Shocker on bike.

This week has the 100th frame in it!

This episode deals with the first time I received a real shock from my defibrillator. I remember getting it installed into my chest under my right clavicle. Normally they go under the left clavicle since that is a shorter distance to the heart where the two sensor strings will go, but being a lefty I asked to have it on the right to minimize strain and movement restriction on my main hand. After the surgery my shoulder was purple and blue and my arm was in a sling. I can’t remember if I had to stay overnight at the hospital but I think not. On the evening when I came home from the surgery I laid in bed reading the manual to the defibrillator and for some reason it felt really absurd to read a manual for such a serious medical device.

0104_ileftmy shocker

Either way, the manual talked about the different levels of shock that would be administered depending on the severity of the heart failure. For people who don’t know (and why should you?) the defibrillator sits in your body, monitoring your heart. If the heart starts beating slower than the pace you programmed it to, it will make it beat faster with the help of small electric shocks (like a pacemaker). If the heart starts galloping faster than the defibrillator was programmed to, it shocks the heart back into normal pace. It is the same procedure as you see on TV shows and movies about hospitals, where the nurse has two clothing iron-looking things in their hands that they put on the passed out patient’s chest and scream “Clear!” The manual told me that the highest level of shock administered felt like a horse kicked you in the chest! What a great evening read! The consolation was that apparently at that point, you’re in such a bad shape that you’ve already passed out. Phew… I guess.

The shock that happened in this episode was luckily the most severe I had to experience during my time wearing it, but it was enough. The best way to explain how it felt is “like being electrocuted”. I think I did a small jump on my bike and let out an involuntary “ugh!!!”. I could feel it in my jaw and all of the body. It really did feel like it came from the inside. After, I got off the bike, tried to calm down and walked very slowly the rest of the blocks home. My transplant buddy Mike said he got shocked constantly in the month before he had his surgery. I can’t imagine the edge he must have been on, walking around knowing he could have that terrible thing happen to him at any time throughout the day.

Have a great week everyone and thanks for coming here!

So many reasons to worry…

This week is about worrying. When dealing with a serious condition there are so many opportunities to worry, if you’re that type, and I am. “I am staying active, but was I too active and now wore my heart down even more? Was I too lenient with the amount of salt I allowed in the food? My sleep is crappy, which leads to wear on my body which is wear on the heart, right?” You get it. It can just spiral into insanity. Which also wears on my heart!!!

Anyway, we all have to be cautious about different things in life, ill or not, and I guess the challenge is to find the right balance…

(fade up nature shot with some idiotic acoustic guitar plunking…) (no offense to the performer)


Mind body & death

This week deals with the mind body connection and death. It has been a heavy week and today is sad because my old co-worker and friend died from cancer early this Thursday morning. It is immensely sad and crushing. Apart from this guy being an incredibly nice and cool person in every way, I always felt a special connection with him, since we both had been seen by death in the way of being hit by life threatening conditions. The little silver lining, if there is one, is that he has been fighting cancer hard for six years which has brought a lot of pain, stress and hardship, so now he gets to rest. His wife and family is showing an incredible braveness in the middle of all this and it is reminding me that life is the last outpost. It’s the utmost point. Everything can suck and I can have massive complaints, I can be sad and angry, I can fail at a lot of things, I can be disappointed and frustrated, but in the face of death I desperately want the option to live! In the face of those choices everything pales and becomes pointless. I don’t give a shit what happens, just let me stay alive and spend it in whichever way with my family, friends and the world. I know my friend will have good travels and I will see him on the other side.

The fact of mortality becoming so real and feeling that death was looking over my shoulder was something that was tough. After being three years (!) out since my surgery, it is still tough sometimes, but it’s strange how much a part of my life it is now.

clinic_work mind body

On another note, today is the day I have my Annual. It’s something that Stanford transplant patients do once a year. I don’t know if they do it at other places. It is basically doing two days of tests regarding my health and making sure things are going along in the best way possible. X-rays, blood draws, sonograms etc. Today there was some waiting involved, so I took the opportunity to do some work on this comic in the clinic room. This first day, all of my tests looked good! Tomorrow there are some more tests and hopefully they will be ok too. The staff at Stanford really make me feel thoroughly taken care of which is something I deeply appreciate.

I hope everyone is doing ok and thanks for coming by to read. In honor of my friend, let’s make this a celebration of the privilege of getting to be alive and to be able to enjoy the world around us. Love!

Making up food

Hello again.

It’s Friday today instead of Thursday. What happened? I blame traveling, time zones, packing and un-packing.

I have been traveling again and it all went well without any snafu’s, not counting the on-set of jet-lags. The lag going East is definitely giving me a hard time as  I am reaching old age (or is it just having kids as traveling companions???). All I know is that we were up playing soccer at 5 am just to pass the time.

Also got to ride a bunch of trains, which I LOVE! It’s by far my favorite mode of transportation.

This week keeps on harping about the no salt diet. It will probably occupy a few more weeks since it was a central part of my life at the time. Translating dishes I wanted that were too salty to no-salt was a challenge but actually fun and interesting, and most of the time I was really happy with the outcome. Thai food was one thing I craved back then and I tried to crack the coconut soup (Thom Ka?) and the curries. The best result I probably got was a barbecue sauce from a guy in Kentucky. It is simply fun to make more of your foods.

Anyway, hope you’re into this week’s installment and that you’re all doing reasonably well.