I’m home from work today, because of the Veterans’ Day holiday. When last we spoke, I was dreading an appointment at the Ross Heart Hospital, since it has been six months since I learned about my thoracic aortic aneurysm. I had all kinds of worst-case scenarios playing in my head as I made my way to the Ohio State campus.
One of these days I’ll learn about the futility of worrying. I had the CT scan. The cardiovascular surgeon and the radiologist read it, and it turns out I don’t have to have a scan again until next year. (I found it amusing that The New York Review of Books sent me a checkbook-sized datebook/appointment diary for 2014 as a gift for buying a subscription. I christened it by turning straight to December 14 and writing, “CT scan, Ross Heart Hospital, 9 a.m.” I still have not filled in the contact information in the front cover!)
The news is not all worry-free, however. Dr. Whitson, the cardiovascular surgeon, mentioned that he was going to refer me to a cardiologist, because I told him about how I have pain that comes and goes in the left side of my chest, all the way up to my shoulder and sometimes into my humerus. (None of these twinges have lasted long enough to justify a trip to the emergency room–especially when I’m paying off Riverside Methodist Hospital in $50 monthly installments for my trip last May, the parts that insurance would not cover.) The pain lasts no more than four or five minutes, but during that time, it feels like that side of my chest is full of broken glass.
A day or two after the appointment, the cardiologist’s aide called me up and told me about the appointment on December 11 at 7:45 a.m. She may have tipped her hand a little too much, since she mentioned the trip may involve a cardiac catheterization. I had a co-worker once who hung a sign above her desk that said Eat a live toad before breakfast, and nothing worse can happen the rest of the day. I guess the same is true for starting the day by having a needle jabbed up your groin.
I’m writing this in haste, because I need to leave the house not too long after 1 for my monthly appointment at Optima Behavioral Health Care, meeting with my nurse practitioner for medication monitoring. This is a time-consuming event, not because of the appointment (which seldom lasts longer than 10 or 15 minutes), but because of the travel time involved, going way out to the borders of East Columbus, out by Mount Carmel East Hospital. So my goal is to have this entry safely in cyberspace before I head out to the bus stop.
We’re in the 11th day of NaNoWriMo, the much-anticipated and -dreaded (by me, and by all other participants) monthly writing contest. As of last night, I stand at 16,541 words, which is about one-third of the way there. I took the laptop to Kafé Kerouac and wrote there two or three nights, but I also goofed off one or two nights, more out of depression than laziness. I couldn’t seem to summon the energy to do anything more than watch DVDs of the third season of The O.C.
The subject I tackle this year is–NaNoWriMo. I gave it a different name, 50 K in Thirty Days, and it is semi-autobiographical through several characters. One character is a single father who is attempting to tackle the contest along with his teenage daughter. (The major change from my situation is that the father is a widower, not separated, as I am. Another is that his daughter is a lesbian, while Susie is bisexual.)
I go through the same scenario every night. The first few pages are like torture, but then I gradually pick up speed. NaNoWriMo keeps reminding its participants that the name of the game is quantity, not quality, so there are times when I write prose that I’ll marvel over, and there are times when I’m veering very close to word salad. By the time I have reached my quota, there are times when I want to keep on going, but at the same time the mental and physical exhaustion have reached their peak. I’m quite fond of a Louis L’Amour anecdote: “One day I was speeding along at the typewriter, and my daughter–who was a child at the time–asked me, ‘Daddy, why are you writing so fast?’ And I replied, ‘Because I want to see how the story comes out.'” That’s the way this project stands at the moment. Ask me how this story will resolve itself, I cannot tell you. (I am not a big fan of Louis L’Amour–the Old West has never held my interest, although I do respect the fact that the man meticulously did his homework when he wrote his books, consulting newspapers, letters, diaries, and memoirs of actual pioneers and cowboys.)
|Ross Heart Hospital, on W. 10th Ave. in Columbus.|