Friday, January 25, 2013

A Year, Already?

Just a few random observations, I think.

As I sit here at the kitchen table, with the laptop plugged in to recharge its frail battery, and my cell phone plugged in for its only occasional refill of electricity, I realize that it's just two days pas the first anniversary of the installation of my pacemaker -- the little electric ravioli-like device wired into the upper and lower right ventricles of my wayward, built-in blood pump. 

Every night now, before going to bed, I make sure to strip to the waist and look at myself in the bathroom mirror, to remind myself of this recent addition to my physiognomy.  At first, I wanted to make sure that the incision site was healing correctly -- it's odd, really, that this life-altering instrument should have needed so small a portal for its entrance --it looks as though I have a little off-center marsupial pouch, faintly demarkated by a slightly shiny pink line in my flesh.  My original plan to get a big, bold, declarative tattoo, right on top of the visitor -- an idea I think I knew even then was probably a cliched reaction from men my age, to such an medical invasion I'll bet -- but the mere mention of such a step prompted a startled response from both surgeon and technician.  No other electrical devices anywhere near this little life-saver, they said.  No tattoos at all, on the left pectoral muscle, they said.  Spoil sports. 

And I had such a neat design idea, I thought.  Something like one of those traffic direction signs, at an intersection where one road doesn't continue through, and drivers must choose left or right (or go ahead and plow into that oak tree, why don't you?); the double-headed black arrow on a school-bus yellow field, only the arrow is tied in a simple overhand know, with a red zig-zag running down the middle of the knotted arrow stem.  I could draw it out for the guy with the gun.  Which would mark me as the rank amateur he could already tell I was, the moment I walked through the door of his second-floor establishment on the corner of Something and Something Else, in downtown Newark.

Then, declamatory frontal tattoo eliminated as an option, I thought briefly of a cool piercing -- a non-corroding zipper tag, stuck at one end of the pink line, indicating just how easy it should be, the next time I have to be slit open, for a battery charge.  I'm still mulling that over -- it appeals because, as with an ear piercing, it can be reversed pretty easily.  I've also been thinking, just in the last few weeks, of a tattoo on my back, directly opposite from my ''Lil Intruder', as I sometimes think of it, and depicting something like a set of nasty-looking talons clawing their way out through a freshly-created wound...  The only disadvantage being its visual inaccessibility to yours truly.  Still mulling this one over. 

But most of the time, I don't even think of the pacemaker at all.  I joined an on-line 'Pacemaker's Club', of all things, to see if anyone else had the same kinds of questions that had popped into my worried little head -- for instance, solar flares and me?  In addition to the gruff 'oh, why don't you just man up' responses, I got a few that actually helped, and then I forgot about the Pacemaker's Club too.  Only recently, when I started carrying my cell phone in my left breast shirt pocket (bad idea, it occurs to me?), did I have what I thought was some sort of irregularity.  But it only turned out to be an incoming call to a phone I'd set to vibrate.

So.  Happy Anniversary, me.  Maybe I'll hold a cupcake in front of the scar, and then eat is, as proxy for the indifferent little collection of circuits and wiring that keeps my right lower ventricle pumping my blood to places where it's supposed to go.

©    Walter Zimmerman

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