Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dying for a cheeseburger and a pack of Marlboro's

So, in an attempt to get this surgery thing up and running again, I've switched doctors from the fat jersey guy in polyester pants to the Jon Gosselin lookalike at Temple University Hospital. The first time I met him he promptly wrote me a stack of prescriptions for various tests. So far I've been for an Upper G.I., an ultrasound of my abdomen and, most recently, a EGK and an echo cardiogram with a cardiologist. The upper g.i. results came back unremarkable. I am pleased to report that my stomach and small intestine is "perfect". My heart, however, is not quite so perfect. I spent two hours with the cardiologist this past Thursday. First, my blood pressure is so high it could power the space shuttle. This is news to me. Mere seconds before he took it, I had bragged to him that my bp was "always a perfect 120/80". This was not a lie. I have only had a high reading once. A few months ago when my doc took it. When the nurses take it, it's always been good. Then, during the echo he finds that the walls of my heart are "thickened". This is called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. In layman's terms: your heart is like tires on a car. If you take care of the tires, they can last you 40k milles or so. If you don't, they go much faster. My heart is like those worn-out tires. Basically, I'm heading for a heart attack at age 41. Just like my dad. This will never go away. But it is my fault. He says it's from years of unchecked hypertension. Who knew? I certainly didn't.

The good news is that with some weight-loss and me ditching the cigarettes, I can prolong "the tires" and drive safely for a good long time.

When I left the doc I simultaneously felt like I wanted to cry hysterically out of fear and dance around singing "I've got the golden ticket!" Because, while this is a death sentence in my current state (a chain smoking girl of zaftig proportions), it is the "golden ticket" to getting my surgery done. Horray! I have a co-morbid condition!

The funny thing is, I really didn't feel as scared as I felt like I should be feeling. The doc said "In your younger years, you really can kind of abuse your body with little consequence. Now, at your ADVANCING AGE you have to buckle down and take care of it." I nodded sagely. Using my best acting skills to act like I was prepared to "buckle down". Am I prepared to do the things I need to do to live a healthy lifestyle? I'm not sure. There's a big part of me that wants to eat yummy things and smoke endless cigarettes and drink late night cocktails. I have always been a "live for the moment" kind of girl. I don't think too much about the future.

Perhaps it's time to start.