The paramedics came again this morning to check on Nana’s heart.
She knocked on the door when I was ten minutes into a yoga video on youtube. I scrambled up from my quasi-meditative butterfly position and attempted to maintain a demeanour of calm as she announced that she wanted to ring an ambulance because her heart was feeling strange again.
This happens every time I stay with her. Twice over Christmas – on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. She reports palpitations, dizziness, and a feeling of her heart being gripped or crunched by fingers. This is since she suffered an atrial fibrillation in October last year.
Now, my condition being what it is, it takes 0.2 seconds for me to go from Functioning to Sucked Up In The Panic Vortex. Even though it’s happened before. Even though she presents as overall okay. Bit shaky, heart rate a little fast, but able to move, hold conversation, all the usual stuff one would watch out for. Face not pale or flush, temperature normal. She’s fine physically. Doing very well, actually. The paramedic today was called Pete. He was excellent. He stayed for an hour to make sure she understood everything he was doing and make sure she understood why she didn’t need to go into hospital this time.
She rings the paramedics every time her heart feels a bit strange or the pain becomes noticeable.
Now, the symptoms she’s reporting – increased heart rate, dizziness, nausea, gripping of the chest – well, they sound a lot like brain stuff. And every time the paramedics come out, she tells the same story – that she suffered that one incident of atrial fibrillation six months ago and that she’s afraid that it will happen again. It’s understandable but I guess what I’m trying to get at is that she finds it hard to let go of things. It happened six months ago but, to some level, she relives it every time her heart rate increases. That causes panic and potentially a psychosomatic re-experiencing of all of the other symptoms. (She also keeps telling them about how she had seven different addresses in the span of ten months. Yes, that’s incredibly traumatic, but she’s been settled here for about a year and a half? But she seems unable to let go of that feeling of not having a reliable “home”, of being unable to settle…a feeling that I know well, as I’ll explain in a later post probably).
Mother’s mental health is not something that I’ll be delving into today but there is definite Stuff there, whether she’s willing to confront it or not. (On reflection, it feels like her reluctance to confront it was what spurred my own condition into overdrive. Complicated. Anyway.)
How far is panic hereditary? (The over-developed empathy complex seemed to skip over my mother but my nan, like me, over-empathises often, and sometimes to her own detriment, worrying and worrying and never reaching a conclusion. Ahem, same.)
I’m glad she’s okay. Physically anyway. Brain stuff is, as always, much more complex.
(Hoping to post again later. It’s been a tough morning. Here are some flowers from down the road. Notice the little things.)