Life is Tenuous At Best


Atina the Amazing Malinois was trying to climb this tall tree that you see here.  I looked where her gaze was riveted, and thus is what I saw: the back end of a raptor of some sort, white underside, soft, with enormous grasping talons.  I knew the rest of it must be on the other side of the branch the corpse had been draped over, or rather, dropped over by the triumphant winner of what must have been a hell of an aeronautic battle.  No blood, which points to a slam from above, a tactic used by other raptors to rid themselves of competition in their hunting territories.  Here is the other side:


The young raptor’s beak curves off to the left.  You can see how she is just draped across the crotch of this piΓ±on pine, as if she was simply dropped there.

Well, she was.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.  She was too high up to have been put there by people, who use this place in the forest on the Coconino Plateau, close to the Grand Canyon, as a hunting camp.  You can tell from the numerous white-picked skeletons of young elk and deer, headless and mostly whole except for the parts easily hauled off to be picked by the eaters of carrion.  And the young raptor, so far, has been left alone by Nature’s cleanup crew, so it must have happened very recently.

I had a heart attack five days ago.

It happened at about 6:15 on Monday morning.  I was awakened by a piercing pain on the right side of my head.  My blood pressure has been out of control lately, and I’ve been trying different meds to bring it down.  The one I’m on helps some.  I tried a tiny dose of a beta blocker, but my pulse went down to 48 and stayed there.  The next one clashed with my lithium so I couldn’t take that.  Another one is now waiting for me at the Walgreens in Flagstaff, but I’m chilling on the Plateau.  I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Monday morning.  When I had the big pain in my head I thought, well, here it is, now I’ll really lose my whole left side.  At least language will be preserved, though, since the stroke is in my right brain.

But that pain went away, and suddenly my left chest got crushed by a great weight.  The weight also crushed my throat.  I couldn’t believe it.  I could barely breath.  My chest wouldn’t move.  I couldn’t move.  All I could do was wrap my arms around my chest and moan.  Atina plastered her full length against my side, panting.  I also panted.  I couldn’t expand my chest without aggravating the already excruciating heart pain.

It took maybe two hours before I was able to move.  And the rest of that day, all I could manage was to make my way from the bed to the bathroom, and back to bed.  Atina did get to go outside, but not for our usual two to three mile walk.  I gradually recovered my energy over the next few days.  I think I’ve been having some episodes of angina, heart muscle pain that comes and goes.  I’ve been having that for some time.

Listen, I found out the body does not like heart pain.  At all.  When the heart is not getting sufficient oxygen, it screams.

This is the third episode of heart pain I’ve had.  The first was maybe two years ago.  That time the pain woke me from a deep sleep.  It sat on me for hours.  I kept thinking, I should perhaps dial 911, but the phone is on my bedside table and I can’t move.  They always tell you it feels like an elephant is sitting on your chest.  They are right.

I had a third, smaller one in between the bigger ones.  That was when I tried to seek care at a large hospital with a large reputation, and ended up leaving without being seen because they were so rude to me I thought I was going to have a stroke.

I’m not afraid of dying.  I am afraid of the medical establishment, and I am afraid of having my life even more dominated by tests, invasive procedures, and “experts” than it is already.

For example, the only real way to find out what’s going on with my heart is to do a cardiac catheterization.  They thread a fiber optic tube through a blood vessel in your groin, all the way up into your heart, and from there they shoot some dye right into the three major arteries of the heart, and watch where it goes on a screen.  This way they can see whether the vessels are blocked, and if so, where and how much.  If the vessel is only partially blocked, they can open it with a balloon and maybe put a stent in there to keep the vessel open.

That sounds pretty simple, and most of the time it is.  But my blood vessels are very friable, meaning that they rupture easily.  Like, just opening a cabinet door, or walking over the edge of a rug.  Any little bump or stress, and I’ve got a painful hematoma.  So a major vascular procedure would be terribly risky. 

I’m much more afraid of a cardiac cath than I am of a crippling or fatal heart attack.  I just have to figure out how to save Atina from being locked in the van with me if it happens.  I’d call someone, but when this happens I’m unable to move.  So I’ve taken to leaving the doors unlocked at night.  Hopefully someone would show up eventually and let her out.

I wish all this grim stuff was not reality.  I have so many things I want to do, finally, and now this.  I feel as if I’m in the grip of some evil force that is making my life into a big joke.  I’ve been feeling that for decades, but the joke is getting worse and worse.

Leave a comment


  1. Oh my god Laura! You had a heart attack and you didn’t go to the hospital? Please go, can’t they just do EKG’s and find out whether you’ve had a heart attack? Or do echocardiograms to figure things out? Please go and have yourself checked out. Think of Atina. I haven’t had a heart attack as far as I know but I have a PFO and haves had a stroke sometime in the past! That was pretty surprising news. I’m supposed to be on a baby aspirin a day but I too get hematomas from it πŸ˜• so I stopped taking it. But you go and please get yourself checked, don’t just do nothing. Love and hugs.

    • Thank you, Samina. Tell me, what would I do after the ultrasound showed a dead piece of cardiac wall? Nothing. I can’t take blood thinners. I wouldn’t survive any kind of surgery. Nothing whatsoever to do about it.

  2. I can’t press like. I share your fears about the medical establishment and I’m not even a doctor…and you are. I hope you are okay.

    • I’m not at all OK, and yet facing my mortality makes it all OK. I appreciate things more now that I know what this feels like. Maybe I needed this to wake me up. We don’t notice our mortality near so much as when it is staring us in the face. Thank you, I really appreciate your concern. And I forgive you for not hitting “like” πŸ˜‰

      • I understand. Two years ago i went into the hospital for BP that was 204/163. Everyone was freaking out and I was all if ii go, whatever. It woke me up some. I hope your experience does, too..

  3. i hope you are ok and didn’t suffer any disabling effects. I know a cardiac cath sucks. my father just had one and they went through the arterial vein in his wrist rather than the groin. Hope you get your BP under control as well. Sending you positive thoughts

    • Thank you! They went through his wrist???!!! Must be something new. I’ll avoid those things. So far, except for ongoing angina, I seem to be OK. I managed to walk a very slow mile, stopping every few feet, so that’s something.

      • Think you need some nitro for the angina but I don’t think I’m telling you something you don’t already know….

        • For some reason nitro has fallen out of fashion, don’t know why but I am going to ask my FNP this week. I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t like pain. Problem is, even if I had a nitro cap taped to my wall next to the bed, I still wouldn’t be able to use it because it literally feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest. I am totally immobilized by the pain and pressure. Can’t move at all. Can’t even get to my small stash of pain pills that I save for fractures and such. On one hand it would be nice to have a partner in such cases, but the person would probably freak out and call 911, and I 100% would rather die.

          • maybe you can wear them around your neck or something. Just thinking out loud. I hope the pain goes away. That’s not the way to go. Keep in touch so I and the blog world know you’re still kicking. I think of you often and worry when I don’t see a “like” or a post in a few days. I know you have your issues and stuff and I respect them. You know I do. I will miss you a great deal if your time is up, which I hope it’s not. I just hate seeing you in pain.

  4. Oh my!! I think it must be worse when you know so much about the human body and I wonder if this “knowing” is scaring you from investigating at least. My mom had angina for 10 yrs and they always said is was her nerves (she suffered major depression) finally she was rushed to hospital and had quadruple by-pass…and another 3 yrs later. Perhaps they were not using stents then…but that is what finally saved her…such a simple procedure that saved her life. She had weird veins too as I do…bruised easily. I hope you find a the proper meds to stablise your bp and feel well soon. Thinking of you.

    • Well…your mother has to be one tough cookie, to endure not one but two bypass surgeries! I’m not so attached to life. I’d rather go on to what’s next, if there is anything. I’d like to find out. This life has been excruciatingly painful, both physically and mentally.

  5. For God’s sake get your BP in control Doctor Laura. This is worrying me. You are alone with a dog and I have to wonder if you are hoping to die. I know you are miserable with so many things wrong but you have things to do and places to see and bloggers that care about you and a dog that needs you and you need her. Excuse the “ands” but that is my best writing for now. Get well please.

    Fond regards,

    • Thank you, Yvonne. My BP is slowly getting under control. I start a new pill tomorrow. I take good care of myself. I’m at my ideal weight, I walk 2-3 miles a day, I live a beautiful lifestyle, I eat good food. I take medicine for the angina, which helps some. I have a devoted service dog. And I’m not afraid to die. You’re right, I would/will welcome death. We have become like soldiers whose mission is to conquer death. I have been on the front lines of that battle. I have won some and lost some. I determined early on that I do not wish to be a part of that battle, when it comes my turn. But I have been locked in deadly combat with Death for so very many years, that I am tired. If Death wants me, so be it. I’m still here though.

  6. im sorry, so sorry you’ve had a heart attack with no help, no support, more than once. i’m sorry that the kind of luck you have is bad luck. hope things get sorted out better.

  7. Holy crap, why why why? That’s awful and frightening. I wish you weren’t alone. Any chance of picking up a floater to hang out with you during your travels?

  8. Thank you for the word “friable.” My mother, too, has friable veins – the result of decades of chemotherapy. Honestly, I think it is wonderful that you do not fear death, and worry more about Atina should you die. We all will someday die. No need to live in chronic, intractable pain. I send you my love. God is with you, as you know, both in your pain and in spite of your pain.

    • Thank you, dear Kitt. I also worry more about Atina than I do myself. I’m working on figuring out how to provide for her safety. Any ideas are welcome.

      • I wonder whether living independently makes sense given your poor health. Are you on Medicare? If so, you are eligible for home health care provided by Medicare. Find yourself somewhere to make your home, to “permanently” park your camper. If you are checked on regularly, Atina will not be left behind for long. You need to find caregivers for her and put it into writing. Best of luck. The end of our lives is important. Plan where and how you want to spend the end of yours. Sorry for being blunt. My parents are in their twilight years. No reason to pussyfoot around the subject of death. You and Atina are in my prayers.

        • Laura, this is sad. Plz contact medical services.

          I agree with kitt

          May be this is the time you can contact your mother or son and stay with them for some time atleast.

          May be a last try to clear the karmic connection with your mother.
          Love and light

          • Thanks, Ashu. I appreciate your good intentions. The last thing I need is to be lectured constantly about my failures (mother), or to be shunned because of my failures. Karma also leads to death and/or disability, and those things would be made much more agonizing being around toxic people. The medical procedures that would be done would kill me in a much more traumatic way. I prefer to live until I die and not subject myself to further trauma.

            • I forgot to say: family relationships in the US differ radically from those in India. Although I know from experience that Indian mothers can be just as horrible, in general children have a deep sense of responsibility to their parents. Not so here. My son actually invited me to stay by him for a national holiday, then told me to leave the next day (I was having a migraine headache and needed to just relax and let it pass) because he “wanted his space back.” Not that I take up much psychic space. I am quiet and retiring, actually. So he is not an option for…anything. I was born alone, and unless he changes, I will die alone. I want nothing whatsoever to do with my mother, except to go to her funeral, if I am still alive.

              • Yes Laura, I can understand what you mean by not being with toxic people. I marvel at your courage to say so despite such adverse situations.

                Thankfully family in India is still a relief despite many many problems. Though children have started turning out alarmingly ungrateful and selfish.

                Is old age home an option? You have best of infrastructure and medical support at such centres and its not a taboo like in India.

                • Well…old age homes are for people who are either actually old, like 80 or so (I’m 62), or for people who really cannot take care of themselves, and don’t have anyone else that is willing to care for them, for instance, when my father was in the nursing home, there was a woman in her late 20’s who had cerebral palsy who lived there because her family didn’t want to care for her. She was a very sweet woman, too.

                  I can’t be around other people for more than a few minutes every few days. I can’t stand being around people. I become terrified and overcome by the urge to escape, which I do at the first opportunity.

                  I am very content to meet my fate alone. That’s how I want it.

                  The new generation of Indian youth is spoiled. I noticed that they are always wanting the newest phones and motorbikes…very Westernized. It’s too bad. But I mostly met young people who were part of close knit traditional families. That warms my heart to see generations of extended family living together in compounds, living life. I was envious! Is your family close?

                  • Yes Laura, things are fast changing now in cities. Rural life is better.

                    Whenever I have complains in my life, I just thank God for the family I have . Not just parents and siblings but all my extended family and friends who have become family over the years.

  9. Oh sweetheart! I wish I was close so I could call in on you! You are courageous beyond measure.

  10. The Grundlands

     /  April 11, 2016

    I’m thinking about you sweet liebele. My heart hurts reading about your hurting heart and physical pain. I love you so much. Wish we could hug tight, drink a cup of tea, vape something, and just talk….maybe by a campfire looking up at the stars…refua shleima. xoxo, srr

    • Amen, precious one. I’m kind of stuck in Flagstaff right now or I’d collect on that hug for sure! Except you’d have to go easy on me, or something would break. But not my heart xoxoxoxo

  11. Not clicking like on this one because I don’t like it!

    I wonder if you could put a sign in the window of your van to say something like “if I’ve not been seen for 12 hours and the dog hasn’t been out to pee in that time, please knock”? Then, should said instructions be followed, Atina would attract attention at the knock and help could be sought for her. Just a thought.

    Xxxx ❀ ❀ ❀


What's your take?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: