forward to reading your blog for many years to come. Please take care.

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    1. I'll see the doc on Monday and learn more. These things are more than $40,000 so the chance that I'd get a new one is slim. It is not uncommon to get inappropriate shocks. Just part of the package.

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  21. There's not much I can add to the comments already made, but I feel bad for you. I can't imagine how terrifying that experience was for you. But by the time you see your device doctor, you will have calmed down somewhat (at least I hope so) and may have changed your mind about the ICD. I often go into a major tizz about something and then, three days later (it's always three days), I return somewhat to normal. Will be praying for you and your decision. I hope you will reconsider, because I L-O-V-E love reading your blog. And I add my recommendation to those who have said "forget the cauliflower."

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  22. My 2-cents worth...my husband had an ICD and it never went off! After 3 years his chest beeped to alert us the battery needed changing and that was accomplished without any problem. He passed due to completely unrelated health issues. So, Joan, I am so sorry you had this scare so am sending love and best wishes to you and your family. Thank for letting us know what you have gone through. I've admired you and your writing and cards for years!! :-)

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  23. Well, that was a shocking experience, wasn't it? All right, enough of the puns. ☺ Can I offer one piece of advice? The fears we have about something that might happen are usually much worse than the thing actually happening. As someone has already said "at least you know it works ", but if it does happen again, you'll survive it - you already have.
    All of my love and wishes for good health. ☺

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  24. Wow.... Just... Wow! You are very articulate, terrible experience but you relate it with verve and humor!

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  25. Wow.... Just... Wow! You are very articulate, terrible experience but you relate it with verve and humor!

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  26. Please turn it on again. What could happen if you do not is fatal. Try not to panic. So terrifying. Will pray4u.

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  27. Prayers for making your best decision(s) going forward. Doctors don't know everything. They depend on us, their patients to guide them in our good health. Peace and blessings.

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  28. No advice, just lots of prayers for wisdom, clarity and healing. Thanks for sharing your story here; I understand all too well that sometimes we have to laugh so we won't cry. But remember that crying is ok, too. Just as we can laugh together, we can cry together. Believe me, it does help. And I hope it helps a little to know that your blog friends care very much for you.

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  29. Hi Joan, when I first started reading your blog yesterday I imagined that you cut off your finger (or something) making that cauliflower. Never thought about your device misfiring! I send you good vibes for tomorrow when you see the DD. Device Doctor. Looking forward so much to hearing what you will share with us about the meeting. Take care, stay tough!

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  30. I have long suspected that cauliflower is evil! This is proof. LOL Just thinking about having to consume a head of cauliflower was enough to trigger a misfire. Good thing you didn't actually eat it!!! ;-) I hope you find a way to overcome the anxiety of it happening again. I'm sure your loved ones and friends would prefer you to turn it back on. I swear, there is very little "health" in "health care" these days. I respect your decision regardless. There are things others can't fully understand until it has happened to them. Good luck Joan.

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  31. What a scary ordeal! I thought for sure you were going to say you cut your finger off or some such accident. Hopefully the doctors will find a way for you to go on healthily. (And I buy my cauliflower in the freezer dept under Green Giant steamers now. The riced ones are awesome!)

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