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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07


November’s been kind of weird, huh? Feels like it’s been around longer than the week it has been. Then again, if it wasn't weird, it wouldn't really fit with the theme of 2020. Although mercury was to come out of retrograde on Tuesday, I can feel the lingering effects. Retrograde means going back or backwards. Retrogradus - Latin for retrograde.

The collective energy of the universe remains off - a thrum of discord - as the world still waits in anticipation of the Presidential election results. I’m capping a week in New Hampshire where I’ve been for work and this morning, heeded the siren call of the ocean. The ocean in fall and winter is lovely - the beach is not empty, but the beach goers are silent. No shouts from playful children. The hush of conversation is muted by the white noise of the waves. Sea gulls shrilly coo overhead. In the off season, I’m not particularly discerning about my beach choice. I suppose the cooler air is the great equalizer. In New England, the hardiest of the lot leash up their dogs and go. With plenty of room to social distance, faces are unmasked and we can all pretend for a few glorious moments that there is no pandemic still raging. Here, the energy is rebalanced and restored. Some of the beach goers have knit, winter hats atop their heads. Regardless of what time of year I visit the ocean, I always remove my shoes, peel my socks off and feel the sand beneath my feet. I put my feet in and wince against the cold - it’s how you know you’re alive. On Thursday night, a pain in my chest blossomed and sprouted down my left arm like a choking vine. I got into bed and the pain intensified as I rolled on my side. By 1230 AM, I decided ignoring it wasn't the best idea. My family is knit together by folks with bum hearts - my mom (still going 20+ years after her first and last heart attack), her sister (also still going) and their father (game over early). Genetics - they can be real assholes. At the ER, I explain my fear and then dismissively say, "It's probably gas." With a laugh and a grimace. They don't laugh but are kind. I feel dumb that I'm there and grateful for nitroglycerin tablets and morphine which finally abates pain.

The nitroglycerin makes me think of my grandpa and his bum heart - he'd eat red pistachios, eyes glued to the Cubs game. He'd have a small transistor radio in hand, one earphone in his ear to gain a different perspective on the game. Occasionally, he'd pop a nitroglycerin tab under his tongue.

At around 315 AM Friday morning, I think to myself, "Maybe I can keep this to myself." It's about that same time that the ER doc indicates she wants to admit me. I suspect this is a bit of a CYA on their part because who really wants to have a 46 year old die alone at the Fairfield Inn less than a mile away. I agree - mainly because I'm too tired to disagree and because they have strong drugs here. I write my boss and one regional partner at 330 AM - hoping I get some sleep at one point.

Tests are run and at around 11 AM my heart is declared fine, medically speaking. In my coaching class, they urge us to drop into our heart space. No one ever urges you to do this - I'm learning to traverse this foreign territory. The hospital tells me they are preparing my discharge paperwork and test results so I can bring them back to Virginia - a souvenir of my visit to New Hampshire. The suspected the culprit was eating pasta with tomato sauce too late before bed AND watching election coverage. I'm told to buy Prilosec. Prior to my Thursday overdose on Wolf Blitzer, I had not watched the news in over 4 years. I do and this is what it got me.

An unfamiliar nurse enters the room, "Your sister's here." she announces. My face briefly clouds in confusion before I say, "Oh! Anne!" She agrees and leaves the room. I look at my phone.

"I'm your sister." Anne has texted - arriving at my room much later, after running a COVID screening gauntlet. My sister reports to my wife that I look good - which is part of why she's there, to report to the wife. I fall into my bed back at the hotel. When Andrea asks how I'm feeling, I reply "silly." A conversation with my boss reveals that he once thought he was having a heart attack but in reality, Brussel sprouts were to blame. I feel less silly and think, "Even goddamn vegetables will turn against you."

I open an email this morning and am reminded that a colleague from my coaching class and I are coaching one another later today. I groan, snap my laptop shut, pull and oracle card and recognize it's the same one that I pulled earlier in the week which clearly means I need to pay attention to that message. Later, while sipping coffee on the beach, I realize I don't want to talk to my coaching partner because I will be required to share a problem I have that I need to be coached on. "I'm thinking we need way more than 10-15 minutes for that one, bub." I think to myself.

I was going to write a funny post about all of this - and I have plenty of material from my stay to do so. Then Andrea tells me that her friend's husband died of a stroke. He has to be around my age. I can't help but wonder if he initially felt like shit and dismissed it - then it was too late. I don't know - but I'm grateful that my problem is an easy, fixable one. I'm speaking, of course, of the heart burn/acidic part. I'm here. There's time - even if just for today for me to work on getting in anterograde.

anterograde adjective

an·​ter·​o·​grade | \ ˈan-tə-(ˌ)rō-ˌgrād \

Definition of anterograde 1: occurring or performed in the normal or forward direction of conduction or flow: such as a: occurring along nerve processes away from the cell body anterograde axonal transport— compare RETROGRADE sense 1c(1)b: occurring in the normal direction or path of blood circulation restoration of anterograde flow in an occluded coronary artery— compare RETROGRADE sense 1c(2)

2: affecting memories for a period of time immediately following a precipitating event (such as alcohol intoxication, traumatic brain injury, or severe emotional stress) and especially from the time of onset to the presentanterograde amnesia— compare RETROGRADE sense 5

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