>Them’s The Breaks


Once again, I’m putting off that post I started a while back. Just in case you’re wondering…it’s about FOOD! LOL However, after reading Cathy and Mac’s posts this week, it got me thinking (that’s always a bad sign) because their posts touched on a couple of things that hit really close to home over the past 30 days.


Ever heard of SADS? What about teens dropping dead on a playing field doing athletics? That’s SADS or sudden arrhythmia death syndrome. There are numerous causes, but one specific cause is Long QT, which is a disturbance in the heart’s electrical system. Layman’s terms — the two chambers of your heart alternate the task of pumping blood through your body. When one chamber finishes its pumping action it signals the other chamber to beat (pump blood) with an electrical charge. The difference in time between when a charge is sent between the chambers is reflected in one’s QT on an electrocardiogram (EKG). When the electrical charge doesn’t go off the heart stops. Hence sudden death.

The Movie “John Q” Got It Right

There are different types of Long QT. Some are easily detected by symptoms, others can only be determined through genetic testing. Here’s where insurance is a real pain in the ass. Natalie said it best in her comments. Insurance companies are evil, greedy monsters. Getting preauthorization is understandable. But when they question you, your family doc and even a specialist as to why you need a test it’s frustrating. They act like they know more about what’s good for you than your doctor. Umm..hello?? Did I miss an appointment with you for a one-on-one evaluation? So tell me, what part of “pay $900 for a lab test now, or pay millions when I die and my DH sues your pants off” don’t you understand?

Ok, after a fight the test is approved. You’d think it would be easier to get the girls tested? Nope, we’ve been rejected three times now. The doctors might have to arbitrarily authorize surgery for Oldest and Baby just to err on the side of caution. Why would these insurance idiots refuse a test when the mother is POSITIVE? These people would drive a Vulcan into Pon Farr even if their mating cycle weren’t for another five years.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

With blood drawn and out for testing, I buried my head in the sand trying to forget my 50/50 odds of having one of the five Long QT genes. Do I sleep? Nope, I’m tired and afraid. Do you think I spend my time writing? Nope, I’m too depressed because I’m tired. I don’t write, I don’t sleep, but I DO eat chocolate. Four or five pounds of milk chocolate maple creams in the past month and a half. Yeah, if the gene doesn’t kill me, chocolate will. But then death by chocolate might be a good thing. Of course if I live, I have to go back on a diet! Grrr.

The genetic results come back. Bad news. I have Long QT. But WAIT, I don’t just have the ordinary Long QT. I have Long QT3, which is the deadliest killer of them all. It makes your heart stop in your sleep and unless someone is monitoring you. Bam! The party’s over. The fat lady has sung and left the opera house. If you’re not an opera fan, then that’s probably not such a bad thing. Naturally, the good news doesn’t stop there. Long QT3 isn’t treatable with oral medication. So what are my options you ask?

Door Number 1, Door Number 1 or Door Number 1

Well, there’s this little invention someone created back in the late 60s called a pacemaker. The doctor began explain the procedure and got three sentences out about how they would insert it into my chest before I held up my hand and said, “I think I’m gonna be sick.” Minutes later, the DH is scheduling my surgery while I sit next to him in a numb state. I knew it was a possibility, I just didn’t really think it would come down to the wire. I thought I was being a drama queen. I really thought I was over-reacting like I always do. Turns out I wasn’t. For an Alpha female, I was quite malleable for a few hours. The DH actually lost a BIG window of opportunity there!

Instead of taking advantage, the DH insisted I have surgery right away. He knew if I waited, I’d try to talk my way out of the surgery. In fact, I tried that very thing up to the last minute. And by last minute, I mean I was lying on that cold, steel table with tears rolling down my cheeks ready to scream out that I didn’t want to go through with it. But then the nurses started asking me about my girls, and I knew I couldn’t back out. The risk of dying without the pacemaker installed was greater than my dying from the operation. So a little more than 72 hours after my doctor’s visit, I had bionic equipment installed. It took less time to install that pacemaker than when we got our new garage door two weeks ago today! What is it with me and Thursdays? LOL I now have a 4-ounce mechanism the size of a credit care inside me that feels like it weighs close to a pound. While the installation procedure is relatively simple, the emotional aspects are far more complex.

The Aftermath

With the surgery over, I can joke about how I prepared a notarized medical directive (with specific instructions for religious types and politians), wrote special letters to each of my daughters and my husband. I organized my affairs with friends, my agent and publishers. I planned out my funeral. My funeral would have RAWKED with songs like Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive (there’s an oxymoron! LOL) and Elton John’s Funeral for a Friend. I expressed my wish for a Xena-style funeral pyre (ok, so I know that won’t happen in Virginia, but a girl can dream!) but I settled with knowing my ashes would be spread in Douthat State Park. Finally, I dictated my funeral be a party. A big, loud party, just like me. Oh and my request that folks send $45-75 to the SADS organization instead of buying a floral arrangement that would die just like me.

Death-Defying Moments

In truth, there’s nothing like looking death in the eye to make you rethink your priorities. But I did more than just look death in the eye. Technically I was dead at several different points during the operation for up to ten seconds each time. They have to test the pacemaker to make sure it’s working. The only way to do that is kill me off a few seconds each time. Wasn’t it Natalie who recently had a topic entitled Killing Your Darlings? I can sooo relate here. ROFL I’m just wondering if my psychic powers will be enhanced by these death-defying moments. (And YES, I’m serious!)

The next big hurdle will be next week when we take the girls to an electro-physiologist. Surgery may or may not be in the picture for Oldest, while Baby might be safe for the moment. So I’m still not out of the woods emotionally. How do parents with sick and dying children manage? It’s scary and heart wrenching. You have stay cheerful outside when inside you’re falling apart.

Home For The Holidays

With all that explained, I’m going to kick back to Mac’s post about the hustle and bustle of the holidays. For the last few years, I’ve not gotten so frantic over the holidays. I’ve decided it’s okay if I use the Pillsbury pie dough as opposed to making mine from scratch. This year more than in years past, I know it’s going to be okay if supper is a little late getting to the table. I’m with my family. The choices we make in life can never be confirmed as the right ones; primarily because we don’t know what the outcome would have been if we’d made a different choice. What I do know is this. Even if it means I have to give up my beloved shoulder-restraint rollercoasters that do loop-de-loops at blistering speeds, I made the right choice to go bionic. And trust me; you can not imagine how earth shattering it was to be told I couldn’t ride Apollo’s Chariot again. *weeping* Rollercoasters are life’s blood to me. I LIVE for air time! (Whispering here so the doc doesn’t chide me) ….the pacemaker’s rep said I might be able to try to ride in a year. WOOT!! Now I have to convince the DH to let me ride. *grin* Remember when I said he lost a window of opportunity? He didn’t get my promise that I wouldn’t try to ride again!! LOL

Cathy, Natalie and Mac (my GabWagon.com cohorts) — thank you so much for your thoughtful, caring support through all this. I’m blessed and honored to count you among my friends. When it’s all said and done, I at least have a new experience to draw from for my writing! However I do have to get accustomed to being the bionic woman. I just wish the part came with the body of a drop-dead gorgeous redhead with green eyes and a body to die for. Some days I just can’t catch a break. *grin*


This entry was posted in Healing, Misc, Writing by Monica Burns. Bookmark the permalink.

About Monica Burns

A bestselling author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

24 thoughts on “>Them’s The Breaks

  1. >Jenna, WOW! an electrical lineman!! Now I really do feel better! Thanks for that uplifting and definitely positive note of encouragement. Thanks for thinking the post was positive, because I can assure you, I wasn’t feeling too positive when this was happening. In fact, I was a regular witch even with all that chocolate I devoured! LOL

    Thanks for posting, Monica

  2. >Your blog is so positive, when know I’d be scared out of my mind. Big hugs to you, Monica.

    My stepfather has had a defib since he was 35 years old. He’s had no probs with his and he’s an electrical lineman, so, hopefully, this means yours will be no probs too. I wish you the very best of luck.

  3. >Thanks for your warm thoughts for me and my girls Nell.

    Carolan, I have a defibrillator. It’s set to go off when the heart slows to 40 beats a minute. I’ve gotten that low several times in my life, so I imagine that will be an interesting experience if I feel it going off.

    You’re right about the cookies, I just wish I had more time to give my girls the great munchies my Mom did when I was growing up. She was a baking war machine! LOL

    Thanks for your warm thoughts. Mon

  4. >[[hugging Monica]]

    Wow. Just wow.

    Is that you have a pacemaker or a defibrillator implant? My dad has the latter. He goes in once in a while to have the “history” downloaded – once it showed that it had gone off for 30 seconds on a New Year’s Eve. We’ve never let him forget that. “Sooo, Dad, what were you and Mom doing on New Year’s Eve? Hmmmm?”

    I’ve had several surgeries over the holidays, and I can tell you from experience that the world doesn’t stop just because you don’t bake 20 different kinds of cookies. 🙂

    Bummer about the roller coaster – I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll get the green light at some point!

  5. >Thanks Liz.. you’re right about the alternative. I’m doing better thanks!


  6. >Wow! That’s quite a rollercoaster ride, Monica. Glad you’re going to be okay. Nothing like having a brush with the grim reaper to make you appreciate the simpler things. I know a number of people with pacemakers and they’re all doing fine. Besides … beats the alternative.

    Hang in there.

    Liz Kreger

  7. >Thanks Kate. It’s kinda of hard to keep me down. Although there have been times…LOL


  8. >Gina, I’ve yet to send you an email (slap on forehead), but I wanted you to know that your emails prior to the surgery were really comforting to me. I really appreciate your good thoughts.

    Hugs, Monica

  9. >After I got my pacemaker I called the manufacturer to find out what I could and couldn’t do. That was very helpful.

    I don’t ride rollercoasters, so I’m no help to you there. 🙂

    So glad it went well, Monica, and that you are recovering nicely.

  10. >Monica, I think you’re very brave. One might say that you didn’t have a choice, but there is always a choice, and to take the action that creates the most fear is extremely courageous.

  11. >D, Where’s the fun in doing things halfway??? ROFL

    Gayle, Thanks for those words of encouragement about the rollercoaster. I really am serious in that I can’t imagine NOT riding again. *sigh* The pacemaker would probably be halfway pressed on by a shoulder restraint. I’ll have to see how it heals. Truthfully, I can generally handle a little pain with the pleasure of a rollercoaster ride. The morning after I feel like I’ve been a bar room brawl, but it’s always worth it. LOL


  12. >Wow, I’m so glad you are all right now. Don’t let it get you down. One of my good friends (35 years old)has had a pacemaker since she was 3 years old (she’s on her 4th one right now). She not only is a dance teacher but also a roller coaster freak. She tells me it all depends where they place the pacemaker to make sure the harness is not pressing on it, it hurts if pressed on hard and could blip. Check with your doctor in the spring and talk to others who have a pacemaker. I’m sure they will tell you not to let it change your life.
    Take it easy for now.

  13. >Girl, you just don’t do anything halfway do you? 🙂 So glad everything came out for you. Hopefully your girls will be just fine.


  14. >I’m doing fine, ladies. *smile* I’ll outlast Cheney. I came back to work on Monday…a bit sore, but physically in good shape. My mental state has been questionable, although drugs do help with that. *grin*

    And thanks MK for the finger crossing. Oldest knows the odds or what the doc will say, and she’s scared to death. I’m trying to treat all of this as if it were a piece of milk chocolate maple creme candy. Something I could go for right now come to think of it. *grin*


  15. >Holy sh*t! I knew you were missing, I didn’t realize you were busy dying for 10 seconds a pop on a table somewhere. Now THAT’s dramatic! LOL!

    Seriously, Mon. Scary stuff, my darling. Hope that you’re out of the woods now, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed on your ducklings.


  16. >as soon as I left that message I thought OH GOD, ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE poor Monica is going to have to hear endless Lord Cheney jokes. That’s too cruel and unusual and I’m just adding to that part of her misery. (I hear Darth Vader is already tired of hearing those jokes too)

  17. >Sounds like your FIL is the adventuresome type. Good for him. As for Dick Cheney jokes, you don’t own a rifle do you? *smile* Sorry, I’m a Jon Stewart fan. Monica

  18. >I suppose I don’t know you well enough to make Dick Cheney jokes. No, actually I don’t know anyone well enough for that…..

    My FIL has a pacemaker. He’s chugging along nicely–I think he’s in China right now on a tour-thingy.

  19. >Thanks for the warm thoughts, Leeann. Nationwide has it right…Life comes at you fast. *grin*


  20. >OH Monica I’m sorry for all that you’re going through!

    I’m glad that you made it out of surgery ok. And I pray that your daughters come out in the clear.

    My thoughts and prayer are with you. And I hope that you have the best holidays ever this year and every year to come!