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Diary Health

I have congestive heart failure.

It’s official after my echo cardiogram this afternoon. Where a normal heart pumps about 55% of the blood out of the ventricle at a time, mine is doing somewhere around 15% to 20%. This explains the freakish swelling in my legs and my overwhelming fatigue.

This could be an extremely delayed reaction to chemotherapy. It could have also been caused by the gastroenteritis I had awhile back, since viral infections are known to decrease heart function. My doctor, an intelligent, well-spoken woman we’ll call Dr. G, says we’ll never know.

Treatment is drugs. Dr. G says she doesn’t think a biopsy is necessary, but she doubled the heart medicines my GP put me on and is adding a third starting next week after she sees me again.

I am still able to work and go about my life, but I have to refrain from strenuous activity, heavy lifting, etc.

If all goes well, my heart will start to heal in a few months.

If all doesn’t go well, who knows what might happen. My mom is understandably upset because something similar happened to her sister Carol: she had a viral infection that led to decreased heart function. In her case, the drugs didn’t work, and she ended up having a heart transplant.

(Aunt Carol is doing fine, although she seems to have circulation problems in her legs if she sits for too long. Aunt Carol is also a lot older than me.)

I, being young and naive, am not particularly worried about recovering from this, but I am extremely pissed off at my life right now. Okay, so, first, we lose everything we own in an apartment fire–lifelong memories that are, frankly, irreplaceable. Then, the best friend I made in Augusta moves to a completely different country. Meanwhile, my large family who I love and desperately want to spend time with all live eight hours away. I finally start to think I can deal with being infertile, only to stupidly take a home pregnancy test…that turns out to be a false positive. The worst day of my life. And then I go in today and have a completely different kind of ultrasound and find out I can’t even take care of myself anymore. I can’t do big-time grocery shopping. I can’t assemble or move furniture. I can’t go wherever I want whenever I want. No biking, no long walks, nothing, because I’m physically incapable of doing it. And it’s not going to be fixed anytime soon.

So here I am trapped away from family and friends unable to take care of myself, but still well enough to work, so I have to drag myself out of bed every day and try not to pass out for eight hours so I don’t lose my job.

This is not the kind of existence I was hoping for when I moved here.