A Normal Heart

I called your name out twice before you came over to see my half-dressed body passing out on the bathroom floor. You woke me up each time I slipped into unconsciousness and held my hair back while I vomited into the toilet. You dressed me before the medics arrived and nervously explained what happened when they did. Then you watched four of them wrap me up in that black tarp and carry me away.

My dead weight caused the tarp to close above me as they carried me down the stairs. Darkness enveloped me once again. “We’re gonna keep you nice and comfortable, Nicole. It’s cold out here. Here’s a blanket and here’s a pillow. Now we’re gonna lift you up and slide you into the back of the ambulance. Welcome to Air Canada.” Somehow I managed to wiggle out a smile for that one.

They continued checking my blood pressure throughout the car ride, hooked me up to the EKG, measured my glucose levels, and stuck in an IV. The Air Canada guy came back. “Nicole, I’m the guy sitting behind you distracting you from the needles and everything they’re doing over there. How are you feeling? Stay awake for me.” I drifted off. Air Canada got my attention and pointed up to the halfway mark on the drip pouch. “You see this? When it gets to about here, you’ll start feeling a whole lot better. You lost a lot of fluids, but this is going to put them all back in you.”

It felt like an hour before you appeared by my side again in the emergency room. I bet I looked a whole lot different. My feet, hands, and face were no longer blue, but I had tubes coming out of my arm and stickers all over my chest and legs. I had a barrage of wristbands informing the hospital staff of my allergies, symptoms, and personal information. The drip was halfway through, though, and just as Air Canada promised, the clouds were starting to dissipate. I felt so relieved to see your face that I even let out a few tears.

After spending 5 hours in the emergency room, the doctor came back to inform me that my heart looks normal. “Good news: everything came back fine. Your heart looks healthy and the urine tests were all clear. Your iron is low so I’m giving you a prescription for a daily supplement. There’s just one other thing that I wanted to talk to you about.” She looked over at you and back at me before continuing, “Your protein levels and general nutrition is really low. Have you been eating well? Have you experienced any weight loss?” I told her that my diet had been a bit off due to my busy schedule and so I’d lost some weight, but that I wasn’t starving myself or anything. She didn’t find my joke funny and instead offered up information about the resources available to me if I’m having difficulty with eating. I thanked her and they discharged me.

They classified it as a vasovagal episode. Although it’s a very common diagnosis, I couldn’t help but fear the ringing in my ears and pins and needles through the left side of my body. If you hadn’t been there, no one would’ve known that I was lying unconscious in the upstairs bathroom. If you hadn’t been there, no one would’ve called the ambulance. If you hadn’t been there, I would’ve slipped into darkness alone, never knowing when I would wake back up.

So, no, I’m not sorry I’m scared. I’m sorry that when I said I was going downstairs because I was too anxious to sleep, you didn’t follow me. And no, I’m not sorry I asked you to stay. I’m only sorry that I asked you a question I already knew the answer to. And that even after promising myself I wouldn’t be, still felt disappointed to hear you say “No.”

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