“It’s easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so. I admire you, beloved, for the trap you’ve set. It’s like a final chapter no one reads because the plot is over.” – Frank O’Hara, “Meditations in an Emergency”
Breathe in four, breathe out seven.
Currently in the middle of a panic attack, and thinking I’m going to die. So, naturally, I’m writing about it.
I can see it. I can see reaching the point of death, confusion (can they save me?) and then nothing.
My scalp has been burning for a while now, and I may have had neck pain (or did I imagine it?). My heart burns (WebMD says “heart attack (female)”. Paul says, “No.” WebMD says, “Depression”. WebMD says, “Fibromyalgia.” Fuck you, WebMD).
Is this a headache?
I sent a message to the rheumatologist yesterday: “My head feels like it’s sunburned from the inside. Should I schedule an appointment with you, or can you refer me to a neurologist?”
If I die, this message will be in my medical records. And people will say, “She knew she was going to die. And no one did anything.”
Check my heart rate: 88 bpm (thanks, Fitbit). On the train, when the panic started, it was 101. I asked Paul to meet me and bring water. We walked home. It was 122.
My sister had a series of mini-strokes at age 32. I wish I didn’t know this. She survived; after many trials and tribulations, she got an MS diagnosis. I worry that I will not survive. That an aneurysm is waiting for me. And that it will not be knotted or mini. That it will be the end.
I wake up in the middle of the night, and this is all I think about. Whether or not it will be sudden. Whether my body is poisoned and I don’t know.
My grandmother died of a stroke. She was 70.
Both my parents are still alive. That has to be a good sign, right?
I smile. Both sides of my face are up. I move my tongue. I raise my arms.
Check heart rate: 85 bpm.
Head: still on fire. It cracks and I can hear it.
Every movement feels strange and unfamiliar. Is this the panic or something more sinister?
If I died, I wouldn’t know.
Deep breath in, out.
Maybe I never should have stopped taking those medications.
I took a baby aspirin when I got home. Those commercials used to say that it could help in case of, but I’m not a 50-year-old man playing tennis.
I sip my water slowly. I wonder how the body knows to function. I think I feel the pain above my eyes.
My skull radiates.
I need to refill the low-dose naltrexone. I keep forgetting.
I need to pay the bills sitting on the counter. I keep forgetting.
If I get an MRI done, they won’t find anything. They never have (see 2007-2008, the year of the migraine. I saw lights and color; called them “blue flashies” – they were never any other color than blue. Blue is my favorite color; did my brain adjust?).
I feel like a ticking time bomb. Like I know, but don’t want to.
I overheard a man today tell someone that he’s had three heart attacks. By the third one, he waited a week to go to the hospital after it happened. He didn’t want to deal with the doctors.
He was met with the following response: “There was a guy who had a heart attack in the shower. 30 years old. Too many young people are dying.”
I don’t want to be a statistic. Am I considered young, still?
Heart rate: 72 bpm.
This is not a lament of the things I never did, because chances are I never would have gotten to them anyway.
What is better: for there to be nothing, or for there to be something?
If it is nothing, but you know it is something?
I feel my body tense. Stretch. Crack. Repeat. My self does not relax, because it does not know how.
Remember to breathe.
If we could trade in systems, like cars. “I treated this body like shit. Can I upgrade?”