I have had a pretty gnarly week… But I’ll just tell you how it started.
Exactly one week ago I was shocked by my defibrillator while on a run… A not exactly therapeutic dose of electricity was applied directly to my heart and body in response to my arrhythmic heart beating at an incoherent, 286 beats per minute.
I go for a run, winter has hit Vancouver (you know… because it’s almost october?) and I feel off. I remember my breath, heavy like a weight was sitting on my chest, wheezing. I remember thinking that any minute there would be that great inhale to clear up the dense, constricted space within me and I would be on my way. My awareness made it’s way through my body, my attention was taken from my chest to my hands. They were cold and numb feeling but I associated it with cold the first cold snap of winter. Then my feet, much the same, like running of stubs of pins and needles. I start thinking of the chest pains I had been having recently and the question they always ask at the hospital “Are you having any chest pains? Shortness of breath?”.
Finally I took all these clear signs as what they truly were. I raised my hand to my heart, and the blood, already struggling to make it’s way about my body flushed out of my face. “No, no no no no please don’t! Look I’m ok! I am slowing down ok!?” I slow to a walk, holding my chest, talking to an irrational vital organ in my chest. As I bend over the world slows, I look up to see this old asian man looking at me.
I avert my gaze and receive my first shock.
Weightless and paralyzed, the power of modern technology blasts through every pore of my body in less than half a second. I lose consciousness and regain dropping to my knees. I yelp… On one knee I turn to look at the asian man who I had seen before and words come out of my mouth without my willing “please help! I have a heart condition and my defibrillator has just shocked me!”… In hindsight this was probably a little too much information to start him off with. Based on his startled, frozen stature I yell “CALL 911!!!”
The second shock.
Now that I think about it I know the feeling I had before it happened… like a churning in my stomach. A sickening feeling like walking home late at night by yourself. Before I can form the thought it hits me. It drops me. Almost to assert it’s dominance over me. YOU are NOT in CONTROL! I scream this time, because this isn’t supposed to happen. I’m scared. I scream for help.
This is a moment I will never forget in my life. Seeing their faces, seeing them change. Screaming at someone when your life depends on it redefines human communication. If you make that sound, you could be screaming bingo numbers, the immediate world of human beings will understand what you need. Hearing that sound escape my mouth scares the shit out of me.
I lay on the ground, in the rain, clutching my chest, energy and electricity ringing in my ears. Faces over top of me asking questions I already know they are going to ask… with the mother fucking Science World IMax dome in the background… I realize… I’m ok.
I cry… I’m embarrassed and frustrated because this isn’t the first time, and I know what happens when this happens. Like a kid getting caught stealing there is an impending consequence. Something is about to be taken from me. My ability to run? My freedom to exercise? My chemically free mind? This story does not end with the same 20 year old who entered it. I am doomed to change, handcuffed by it. So I laugh, that uncomfortable laugh that makes people cringe when they hear it… because it’s filled with sadness. I begin making jokes “gosh this an awfully morbid place for me to lay down eh?” and talking about the situation at hand as though it happened to a friend I once knew. Denial phase engaged. The ambulance attendants arrive to the best patient they’ve had all year. Conscious, educated about his situation, and fully mobile. Frame it, hang it on the wall.
I went back the next day… I took these photo’s laying in the spot where it happened and sipped a pumpkin spice latte.
I know that this post is not my usual positive Levi material that I put out. But this is the other side. Thanks for listening.