Fiction is more fun…

More fun than nonfiction, and ideally more than reality. Fiction is an escape from reality. That’s probably why I’ve been climbing the walls – I’m wrapping up a little nonfiction project that I’m hoping might give the bank account a boost. Yet another reason I love fiction; money is never an object, unless the plot calls for it. But nonfiction – no action, no dialogue, just facts. No characters arguing in my head as I’m trying to fall asleep, no bodies to hide, no mental breakdowns and/or homicidal rampages. It’s soooo tedious, I can only do it for a few hours at a stretch – then it’s back to the happy mayhem, bloodshed, and insanity with Hazel, Otto, and the rest of the gang. I’m pleased with how Evacuation Route has come together as a complete story; I’m cleaning it up so I can put a bow on top and call it done. It’s one of the reasons I went dark online – I’d rather focus my writing energy on completing books then blogging about the ups and downs of my health. I have novels to finish, fictional people to kill, and I’m too stubborn to quit.

As for laugh, I give you Olympic sailboat racing, with commentary. I’ve found fellow sailors seem to find this more amusing than the general population.

What the hell ever happened to…

Yeah, I’ve gone dark for a while now.  Again. Not to say that I haven’t been up to a lot; I’ve just been staying off the radar. But I think it’s time to dust the cobwebs off this blog, and this is as good a time as any. Where to start is the bigger question. So I’ll start with some simple answers instead. First off, I am still alive. Moving right along.

For those of you reading this blog for boat repair information, there’s not a whole lot to update. Health and weather have conspired to keep that just out of my reach – now that I’m feeling up to it the extreme temperature is keeping me indoors. The frustrating thing is how close the boat is to being finished – there’s not much left to do to get her floating again, and I’m not ready to give up just yet.

For those of you looking up a writer who seems to have vanished, I’m still here, still writing. I’m finishing two books right now; Evacuation Route, and a little side project of a completely different nature that for various reasons needed to be written. Unfortunately, the battle between me and my health is been ongoing. One of the fun symptoms of dysautonomia is brain fog – a fun condition where low blood pressure isn’t getting enough oxygen to the top floor. As a result, no clear thinking. Not exactly conducive for writing, speaking from experience. Fortunately, my doctors and I have been fine tuning the right balance of medications and electrolytes to keep my head clear and sharp, and I’m finally gaining headway in what seemed a long uphill climb. I still don’t have the physical strength and stamina I once had and have to budget my energy through the day, but mentally, everything seems to be running right, (knock on wood.)

That’s part of the reason I haven’t been blogging –  I have only so much energy to get through each day. When I’m writing, it’s to finish something long overdue. Killing off imaginary characters is far more fun than dwelling on things I can’t do anymore – like work on a boat during a record heat wave. Hazel’s approach to problems is much more satisfying, and immersing myself in Hammon’s madness is a great escape from reality.

A conversation with someone earlier today left me thinking. This blog began about a boat restoration and writing, whether anyone read it, my books, or anything else. For a time everything was heading the right direction, then it all started going sideways. The old saying is “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” I’ll add that sometimes you’ll need to change your heading all together and tack like mad or end up on the rocks.

I’ve had to shift my heading a few times. The view’s changed, but I’m still underway. I’ll be adding occasional blogging to my writing schedule, though future topics might include antique sewing machines, creative gardening, and a bunch of mutts. Or whatever else comes to mind. Such as:

Some people watch kitten videos as an antidote to the nightly news. No kittens here, but this clip (found during writing research) makes me giggle.  Make it full screen, take your Dramamine, and hang on. Small Craft Warnings? We don’t need no stinkin’ Small Craft Warning.   This. Looks. SOOOOoooooo. FUN!


Things have changed…

The world in general, my life, and even the interface with this blog. ( I used to know my way around the dashboard, but nothing looks the same.) But I was long overdue to stick my head in, if only to make a few corrections, such as the heading.  My Dockmaster days have wound to an end – management made some restructuring changes, and with the hire of a new marina manager, I was gently told my presence was no longer required.

Uhm…?  I didn’t see that coming. On the other hand, the whole drive in that morning, I’d been imagining how nice it’d be to hear those words. And while I was a bit stunned, that barely registered over the racket from my muses, cheering raucously  inside my brain. I shrugged and replied, “Okay.”

That’s me. I roll with whatever you throw at me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved that place and the many people I came to know in my time there. And I do wonder how management will fare with their restructuring strategies, but I came to realize as long as I worked there, the constant and never-ending work, while enjoyable, was consuming all my energy and leaving me with nothing, creatively speaking. As long as I had that wonderful job, surrounded by boats and the river and some of the most amazing views, I was NEVER going to finish a book that should have been finished far too long ago. I watched boats come and go daily, traveling to all points, while I’d never finish my own boat, I’d never cruise beyond that spot, or do much of anything else. In short, as good as it was, I wasn’t headed where I wanted to be.

Still, it was a great job, paid great, was perfect for someone with my knowledge and skills. I loved that job. On the other hand, I had a great book -or at least an idea, and a clusterf*ck of notes, random chapters, passages, of what could be a great book if I ever finished it. On the trajectory I’d been following, that wasn’t happening. I’d written and published two books, but I was never going to finish the third. Ideas were already piling up for a fourth story, but that would never happen, not at the rate I was going. Something had to change.

And change it did.

Side note: Be careful what you wish for. And be more specific. Sometimes change comes in forms you don’t expect. Now I had all that time to write…I just had to make it work.   Workdays start early and go late. With batteries to keep me running, I’m writing at a strong pace.  I’d done it twice before with a struggling heart. I could do it again. I worried that the story had become the literary equivalent of too-many times reheated leftovers, so I ditched anything unappetizing or stale, and started from square one. And I re-re-re-re wrote the whole damned thing from beginning to end. Yes…THE END!

Now, we descend into REVISION TIME, cleaning up my notes and facts, smoothing the bumps, or making them even bumpier as need be.  I’ll be leaving a trail of potato chip crumbs, half-empty (full?) cups of cold tea, and disturbing internet searches if anyone’s looking for me. Once I finish this pass, and I’ll be shaking the trees for those brave and daring beta readers. And no, I’m not projecting times – we’ve all seen how that’s worked out. I’m just going to keep on the routine I have now – that completed this draft in half the time I expected.

I should have done this weeks ago, actually, but I’ve been a bit too busy. I only took a break now to eat lunch update a few things. And I’ll be online from time to time, but as for now, I’m going back to work murder and mayhem with my oh-so-twisted muses.

Choosing battles…


Yeah. I know. It’s been a while since I’ve poked my head into the internet. I’m still alive and kicking — more so these days than I’d been in years, thanks to the nifty bit of wires, circuits and batteries I’ve got neatly healed into my chest and heart. I feel like a kid again, and life with Sparky has been great. There’s absolutely no discomfort of any sort now, just a nice, strong, reliable pulse. Now it’s just a matter of catching up on a life that had been sputtering along, and switched to fast-forward in a hurry. So much is clamoring for my attention, and I’ve made a policy of limiting my focus to things most critical for moving forward — thought I’ve yet to determine where it’ll lead, and probably won’t know until I’m down the road and looking back.

I’m back at work, I have been since February, and things went into high gear almost immediately.  Haverstraw Marina is a huge operation, with hundreds of boats to commission and launch, something that takes organization, coordination, and few notes to work off of as we sped quickly into the spring season. Meanwhile, I’m looking at a house overdue on much freshening up, especially if we hope to sell it in a year or two, not to mention a boat that got caught in the crossfire of my failing heart and Frank’s advancing arthritis. Oh, and a novel I barely had time to write. I suppose I’d be overwhelmed if I had the time, but instead I’m just chipping away at the house each morning before work, and have some vacation time blocked out in a few weeks, when the spring madness has abated, to attack getting the boat back afloat. She’s close but time is limited so I’m not making any predictions there. The catch-22 is my job — it’s just a perfect fit for someone with my background and knowledge, provides me a wealth of writing material, as well as the means to downshift and downsize, but little time for said writing or downsizing. It’s the time of year. Spring and fall are crazy-time, while summer will settle into calmer days. And this coming winter, I’m hoping for plenty of writing time next winter to wrap up what is, much like the boat, something close to but not quite finished yet. Yes, next winter. I’ve heard of writers who put a project on a back burner for years before attacking it head-on. Right now there are too many things going on before I can give my writing the attention it deserves. I’m still writing, more and more every day, but not stressing over word counts or much else. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t been online; given the choice between writing and online socializing, killing fictional people wins every time.

As for the present, it’s been anything but dull. Boats by the hundred, in every size and shape, visit or call Haverstraw home port. Two weeks ago, the America berthed with us for a few days. The graceful schooner hosted visits and tours, and many visitors were fascinated to see the massive spars and sails. Most marinas don’t have the space to accommodate a vessel of that size. At 130′ America was the largest of the three 100’+  schooners to tie up in that slip — at least that week.


Schooner America

Even as I avoided the Internet, it seems to have caught up to me. The other morning as I headed down the dock, one of the marina members caught up with me, telling me she’d seen my video on the Internet, and it was great. My video??? The day before, some nice people from the Lower Hudson Journal News had paid us another visit — they’d come down during America’s stay. They were doing a written piece on women on the water, and wanted to speak with me. They asked a few questions, took a few pictures, a few notes, even as my phone kept ringing and boats came in. At one point they asked me to stand still a moment, and the woman with the camera paused, then tried to fix some errant hair (frizz) over my eyes. I told her to give it up, it’s a fight that couldn’t be won, not with wind, humidity, and my genetics. I gave up on that years ago. They took a few still shots and we were back on the move. If I sound a bit out of breath in some of the sound bites, it’s because I was moving at a brisk clip as they followed, answering questions as they were recording. Here’s me, pretty much saying anyone who wastes their time and money on boats is insane. Which we are.




That’s the score at the moment. From the point Sparky was plugged in and on duty, it’s been called into duty twelve percent of the time. Sparky’s presently set to kick on whenever my heart starts to idle too slow, and whenever the heart rate, whatever it might be, decides to drop the tempo faster than is good for my brain or body. I get the feeling no one expected it to fire up quite as much as it is – pre-implantation much of the talk was that it’d be a fail-safe for those pesky little heart pauses. It seems, according to Sparky’s interrogation (yes, that’s the technical term. The pacemaker gets interrogated. Vee have vays of making it talk,) yesterday, my little friend showed that my heart can be cruising along at a reasonable, normal clip on moment, and the next drop straight to a low idle. Kinda explains how I could sometimes be up and running, and abruptly it feels as though everything becomes exhausting and confused. Twelve percent of the time, my heart wasn’t pumping the blood my brain and body needed.

I’m still trying to decide which I feel more: relieved, concerned, or vindicated. I’m relieved for every time I feel Sparky kick on, and trust me, I do feel it. I’m still getting used to it, but I know that odd feeling of my heart beating so steady and strong would be something quite the opposite if not for this technology. I’m relieved that Sparky is doing what it’s supposed to do, more than I even expected.

Which brings me to the concern. Twelve percent? Without Sparky’s intervention to pick things back up, how long did my pulse linger in the zombie-zone? I knew things had been getting worse. Will that 12% grow, and if so, to what point? Why? The heart’s electrical systems can be damaged by viruses – and I’d always believed this all went from manageable to out of control after a severe summer cold back in 2014; things were already wearing at the edges, but that’s when my health really went down the toilet.

And vindicated. I have the most undeniable “I told you so” healing into the muscles of my chest, with a slight tell-tale bulge and scar as proof. I could post the time-lapse photos…the blossoming bruise patterns and colors showing the path of internal slicing and poking are fascinating, but a bit cringe-worthy. From childhood right up until last winter, I’ve lived with something invisible but more and more debilitating, under the exterior of a seemingly healthy female human. There’s a down-side to being too healthy, physically at least, especially when cardiologists spend most of their time trying to coax the majority of their patients into good exercise and diet. My ‘complaints’ were dismissed as everything from hypochondria to stress and anxiety. Far as I know, Sparky doesn’t alleviate any of those symptoms.

So, for the decades of professionals who dismissed what I knew in my heart (haha) was wrong, who told me it was only in my head or in one case, that I should see a psychiatrist and stop wasting his time, you’re damned right, I wear this scar proudly.  And for anyone experiencing what I’d lived through, the confusion and brain-fog, the dizziness, imbalance, fatigue, out and out blackouts, PLEASE don’t accept the kind (condescending) reassurances that it’s all in your head. Yes, I understand, anxiety can create symptoms quite similar to ones I’d experienced, and make it feel as though your heart is stopping. But the heart actually stopping, something I realize now I’d lived through more times than I want to imagine, is something entirely different. If you’re experiencing something you know isn’t right, don’t simply accept that it’s all in your head. I’m a generally positive person, and I tried to maintain an “I’m okay” attitude while I kept pressing on in the face of declining health, but if you read between the lines and watch as the frequency of posts dwindled, you’ll see a snapshot of things unravelling. I’ve been struggling for years, not that I wanted to accept it.

Anyhow, now that all that wonderful, oxygenated blood is getting pumped through my brain, voluntarily or otherwise, I can FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY finish, uhh, get back to, start all over, all of the preceding, with this little novel I’ve been futilely attempting to write. I’m telling you, the nicest computer with the neatest writing software and a head full of (too many) ideas – they’re all wonderful, but without a reasonably operative brain, turning all that into a novel isn’t exactly the easiest thing.  Truth be told, it was already becoming a struggle by the second book. I couldn’t understand how I’d been able to write till all hours of the night the first time around, and barely keep my eyes own or head focussed past ten by the second. Looking back I can actually pinpoint spots where my heart must’ve really begun going downhill, and that time stands out. Fortunately for me, I don’t quit. I refuse to give up, in fact, the hard something is, the more determined it makes me. But as my heart continued to slow, no amount of determination could overcome my fogged head.

Then I got another chance. The Fludrocortisone seemed to be doing the trick, and I dove back into life with both feet. I collected up my writing – which turned out to be a jumble of chapters, brimming with energy and tension, but…let’s just say they were a bit disjointed at times. Sorting it out became a monumental task, along with suddenly becoming dockmaster at the biggest marina on the Hudson – a job I just couldn’t refuse, especially since I was doing so great…at first, at least. By mid-summer I’d attributed my lack of writing focus to the hundreds of boats and acres of docks now under my supervision. Once the season passed I’d have plenty of time for writing, I promised myself. Then I could focus.

Well…that didn’t work out like I planned, did it? So, here’s where things stand. Book three, Evacuation Route, IS mostly written. Mostly. Multiple times, in some parts, in fact. Funny things, those brains. It seems, on occasion, I completely forgot/mis-filed/??? entire chapters, and wrote more than one chapter on more than one occasion. For the most part they’re quite similar, with a few variations. Thanks to my outlines (more like life-lines, when you keep losing your mind. Seriously, don’t ever underestimate the value of oxygenated blood flowing to the brain,) all written during my more lucid days, the story stayed on course. And thank you Scrivener for a program that is allowing me to organize all this disorganization to a point where I’m distilling it down. Beyond that, my personal research into the affects of decreasing blood-flow to the brain have given me some incredible insight into life within an occasionally unreliable brain. But that’s a post for another day.  I have too much other writing to do today, and while this didn’t take long to tap off, (and won’t be picked over for typos and grammar, so there,) sitting up for moderate stretches of time is still a bit uncomfortable. Each day things hurt a bit less and my writing time lengthens, but as I recover I still have to give myself some breaks.  Like right now.

Battery powered!!!

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I got all wired up and electrified on the ninth, and thank you all for the helpful encouragement and reassurances. I’m feeling a bit sore and bruised up, with an energy level I don’t think I’ve ever had. I feel awake, alert, alive — it’s amazing the difference some nice oxygenated blood flowing through you can make! And it’s funny to feel ‘Sparky’ kick on, it’s an odd but not uncomfortable feeling of my heart beating strong and steady. It’s reassuring, firing up at those moments when things would normally go black. The syncope that was a fact of life is no more! The hardest part is keeping me still right now, which I’m doing, but I want to run outside and play, damnit! And apparently I don’t sound ‘loopy’ anymore, something I’ve been told by everyone who talks to me post-Sparky. I’ll tell you, it’s a hell of a lot sharper inside my head — it’s as though everything became focused, and I hadn’t realized just how foggy everything had truly become. The first organ to suffer from poor blood flow is the ol’ brain, and without that nifty bit of grey mush, trying to finish a novel, trying to even write, had become a constant struggle and losing battle. Happily, I don’t think that’ll be a problem anymore. Back is that person who used to write until all hours of the night. I’ve lost a lot of time, and I’ve got a whole lot of catching up to do. The only thing stopping me now is that sitting up for long stretches still hurts, a little less each day.

I’ll admit I’m amused that it looks as though I’d been stabbed in the chest/shoulder. I mean, technically it *is* a knife wound, which is what I casually told someone in the store the other day, as she stood staring. Her eyes widened in horror and she said “Really?” I smiled and replied, “Yeah. But you should see the other guy.”  Her face was priceless, and I reassured her it was nothing that violent, merely a pacemaker. But in it’s own way the pacemaker is an invasive procedure, and there’s a whole lot of fun healing going on inside my chest, and right now I can feel weird pressure from the leads, which I’m sure I’ll eventually stop noticing. A little discomfort is a small price for knowing my heart won’t do anything wonky at some inopportune moment.

So, one week in and so far, so good. I do feel a bit odd on occasion – almost light-headed, but in a warm, pleasant, sort of tingly way, not dizzy/cold sweat/going down sort of way. That’s normal, I’m told. Right now, I’m running on the ‘Factory Default’ settings. That’s how everyone starts out, then they tune the chip to adjust how things are running…sort of like VW with my TDI. Ah, technology.

I’m just wondering — does this affect my status in the Tin Foil Hat Club?

Not quite dead yet…

…depending on your definition, that is. I’m still here, above ground, and I still have a pulse…most times, at least.

So here’s a rundown of the last few months. The meds were working, and then not so much. I could feel it; the increasing fatigue and the slight but familiar fogginess in my head. I remembered this feeling, but I hoped it was just a busy haul-out season in the massive marina where I’m dock-master. Once things started to slow down I’d get more rest and feel better. At least that’s what I told myself.

Things did slow down, but so did I. I was still exhausted, far more than I wanted to admit. I was getting dizzy, not bad, but enough to give me the uneasy sense things weren’t quite right. I saw my cardiologist, we reviewed my meds and he ordered some tests. The following day I had an episode, the first since last winter and ranking right up there in the top ten worst ever.

What’s an episode? That’s what it’s called when I’m symptomatic, yet another fancy term for the debilitating waves of pain that radiate through my core (something to do with the whole vassal-vagal reflex,) while my blood pressure does a nosedive, depriving my brain of fresh oxygen, resulting in degrees of consciousness ranging from:

DEFCON 5: I feel like sh!t for a minute or five, but it gradually subsides, leaving behind a general uneasiness and a sense that I’d dodged a bullet. But my body was firing warning shots, and I’d be on alert for a while to follow. Or it continues, which brings us to:

DEFCON 4: It’s not passing. It’s getting worse, but still under control. I’m still able to stand and speak, but I feel it coming. It could still pass, or not. Now’s the time to start seeking a safe place to ride this out, and go into defense mode if at all possible. I’d tuck myself in a tight ball — ‘crash-position’, I called it, but it seemed to help in some weird way. Turns out it wasn’t just me curling into fetal position — it helped to compress everything and raise my blood pressure.

DEFCON 3, aka: Semi-Zombie Mode: Still walking and talking, but not so good. I’m feeling queasy, starting to sweat, sounds are amplified, my ears are starting to buzz, and gravity has abruptly doubled.  I must must must sit/lay down or I know I’ll fall. Observers tend to believe I’m drunk/stoned as I stagger to a gravity-neutral spot, preferably as far from moving traffic as I can get.

DEFCON 2, aka: Zombie Down: The dreaded, most dreadful phase. By this point I’m going down, voluntarily or not. I’m horribly nauseous, burning up, sweating, and shivering all at once. Brains…I need brains. Or at least my own brain, but that’s already starving for blood flow and the less critical functions are the first to go. Walking is no longer an option, even hold my head up seems impossible within the super-amplified gravity pulling me down. Speech is impossible; it’s too much effort to even mumble my slurred, barely audible words. My husband has learned to ask ‘yes/no’ questions that require no more than one knock or two as reply. Zombie Down is awful; the blurring/dizzy/slurring to ears-ringing/blackness-getting-darker/I-feel-like-I’m-dying-but-can’t-move-or-speak-oh-god-let-this-pass terror. My consciousness slipping away from me. It feels as though my heart’s stopped, and I’m dying, each and every time. It’s terrifying, not knowing if this is the time everything will go black and stay that way. You’d think after enough years I’d get used to it, but trust me, I haven’t.

And last, but certainly not least, there’s good ol’ DEFCON 1: Actually, DEFCON 1 ain’t so bad, at least for me. Once I’ve reached that point, I’m unconscious, down for the count, feeling no pain, or much of anything else for that matter. Coming around, on the other hand, sucks. Now I get to ride the same roller coaster, just in reverse. Back through DEFCON 2, then 3, and so on. I’m still dizzy and disoriented as blood flow and oxygen return to my brain, rebooting me into fresh confusion. I’ve woken alone, having only the wall and bathroom sink to break my fall; other times I’ve woken to frightened, worried faces, and I’ve woken to plenty of bumps and bruises. Zero memory of what happened, or how I wound up face down on the floor, or collapsed while I was crossing a road, or numerous other occasions. DEFCON 1 tends to upset onlookers the most. Well meaning bystanders prop me up, or quickly try to get me to my feet, which essentially pushes the ‘repeat’ button, and down I go again.

Before going on Fludrocortisone, those episodes in one degree or another had been a fact of life, and had been worsening for years. On Fludro, I’d gotten my life back. I could drive again, function like a normal human being, even find myself as dock-master at a large marina, which often had me walking  3-5 miles a day. I’d never felt better, and the episodes were nothing but a bad memory…until a few weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, when I got hit by a full-on, high-speed DEFCON 2. No warning, nothing gradual. In seconds I’d gone from perfectly fine to May-Day-May-day-I’m-going-down-fast. That same sickening, heart-stopping, dying feeling I remembered only too well. I braced myself in a corner, slumping over the counter beside me for support, and it was over as fast as it hit, though it left me physically weak and mentally rattled. I really thought I’d put that b.s. behind me. Hours later, half-way into driving home, I pulled over and called for backup while I sat on the floor in the local Acme, wishing who-ever the hell was in the bathroom would get out so I could splash my face with cold water. That seems to help.

I was certain things were getting worse, and a worried call from my cardiologist soon confirmed my concerns. The implanted loop recorder, aka: my ‘Booby Black Box,’ which until this point had done nothing more than chafe inside my bra, recorded my heart ‘pausing’ for four seconds at the very time I’d had my episode. Not beating, not in any way that kept any blood pressure.

Image.#1: Can you spot what’s wrong in this picture?Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 4.04.50 PM.png

Imagine a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, flapping merrily away until someone shuts the fan. No air/blood pressure = no wacky waving, or much else for that matter.

Looking at the printout of my pretty damned flatlined pulse (Yeah, I know technically those feeble blips mean some part of it was trying to keep the beat) all I could think was, “I told you so!” I’d been insisting something was wrong for too many years. I’ll never forget standing in a cardiologist’s office 27 years ago with my then infant daughter in my arms, telling the doctor I was weak, dizzy, prone to fainting, and certain my heart was stopping at times. I was assured it was nothing of the sort, I was a perfectly fit and healthy young woman. I was suffering from anxiety, he diagnosed, something easily remedied with the right mental therapy and medications. I had anxiety alright…anxiety that I’d pass out with my baby in my arms and hurt one or both of us. But I digress, which I’m prone to doing these days. It’s hard to stay focused when your brain isn’t getting enough fresh blood. I’m cutting my neurons some slack; after all, they need oxygen to keep those trains of though on track.

Annnnyhoo…back under observation I went, waiting (hoping) to see if it was just a single, isolated event, or something more. It wasn’t a long wait, and the next episode was bad, though certainly not my worst, a classic Defcon 2, the blackness washing over me, almost, but not entirely taking me down. The Black Box recorded 7 seconds of ‘pause.’ No heartbeat. No pulse. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Only seven seconds of I’d term as a pretty damned flat looking line. Those episodes I’d been having for years, that dreadful dying feeling, THIS was what it looked like.  That sensation of my heart ceasing to beat, my blood pressure plummeting and my whole body shutting down — was exactly what I’d always believed — and exactly what had been dismissed for decades.This wasn’t mental, this wasn’t emotional. And just how many times has my heart stopped over the years? According to the Black Box, it’s paused nine times in the last few weeks. If 7 seconds translates into DEFCON 2, just how long do I go without a heartbeat to reach DEFCON 1? Did I really want to find out?

Image #2: I call this one ‘Vindication.’ My daughter’s BF declared it proof that I can’t be killed — my heart just restarts. I’m going with that. Just so long as it keeps restarting, I mean.

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But there it was. Undeniable proof I’ve what I’d said for years. My slow-idling heart WAS stopping. I’d often joked were the zombie apocalypse to hit, while I’d be hard pressed to outrun even the slowest of the staggering, incoherent, dull-witted corpses, I’d be safe —with my sluggish pulse and absurdly low blood pressure, they’d just think I was one of them. My doctors, however, were taking this matter a bit more seriously. (Trust me, so am I. Sick jokes are simply my preferred way of dealing with reality.) And so, in honor of my new high score, I was informed I’m getting awarded a PRIZE!

Yes, friends, it’s… a NEW PACEMAKER!

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(Technically that’s an OLD Pacemaker, but a fine one indeed. Unfortunately, I suspect that’s not covered by Blue Cross.) No, the Pacemaker I speak of looks a bit more like this:

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.57.17 AM.png

(Individual models may vary. I want one I can download music onto, if that’s an option.)

So there you have it. In eight days I’m going in for my new high tech electronic distributor (I’m gonna call it ‘Sparky’) to keep my heart (aka ‘Skippy’) company and keep up the beat. I’ll be getting one bitchin’ cool scar, I’ll be able to set off store security alarms, and according to the warnings I should keep power tools such as circular saws at least six inches from my implant/heart region. Implant or not, I’d say that’s just common sense, but warnings exist because someone out there had to be told. And with my new high-tech cyber/bio heart, I’ll be downright unstoppable – or at least that’s what I’m hoping. Either way, I’m practicing my diabolical laugh, and putting every moment of down-time into this novel I was desperately trying to finish up.