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Birthday Probes, Long Drives and Glowing in the Dark

Further adventures in the medical vortex

March 2024

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

First of all, thank you to all those who sent cards, letters and emails hoping for my health. Your wishes and prayers are appreciated.

And, I still need them.

Turns out, I must have two heart operations. The prospect of one was bad enough; now, two? Bah!

These are unfortunately split out between one hospital, which I like, and know my way around, and can even drive to myself — and another, in the scary, unknown land of Charlottesville, which is 100 miles each way. I just don’t have it in me to drive 100 miles, go through a lot of medical hoops, and then hop in the car and drive 100 miles home.

So, I must find friends who will drive me. At first, this was easy. A close friend who goes to Charlottesville all the time offered. But, after trip #2, he suddenly had other things to do that were more pressing. And fun. I really can’t blame him; he was great to do it twice. I’m very grateful for that.

On my next appointment there, another close friend will drive. It seems both hospitals are ordering a lot of oddball tests and taking their time. I believe that the longer they are taking, the less dire my problems may be. As I learned with a malignant melanoma, the sooner they want to whisk you into the operating room, the worse it is.

I drove myself to the closer hospital last week for what I was told was a stress test. Several nurses told me that: “stress test.” Seems they left out the most important word in front: “nuclear.” I won’t go into the details, which included being shot up with radioactive isotopes several times. I had a bad reaction to the last one and was afraid I was paralyzed for a short while. But, another shot from another radiology tech had me feeling better in 10 minutes.

Believe me: If a nurse says you need a stress test, ask up front if it’s nuclear. The nurses were great, but the other stuff? Not so much. It’s a wonder I’m not glowing in the dark.

The next thing I need is an MRI, and to meet the cardiac surgeon. True to the sardonic nature of things, it was scheduled for my birthday. Bah!

Could there be a worse way to “celebrate” one’s birthday? I think not! I’ll have to wait until some later date to try to do that.

This situation is rather depressing. I am filled with anxiety much of the time. People tell me, “don’t worry,” but really, wouldn’t you? Fortunately, every couple of days, I get a colorful envelope in the mail with an encouraging letter from a reader. One even sent me a felted butterfly to cheer me up. Thanks! I also heard again from my old writing pal, Mable Simmons. It’s always cheering to hear from Mable. Several writers had heart-horror tales to tell of their own. It made me feel that I am perhaps better off than I might think.

So, here’s how I’ve decided to approach it: Don’t worry so much. Everything will be done — scary while it’s happening, but curative in the end. I will try to be positive. I will focus on being out there tramping along the lane, looking for wildlife, by the time spring gets here. I will get through it! I am determined!

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., or email [email protected].