Saturday, January 22, 2011

Be Still My Heart

Although I've had (shitty) insurance for the last year and a half, I truly hadn't set foot in a doctor or dentist's office in that entire time. My last gyno appointment was in December of 2008, where I left with a mammogam prescription in hand, that ended up hanging on my refrigerator with a souvenir magnet from London. I kept getting postcards from the dentist, asking, no BEGGING me to come in for an appointment, as with every passing day my gums were being reduced to rotting flesh. I chose to pretend that I was invincible and that the need for doctors was completely wasted on me, and that was where I was happy to stay, until the day of the Broken Toe.

I started a new job in a satellite office for a very large company in a very small department, and one of my new friends was a yoga fanatic like myself. I started taking classes with her at her cool, downtown yoga studio in a loft in Tribeca. Unfortunately for me, the cool, loft studio also gets really hot, and people get really sweaty, and the floors are made of wood, and bare feet on a sweaty wood floor when you are me = falling down and breaking a toe.

I collapsed onto my mat and showed my friend my swollen big toe. It was breaking before our eyes. "It's fine, it's not broken" she said, not very convincingly, as it turned purple and started curving in abnormally. I hobbled out of class and somehow made it home, spending the night with an ice pack on my foot, every five seconds looking to see if it had miraculously gone back to normal. It hadn't.

As luck would have it, I was able to find a podiatrist who could see me the next day, but the crappy insurance I had been avoiding using all year demanded that I get a referral from my "primary" physician in order to see the podiatrist. When I called the primary care physician, they told me I hadn't been to see them in a bajillion years, and I'd better get my ass down there before I dropped dead of something.

I didn't think anything of it, but my stupid toe created a complete fucking domino effect of doctor's appointments. Well I guess it's not really my toe's fault, but I want to blame it on something other than me just being old and feeble.

While at the doctor, she whipped out her stethoscope and took a listen-nothing abnormal about that. What I didn't like was when she let the assistant take a listen, and the assistant said, very confused, "Her heart doesn't sound like other hearts." What what what?  The doctor smiled and said very nonchalantly, "Oh, that's just a murmur."

Excuse me?

I was incredibly freaked out at this news, because at my age I had never been told before that I had a heart murmur. I didn't even really know what one was. I asked her why she wasn't going to tell me and she said it was really no big deal.

Easy for her to say!!

She referred me to a heart specialist, which of course I put off going to as long as possible, because why did I want to go there so he could tell me I had a bad heart and was probably going to die soon, right? I mean, if I was going to die, I'd rather just drop dead then KNOW it was coming. Wouldn't you?

I finally made the appointment and the night before was out having drinks with my friend Reno, who I confided in that I was going to this doctor and really afraid of what was to become of me. Well, Reno had a heart murmur, and regaled me with all sorts of stories of things that had happened to him because of it (mostly mixing drugs and alcohol and ending up with fucked up arythmia's and shit, putting him in the emergency room a bunch of times). Somehow his fucked up stories made me feel a little better, or maybe it was the 3 martinis we downed. But the next day, I went to the heart doctor, and he showed me my heart on a screen, and my aorta, and all my valves, and he pointed out my murmur, and told me it was absolutely 100% nothing to worry about. I left his office with a little sheetlet about my new condition and felt a little better that I didn't have heart cancer or anything else wrong with my that little muscle in my chest. Yay.

At least I know why I get palpitations and fluttery from time to time. I always thought it was my anxiety (always been bad) or too much coffee (it definitely gets worse with caffeine). And I have my toe to thank. 


Ms. Pants said...

I was born with a murmur. The doctors I've seen can't detect it now, say I've outgrown it, but occasionally, I feel a weird flutter and I know that's what it is. But since I knew I was born with a murmur (and was told from the get-go that it was minor and nothing to worry about), I just let it go.

For the toe, I'd probably grit my teeth and set it myself as much as I could. Toes are kinda the "eh, we'll do what we can" appendages. You can't really put a cast on a toe, you know?

Also, I fall down all the goddamn time. Once I finally move out there, we can start a tally contest. :-)

i like cheese said...

Hey, we can start a Heart Murmur Club! Awesome!

As for the toe, I'm going to admit this is an old blog post that I started in October and finished writing yesterday...I'm having serious writer's block, yo. So my toe is fine. It was my big toe, so I had to tape it to itself, and wear a fucking ugly velcro shoe thingie. It was such a relief when I was allowed to wear real shoes again. OH and I had to use a bone stimulator every night for an hour, it was like a vibrator on my foot. I forgot to mention that little nugget.

Jen G said...

So glad you are writing again. I used to look forward to your posts--I would click over to you from the City Wendy site.

... said...

I'm glad you are writing again, too. You should tell all the mushy stuff! Use an alias.