Heart Monitor

The summer Dr. Kevorkian died, I was standing at a stop sign, wearing a heart monitor.

It was spying on me. I was supposed to carry on with my day as I normally would have and even work out if I felt like it, but I feared the things the heart monitor might have registered.

That morning, I’d gone to the bathroom and woken up on the floor.

I’d fallen through the open door. I lived alone and there was no point in closing the door when I went to the bathroom. In the opposite direction was the bathtub.

I stumbled to my feet.

And I woke up on the floor again.

This time I managed to crawl back into bed. I called my dad and asked him to come and take me to the hospital. I thought he sounded annoyed on the phone, but maybe he was just worried.

I had no idea how long I had been out. What I knew for sure was that if I had fallen in the opposite direction, my head would have slammed against the edge of the bathtub.

I kept thinking someone or something wanted me alive. It definitely wasn’t the heart monitor, though. That thing was spying on me.

I’d gone to see the neurologist first.

The neurologist was an old-fashioned bourgeois gentleman who made me go through an MRI scan. It was terrifying. I tried to imagine I was inside a space capsule, but all I could think of was how powerless I felt. Confined. I feared that it would collapse and crush me.

The MRI came out fine. The neurologist then sent me to the cardiologist’s office.

The cardiologist was a pretty, delicate-looking young woman with elegant eyeglasses.

She made me take my bra off so she could put the heart monitor on me. This made me feel very uncomfortable. Exposed. There was also the thought that instead of a lover’s hands there was a mechanical thing on my chest, the wires coming out of it seizing me like the tentacles of some evil robot.

I watch too many science fiction movies.

That summer I was in love with someone who was not in love with me. I knew it couldn’t happen, and yet I felt I had to carry the despair of it right until the very end, until the moment there was only despair and the world turned the blackest black. Then it would go away, as if there had never been any despair at all.

It did, eventually, and when I remember it, it’s as if someone else, not me, had harboured those feelings.

But that morning, while I was getting dressed while waiting for my dad to come and take me to the hospital, as the animal fear of death and the void began to fade away, I felt it creeping up inside of me again, layer upon layer of it, forming a dark nucleus, as heavy as lead. I knew it very well.

I was certain the heart monitor knew it too. The next day, I thought, it would go on to tell the cardiologist about it and they’d have a laugh at my expense.

Yes, the heart monitor had a mind of its own, like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Great movie, by the way.

I thought about taking it off. I imagined it pleading with me in HAL’s metallic monotone, saying ‘Anca, stop. Stop, will you?’ and ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Anca, my mind is going.’

I would lie to the cardiologist and say it simply came off.

Stupid, huh? These things don’t simply come off. Of course she would know immediately that it was a lie and she would make me wear it for another day.

When the light turned green, I knew there was nothing to do but go home. I went straight to the bus stop. I don’t remember what I did when I got home. Not much, anyway. I probably went on the internet. I probably watched a detective show or two. I probably did a few push ups, since it was OK to work out while wearing that thing.

The next day I went back to the hospital.

I saw the cardiologist first. I breathed a sigh of relief as she took the heart monitor off me. She examined the screen and said everything was fine. She placed it on the table and went on to tell me some things I didn’t pay much attention to.

Before I left, I shot one last glance at the heart monitor. As far as I was concerned, it could go on to tell the cardiologist whatever the hell it wanted to tell her.

Then I went to the neurologist’s office.

The neurologist said that the reason why I had fainted was low blood pressure. He said it was nothing serious and all I had to do was be careful about certain things. Like hot baths. He said it would be best if I avoided to take long, hot baths altogether.

It made me think I had to be some sort of reptile. I get cold very quickly, especially when I’m feeling sleepy, and heavy winters are like hell to me. I go stiff during the night, like a desert lizard. There are mornings when I wake up and my hands are purplish and crooked, just like claws. Some say the world will end in fire, some say the world will end in ice. Or something like that. Some poet said it. Not me.

Dr. Kevorkian died in early June, when spring had already turned into full-blown summer. He was already dead when this happened.

On second thought, I don’t remember the dates very well. It could have been a few weeks before Dr. Kevorkian died, which means that he was still alive when this happened to me.

This did happen to me, though.


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