Oh no, no romantic or tearjerker stories, I am talking about the heart as a vital organ. Maybe there is a little bit of romance, because in the end I developed a little love for this peculiarity of mine, since it has allowed me to become who I am today and to build a great resilience. Oh right, I have always refused to consider my arrhythmia a problem because I have always seen it as a peculiarity rather than an obstacle: something different doesn’t have to be something wrong, as the word problem might indicate, but simply something that life forces you to face to make you develop personal characteristics that you will need in the future.
In November 1996, while my mother was holding me, she felt that my heart was beating too fast. After several medical consultations, it was determined that I had paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. What is it? Nothing serious actually, a few years of anti-arrhythmic drugs, lots of electrocardiograms and no endurance sports. Of course, for someone who wants to go on trekking adventures for several-days, to climb and to take a scuba-diving course is not exactly the best, but all in all, I’ve been doing pretty well for several years. After all, they said that in most cases in adolescence it’s a problem that disappears on its own, so we hardly thought about it.
To be honest, I had had a few fainting spells here and there, so that my parents would never relax too much. In particular, there are two anecdotes that still make us smile when remembering them. The first one concerns an episode that happened when I was 10 years old. I was playing in my room and I slammed my pinky toe against the bed… it hurt like hell! I quickly recovered thanks to my young age and five minutes later I went for dinner: that evening my mum cooked caprese, tomatoes and mozzarellas seasoned with oil and salt. Of course, if you had to faint, the best time is just after sitting down at the table, when the greased plate in front of you is ready to welcome your face!
Another episode that I remember laughing, that still isn’t funny for my brother, happened in 2009, during a trip to Florida. We were in the Everglades, southern Florida, in the middle of August and you can imagine the heat and humidity. The problem is that Americans don’t understand that it’s not normal to put on a jumper when you enter a shop and have a 20° difference between outdoors and indoors. Well, we went into a hotel, my mother was trying so hard to understand the tight American English spoken by the woman at the reception… a moment of total concentration in short. And I started telling my brother back there “Enry, I can’t see anything, Enry I can’t see anything“. He ran to call my mother, who told us to be quiet and then, like any good exhibitionist, I collapsed on the floor. Oh, I think the following five minutes count for my fifteen minutes of glory in life as I had half the hotel around me (I’m kidding, I was so embarrassed!). In short, don’t walk into an hotel in Florida after eating otherwise you risk skipping your boat trip to the Everglades because you’re locked in your room due to a fainting spell!
In a nutshell, a fairly quiet childhood, except for a few anecdotes, perhaps even fun to remember. Then one fine day, precisely a few hours before the New Year’s Eve dinner in 2012, I felt unwell. It was as if my body had no more strength, I was sitting on the sofa but I was out of breath. Testing my wrist solved the arcane mystery: arrhythmias! After an hour trying to calm them down with techniques the doctors taught my parents over the years, we decided to go to the hospital. In the end there was nothing wrong at all, when we got there my little heart had almost completely calmed down and I was discharged twelve minutes before midnight, when, in my father’s company, we toasted with an imaginary drink in the Bologna city centre. Still one of the most beautiful toasts. We consoled ourselves by saying that the new year began with the exit from the hospital and not with the entrance, so in our opinion it was of good omen… no guys, if you end up in hospital on New Year’s Eve, know that there is a good chance that the coming year will be a shitty one.