Posted by: Budger | October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday George!

I am a certifiable gadget girl.  Budgee knows that when all other ideas fail for a gift, that the latest and greatest gadget will fit the bill.  My friends look to me to teach them how to run their Blackberries, navigation systems, etc.  And all of them know Budger’s gadgets get assigned a name.

I have a GPS named Mildred.  Named so because of the obnoxious voice.  I say that if they made a GPS that said “you missed your turn, dumbass” it would sell a lot better than “recalculating”, but I like to imagine that what Mildred is really saying is the former rather than the latter, and hence I don’t feel guilty when I shout back at her “Oh shut up Mildred!”  Both of my bikes have names.  I think it’s like naming a ship.  It’s supposed to bring good luck.  Even my most important gadget of all has a name. 

And today, George and I celebrate three years together.  Those of you who have read my previous musings about George may remember that George is a pacemaker.  A tiny little battery operated device that signals my heart to beat.  He is the size of approximately 3 stacked quarters with a battery life of approximately seven years.  He is an incredible tattle tale.  Not only does he keep my heart beating in a regular rhythm, but he records and stores all kinds of information that my cardiologist regularly downloads.  He is a Medtronic, and I have a love/hate relationship with him. 


I didn’t want George.  When I went to my Family Practice doctor because I was tired and feeling short of breath.  I thought I had a respiratory infection.  I have a long history of bronchitis, and I had been through a stressful few months.  But my doctor wanted me to go to the Cardiologist, just in case.  So 2 days later I went, and I wore their heart monitor overnight, and the next day when they read it, all hell broke loose.  It started with the nurse interrupting the doctor while he was talking to me and telling him, “you need to see this”.  The next thing I know, they were wheeling me in a wheelchair across the parking lot of the professional center to the emergency room of the hospital next door for an emergency pacemaker implant.  “I am only 43” were the words I kept expressing in a very loud, semi-hysterical fashion to the doctor, the nurse, the ER doctor and anyone who would listen.  I can’t have emergency surgery.  My husband is in California.  He wont’ be able to get here.  Who will feed my dogs?  “Doesn’t matter” my doc said way too calmly. “Your heart is stopping repeatedly while you sleep, for longer periods of time.  You’re getting a pacemaker.”  And so my relationship with George began, while my husband scrambled to get home, and my wonderful friends took care of me and my dogs.

George didn’t get his name immediately.  It came after 3 months of frustration as I was making 2-3 doctor visits a month while they got to the bottom of all of my arrhythmia issues.  One day as I was driving home in tears, sick of being sick, sick of doctors, sick of hospitals, and tests, and feeling like crap, I decided I needed to name my pacemaker.  Maybe it would bring me luck.  And so I named him George, after my favorite love to hate him, hate to love him, boss. (Actually I greatly admire this person, but don’t tell him that.) 

Three years later, George and I are getting along fine.  Once a month, at an ungodly hour, we do a pacemaker check via the phone.  The screeching noise, similar to a fax machine, at 5 am prior to having my morning coffee is made up for by the regular rhythm that he provides.  And I look forward to the twice yearly downloads with the Medtronic technician.  I learn something new about George every time.  George also deserves a lot of the credit for my tenacity at finding the cause of my tummy issues.  After living with them my whole life, and giving up on there ever being a fix, I was reminded not to give up.  And as soon as I could quit focusing on my heart, back to the GI doc I went.  Not because I love docs, the tests, being sick, but because I wanted to be well.  So as I tell my friends when they proclaim that they would never be able to follow a gluten-free diet.  This is not my first rodeo.  Having to give up gluten was a lot easier than wondering if I would ever be able to walk down my driveway again without stopping to catch my breath.

So for George’s birthday, we are celebrating as we do every year.  This weekend, we will drive to San Antonio to ride our bike from San Antonio to New Braunfels and back for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  George, Blanca (my bike) and I will focus on our journey over the last three years, not the mileage.  The fact that we’re out there is a victory for us, and a dedication to a very important cause.  Come back soon, or follow me on Twitter where I will be posting updates of our weekend.  Our primary role this year is support to our team, but we will be out riding as well. Pedaling in rhythm celebrating our three years together.

To all of my friends and others, love your heart and know your numbers.  For more information about heart disease and its symptoms, please visit the American Heart Association website.  Happy Birthday George!  I will Wear Red in your honor today.


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