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White Coat Syndrome – Big Time

POST APPOINTMENT UPDATE:  I didn’t flip out! My blood pressure was 118/78 and my heart rate was 68 beats per minute.  SCORE.  Oh, and no death sentence.

My at-rest pulse rate is 62 beats per minute.  My blood pressure? I don’t remember the numbers, but it’s pretty darn low.  But as soon as I step into a doctors’ office (my pulse is rising right now just writing about it), I go INSANE.  I get hypertension.  My pulse races.  My head gets fuzzy.

It’s true.  I have White Coat Syndrome.

Today, I have to go to the doctor.  And there’s nothing wrong with me–it’s just a new patient appointment.  She’s probably not even going to take my blood pressure…but I am FREAKING out.

I don’t know if you know this, but I hate doctors.  Well, hate is a strong word, but I do hate the power that they have over me. I mean, they can look at me and say, “You’ve got 2 months…” and that’s it.  I’m done.  They’re couriers of bad news.

I have no reason to think that there is something wrong with me.  My panic attacks are mostly gone from two summers ago, but I’m not even kidding, my chest is tightening up.  And all I have to do is fill out paperwork!

Ugh.

I’ll let you know when I get back if I have 2 months to live.

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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Daily Happenings

 

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And Now I Have a Pig Heart…

So last night, I went to bed feeling quite unsettled.  I had the dream to prove it:

I was standing outside when two doctors pulled me inside and all of the sudden I was in my bedroom, but a very sterile version of it.  I wore a hospital gown and there were chest x-rays all over the room.  I was told I needed a new heart, and that they had one, but that I’d have to have the operation at that very second.

Without questioning anything, I agreed.  I stayed semi-awake for the operation.  I remember seeing my ribs and my skin splayed open and thinking, “I hope this works.”

They weren’t replacing it with a human heart, though.  They were using a pig’s heart.  I watched them pull my own heart from my chest, put it into a plastic bag and into a tank of formaldehyde, but the veins and arteries were still attached to it.  It was still beating.  With the pig heart in my chest, new veins and arteries were attached, and momentarily, I had two hearts.  They closed me up leaving just a tiny hole for the lines of my first heart.

When I was fully conscious, they told me to breathe deeply, and all at once, they cut the lines to my heart and the pig heart fluttered wildly, pounding against my rib cage to get back into the natural rhythm of things.  And then it did.

I felt relieved.  The doctor pushed on a couple of places and asked if it hurt.  I said no and lifted my hand to feel the stitches that went in a vertical line down my chest, and then looked up at a wall of photos from my past and although scarred, I knew that I was going to live.

CARMEN HELP!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Daily Happenings

 

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Things That I Hate To Do Alone

There are certain things that I do not like doing alone.  Some of them I wish I was more comfortable with.  Some of them just shouldn’t happen.

1)  Eating in a NICE restaurant alone.

2)  Staying in a hotel room alone.

3)  Walking around a big city alone.

4)  Walking around at night alone.

5)  Drinking alone.

6)  Buying a car alone.

7)  Living alone.

8)  Walking through parking lots/parking garages alone.

9)  Fishing alone.

10)  Watch scary movies alone.

11)  Go to a sporting event alone.

12)  Buying electronics alone.

13)  Trying to fix things that I am unfamiliar with alone.

That is all.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Daily Happenings

 

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The Cooler Pig

When you’re young, you love to hang out where you’re not supposed to.

For me  that was Grandpa Gene’s store:  Gene’s Drive-Thru Carry-Out.  I wasn’t forbidden to be there, but it was an adult world-one I wanted to know dearly.  “The Store” sat between two cornfields, with just a row of trees behind it to protect it from the dust when the wind picked up.  Neon beer signs and Cleveland Indians signs hung in the windows and a Snoopy bank sat on the Formica counter, right where the edges were peeling back to reveal the cork underneath.  Candy covered the wall next to the drive-thru, and a freezer full of ice cream hummed against the wall facing the road.  A wall of wine faced my grandparents’ house, just across the asphalt and over the clothesline, and a picture of my Uncle Mike was perched above a doorway with a sign that read, “I want to be like Mike, THE STUD!”

My mother and my aunts and uncle worked there from the time that they were old enough to sell beer.  I recall my mother, moving cases and smacking cigarette boxes against her palm between swigs from Diet Pepsi bottles.  When I was lucky enough to be at the store with her, (Grandma couldn’t take babysitting all of us grand kids all the time) she would pass me the Diet Pepsi and smile, scan a lottery ticket, and wait on the next customer who drove up.  My mom’s Diet Pepsis always tasted different than the ones I drank myself–like stale smoke and love and her perfume.

And I loved it.  I loved being out there, seeing my grandpa leaning over the counter on his elbows while he listened to a man named Squirrel talk about his wife and scratched lottery tickets.  I loved handing free Tootsie Rolls to the kids who weren’t lucky enough to have a grandpa who owned every kind of candy on earth.

But there was a whole world behind the front room of the store.  There were long hallways packed with boxes of beer, old signs and mirrors under moving blankets, and a heavy steel door that led to the cooler.

My cousin Meghan and I were always trying to get into the cooler.  We loved looking through the bottles of Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew to the glass doors that looked out into the store and made a sucking noise when they were pulled open.  And the way that the cases were stacked in the cooler made for excellent fort building and climbing.  During the hot summer days, nothing felt better than pulling open that heavy door, stepping into the foggy cool air and feeling the sweat freeze on our arms.

But sometimes the door was too heavy.

Grandpa had a lot of friends, and he bent over backwards for them on more than one occasion.  Grandpa also knew how to throw a good party, and when one of his friends decided to throw one.  Gramps helped out, but not in the way you might expect…

Meghan and I were really the troublemakers of the cousins, and we were constantly pretending we were tornado chasers, spies, explorers of unknown worlds–i.e. Grandpa’s store.  After some careful planning, we ran across the blacktop and hid in the brush behind the store.  Once there were no cars in the drive-thru and my mother and grandfather were preoccupied scanning lottery tickets, Meghan and I made our way into the backroom maze, hiding behind cases of beer and dollies.  We were only feet away from the cooler door when my mom spotted us.  We made a mad dash for it, and I felt the cold handle of the heavy door give way under my urging.

And we were in.  We turned around in the icy fog and stared at the door, pulling it shut against my mother’s advances to get us out.  And then she stopped.  We wondered what had happened, but decided to take advantage of our free reign over the beer mountains.

Then we saw it.  Right there.  On the floor of the freezer wrapped in Saran wrap and on a piece of cardboard was a big dead pig. Suddenly the cooler wasn’t so cool, and we were still sweating.  Its eyes were open and its legs lay unnaturally.  And although I’m sure there wasn’t a smell, we could smell it. 


We screamed, pushed hard at the inside of the cooler door, looking over our shoulders to make sure the pig wasn’t crawling out from underneath its plastic sheath.  My mother looked at us through the clear glass doors from the front of the store and I swear I saw her smile.  Slowly, more slowly than should be humanly possible, she walked around to the heavy door that, thanks to the vacuum of the cooler, we could no longer open.  When she finally pulled it open from the outside, we ran out gasping for fresh air and hid behind her legs before taking one final glance back at the pig.  Then we were out into the heat, feeling it come up from the blacktop as we darted across it to the dry grass on the bottom of our bare feet–where there were no pigs.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in When I Was Young

 

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Touching a Real Life Mannequin

It happens like this:

I am three years old, stringy blonde hair, clothes probably stained from a slushy, a pretzel, ketchup–all the Sandusky Mall food court goodies. Round little cheeks and sticky fingers, untied shoestrings and a whine that could compete with a tornado warning siren.

My mother is in a store somewhere, and my father is manning his seat on a bench out in the middle of the concourse.  In an odd turn of events, I wait with him instead of going into the store with my mother.  Perhaps she is buying a birthday gift, or a Christmas gift.  Perhaps I am being obnoxious.  Which I can only assume is the case.

From here, I will not pretend to know the details that led to the touch.   Maybe my father gets tired of my sticky grubby hands looking for entertainment in tossing fountain pennies, the bench, the bags of things we bought.  Maybe I cry out of boredom.

And then I see it.  I am already pointing at the mannequin three benches down, her porcelain skin, her legs crossed, one hand nonchalantly caressing her own cheek.  The other hand is perched on the knee of her crossed legs.

“What’s a mannequin doing in the middle of the mall, Daddy?” I ask.  I am three, and I watch Today’s Special, a television show about a mannequin named Jeffrey that comes to life when the doors lock and the lights go out.

My father asks, “Where?”  When he sees her, he laughs.  “I don’t know.  Go see.”

I do the thing where I take a step–one single step–and look to my father for his read on the situation.  Is this dangerous?

“Go on.”

I walk right up to her, stand there, stare at her.  She is perfect.  Not one hair out of place, her clothes pinned perfectly around her figure.  There are no stains or holes–just perfection.  I think about all the possibilities this mannequin has if she is like Jeffrey, if she can wander the entire mall instead of being locked into one store.  My hand twitches to touch her, so I twirl the front of my shirt around my fingers.

I look at my father and shrug back to him.  I know he knows I am thinking of Jeffrey.  He knows my curiosity is peaked.  I’ve never touched a mannequin.

He sees my hand go out, pull back, and I look to him for approval.  “You can touch her,” he says.

I’m thrilled.  My whole life has been, “Don’t touch that.”  I reach out for the hand that sits on her knee, and I expect the cool, hard, smooth porcelain.  But it is not porcelain.

The skin moves.  It is warm.  There are bones in her hand.  Three bones that I press my fingertip over while her skin bunches into a wrinkle.  I stare at the hand, watch the way the skin moves when I push it, and then I look up.  She is looking at me.

I run.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in When I Was Young

 

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