By Mary Margret Daughtridge
Wednesday August 3, I was so deep in denial that I was about to drown and hadn’t noticed the water was up to my chin. And rising. I had waked up feeling unusually bad—even worse than the terrible, which had become my new normal in the last three months. When I checked my blood pressure and pulse, the BP was 88/54 and my pulse was 41.
Fortunately, I already had a doctor’s appointment that day and as the CMA took my blood pressure I thought I should ask her what the red zone for BP and pulse was. Like how low did it have to be before I called 911? She turned round Hershey’s Kiss brown eyes on me and after a second said with Spock like curiosity, as if she’d never pondered the question before, “I don’t know. Let me ask the doctor.”
Ten minutes later I was wheeled into the ER where, unprecedented in my experience, the clerk waved me on and said he’d fill out the forms and take my insurance card later. I had never before been ushered into the presence of the gods of medicine without proof of ID and insurance.
As the minion rolled me past cubbies and glass-enclosed rooms and curtained-areas, I saw all the patients, and in a world-changing identity switch, for the first time I was not a guest, not a visitor – I was not, as always before, there to help or support them. I was them.
Secure in my denial, I was a little ticked off when all the doctors, nurses, PAs, orderlies, and even the housekeeping staff assumed I was being admitted for a pacemaker.
Fast forward – today is Friday and I have a pacemaker. In case you didn’t know, pacemakers are about the size of a silver dollar and the price of a new car.
As romance writers we are concerned with affairs of the heart. We describe and ascribe feelings, states of being, and even truth as arising from or about the heart. Think of all the ways we use it: heartfelt, softhearted... Linguistically courage and heart derive from the same root word. A lover is a heartthrob.
I find myself wondering, where does a heart that needs to be wired to a battery fit in? I pondered this little philosophical conundrum with a friend, also a romance writer, who suggested I make friends with my pacemaker and name it. I decided in the best romantic tradition to call it my beloved. Like the romance writer I am, I named it mon coeur.
And one day after surgery to insert the tiny device, I feel better than I have in a couple of years. My friends and loved ones look at me and exclaim, “At last, you’re back!”
And I am. This time, batteries included.