Blog Home Agent of Chaos City Poetry Zine Buy Stuff!
...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )

the beatnik goes on

2nd chance – foto by Smith

Most every time I count my pulse now, it is steady, 60 beats per minute, with no skipped beats.

In Croatia December 2006, Lady lying with her head on my chest suddenly said, “Your heart’s stopping.”

What do you mean?

“It goes beat beat beat beat, stop, beat beat beat, stop.”

I listened and she was right. Scared the hell out of me.

I figured it had to do with drinking two pots of super-strong Croatian coffee every day along with chocolate bars, toasted peanut butter honey and butter sandwiches, cookies, cashews, and almost no water.

As always my solution was “Let’s wait until tomorrow. It’ll be better then.”

I drank a lot of water, and it was.

But it came back and we walked to the bus, road 30 minutes from the fishing village to the 3,000 year old city of Pula, walked to the hospital emergency room, and for $37 got a doctor, a nurse, an EKG, and the emergency room services. They told me I was healthy, and not to worry unless it got under 5 beats before each skip.

I cut down coffee, candy, cookies, cashews, drank a lot of water, but basically for the next couple years my heart beat anywhere from five to forty beats and then would stop once.

One time in the Pula library I couldn’t find my pulse at all (because I was doing it badly), had a panic attack, ran into the men’s room and did a bunch of fast toe touches to get me going again, which just made my already anxiety-attacked rapidly beating heart go that much faster.

The scariest though was in Mexico during my hernia operation. I was awake with a spinal block and could hear my heart beat over the audio speakers. Every now and then the sensor would slip off my chest and the beat would stop and the doctors just kept on talking and cutting until the nurse came over and hooked me back up. But the rest of the times I’d hear my heart beat real fast erratically 5-7 beats then stop for two. Scared the hell out of me. It was one long unbearable operation where my mind would tell my brain “I can’t take this anymore” and brain would answer “hold on, you have no choice.” It is those moments that I literally ‘endure’ as I hold myself together second to second to second waiting for something to break.

I was in a lot of pain after the operation and the doctor gave me some very good codeine pills that worked quite well for a couple days, until I took my pulse and found I was down to two beats and a stop, two beats and a stop, and again I got scared, stopped taking the codeine and got my heart back up to 5 or 7 before each stop. I got to the point where I figured if I got 12 beats before the skip, I was doing right fine.

But what I find weird is we’ve been living back here in the U.S. for the past 17 months and my heart beat has essentially returned to normal. It’s odd because I find life to be much more stressful up here because it’s faster, more expensive, we’re driving at 70 miles per hour all the time, and people often have an edge of aggression to them.

And yet my heart here is happy, beatnik-wise anyway. The Croatian doctor thought my arrhythmia could be a symptom of stress, and maybe there is a stress in living in lands where I don’t know the language, customs, or rules, or even how and where to find anything we need to buy. Once in Krakow I bought a bottle of mouthwash which was displayed next to the toothbrushes and went home and gargled with it — it was bubble bath. Believe me; you do not want to gargle with bubble bath. Turns out the Polish word for mouthwash is also bubble bath and car oil. Guess I was lucky it wasn’t the oil.

But now I’m back in Cleveland, in the Land and County and City of the Stress I Know, and my heart has relaxed, started beating properly again, most times.

Go figure. Maybe it’s just because my body is back in the poisons it knows and is comfortable with.

Lady’s modified t-shirt – foto by Smith

One Response to “the beatnik goes on”

  1. chris says:

    i have an irregular heartbeat that I’ve had on and off since my late 20’s. it is noticeably worse if I am anxious… or under extra stress. And not the ordinary stress but the unusual kind.
    So perhaps something to it.

Leave a Reply

Copyright (c) 2009 Smith & Lady
Designed by Lady K