Steve Chatterton
Will Write for Food
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Day 6: 602 Words, Plus a New Subplot!

April 27th, 2015 by Steve


When life gives you drama, make dramonade. Or something like that. I’m trying to make a hybrid of drama and lemonade. Oh wait, I don’t need to tell you that. Like most readers, you’re way more intelligent than I’m usually willing to acknowledge. I apologize. I’m not worthy.

So, what’s new with you? Who, me? Not much. I had this thing over the weekend where my heartbeat got all fast and freaky funky. They call it atrial fibrillation (A-fib for short), and I guess it’s the new thing I’m going to have to learn to deal with this year.

The Pros and Cons of A-fib:

Pro: If you time your attack just right, you get to ride in an ambulance!

Con: They likely won’t turn the siren on for you either.

Another con is that they might not be able to restore your heart to a normal rhythm medicinally, so they’ll have to do a cardioversion, a procedure that requires shocking your heart in hopes that it’ll restart in a nice, orderly rhythm. My doc said it’s just like rebooting a computer, so I signed on the dotted line and off we went.

Funny things said as we got ready for the cardioversion:

Me: I’ll still have both kidneys when I wake up, right?

My doctor: If you wake up in an ice bath in Mexico, it’s not on me.

And while the anesthetic was kicking in:

Me: Bedspins! That takes me back. (I don’t know if I actually got that line across clearly as I slipped into darkness, but I like to think it got a big laugh).

The pros and cons of cardioversion:

Pro: This will almost definitely get you back to a normal heartbeat.

Con: There’s a chance that while your heart is stopped your lungs will decide they can stop too, and then your medical team gets really antsy about everything.

Also, when you’re there with your heart and lungs stopped, your brain keeps on going, so you don’t get to have the much-lauded near-death experience. My interesting party story is now that one time my heart and my lungs stopped and it was just like nodding off in front of the telly. No white light, no chorus of angels, no reunion with my dearly departed – how dull.

So, here’s the thing. I don’t usually keep a journal. Let’s face it, the day to day activities of a stay-at-home dad slash dog walker are dreadfully boring at the best of times. How anyone turns that raw material into a compelling read is beyond me. It’s beyond my writing skills, anyway. But here was something that happened to me that I remembered in rich detail and had a fair bit of drama and that whole life-on-the-line thing that might actually be worthy of a B story on Grey’s Anatomy, and seriously, as far as my life goes, that’s pretty dramatic.

So Saturday morning, I sat down and I wrote it all out. From the young EMT who mistook me for a man in his mid-thirties (I’m forty-eight, thanks for asking) to the crazy woman in the ER who wore the exact same pyjamas I do. All of it. 2,145 words later, I realized I had a decent subplot on my hands. I’ve been planning to have my main character, Arnie, completely loose his cool in front of the news cameras parked outside his neighbours’ house. Now he’s going to lose it so completely he goes into A-fib and has to be taken away in an ambulance.

And I’ll know exactly how to describe it!

Note to self: The word afebrile has nothing to do with going into A-fib. It means ‘without fever.’ Having Arnie misuse afebrile in front of his cardiologist will reveal much about his character and perhaps lead to a moment of comedy.

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Posted in On Writing


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