|Me amidst my fellow Starbucks patrons|
The best place to begin is always with a health condition, especially a health condition involving the heart. Nothing is more entertaining than a budding cardiac condition. In a nutshell: J. and I were on vacation in Chicago and one night, I had some wine, and then I had some chocolate (a winning combination), and then it felt like my heart was going to explode. But I'm in pretty good physical condition so I didn't take it very seriously. "I ALWAYS feel like I've run a 10K when I'm lying in bed at 3am," I thought to myself. "No biggie." But then we got back to NYC and I went to the doctor and she noted - with only mild terror in her eyes - that my blood pressure was "elevated" and so began my return to the bizarre world of cardiology.
In the past few years, I've seen more than my fair share of medical specialists after some health weirdness that started back in 2005. In fact, just a couple of years ago my blood pressure was so low that I wound up getting carted off in an ambulance after passing out in the middle of the night for absolutely no fun reason. Afterwards, I was sent to a young male cardiologist who performed an echocardiogram on me about 5 minutes after he had finished eating an egg salad sandwich that resulted in some pretty fierce indigestion. All I remember was my gown wide open and him belching into his hand. I learned nothing about anything having to do with my heart, but absolutely which Upper West Side deli to avoid. After that gem, I was referred to a 60-something female cardiologist with a visible eating disorder and a penchant for dressing like Baby Jane complete with hair bows. All she could tell me about my heart was that I was "Younnnnggg....And thhiiiinnnn." When I questioned her on all points, she fiddled with her polka dot hair bow, blew her nose, wiped at her incredibly excessive eye makeup, and sent me on my way. So it should come as no surprise that I was dreading being sent off to someone new.
Turns out Dr. New Cardiologist is far more medically thorough, though just as hilariously physically quirky. This time, in the way of older unmarried WASP-y ladies who have lamps with fox hunt themes in their office. Also a devotion to penny loafers. And thick eyeglasses from their halcyon school days at Brearley back in the late 60s. Her eyes were magnified to such a disturbing degree that at times I thought I might be hallucinating. I couldn't actually tell her that my racing pulse was the result of her 100x magnified eyes. But I digress.
So she takes my pulse with her incredibly clammy hand and decides to have me hooked up to a holter monitor for 24 hours. If you don't happen to be 80 years old, you might not know that a holter monitor looks very much like a bomb. The multiple wires taped to your chest are left to dangle outside of your clothing and then connected to a small purse which is then worn in the casual, across-the-body fashion of the early 80s (Or, if you happen to be German, last week). This gives the impression that you were previously very fashion forward before beginning your second career as a terrorist. Dr. Enormous Eyes also alerted me to the "Incident" button on the side of the holter monitor that I was supposed to press in the event of an "incident" such as a heart palpitation or, in my case, humiliation.
Like any disgruntled cardiac patient, I decided I needed something sweet to get me through the next 24 hours. At some point during my return trip to Brooklyn from the Upper East Side - and likely due to massive amounts of self-pity - I forgot that I was wearing my Unibomber gear and I headed into the Starbucks determined that a cup of hot cocoa - despite the 60 degree weather -would make everything better. Massive amounts of self-pity also meant that I forgot that my coat was wide open so when I entered the Starbucks I effectively alerted everyone that I was there for one reason only: To have my demands for a 1000 free cake pops and egg nog lattes met or I was going to go all Hurt Locker on the joint. First, a woman looks at me completely terrified and then runs out. I bitch slap her in my head because clearly she thinks she's cuter than me (which she is). The nerve of some people. And then I notice that the coffee line clears a path for me. Now I'm wondering if I smell. True, the puffy coat was excessive for a 60 degree day. Now I'm at the front of the line and the barista guy looks at me with a kind of nauseated panic. Still completely blocking out that I look like a homicidal Small Wonder, I point to my chest and tell the guy that I'm just going to have a cocoa today because "You know (point point), I can't have any caffeine today." He nods. Of course, caffeine will only contribute to my psychotic break. And then I remember. "It's not what it looks like," I say. And he says "That's good because it looks bad." And I blather something about my heart and a little about my self pity and he nods and then I notice that he's sweating a little bit beneath his Starbucks pins.
In the end, I got my hot chocolate and I buttoned up my coat and I'm still waiting to find out if humiliation can actually be detected on a heart monitor. P.S. I did end up hitting the "Incident" button and had to tell the doctor that my heart was pounding while I was in the process of terrorizing the neighborhood. She batted her enormous eyes at me, but seemed to take it in stride.
Next time: Fun with blood work