Previous parts here:
I went home two days after the operation, expecting to have pain in my groin, where they had inserted the two catheters. That was the case, but it went away after a short time, even though I am still susceptible there, so that, when the weather changes, I feel a slight discomfort.
The real problem was something else. Since birth, the arrhythmia had been part of me, although I noticed it rarely and under certain conditions. And probably the fact that I hadn’t felt it so often was the sign that it was with me all the time: my heart used to beat pretty randomly so much that it was ordinary to my body’s perception. In a nutshell, it was a wrong rhythm, but it was my rhythm. And now, even if the ‘new rhythm’ was right, it was different from the one I used to live with.
What did this means on a practical level? You know those cheesy phrases like ‘My sweetheart changed the rhythm of my heart’? Well, trust me, don’t say that, it’s not nice. I still struggle to explain it. For example, getting up from the couch and going for a walk was very complicated, I was immediately out of breath, and succeeding in the ordinary things seemed extraordinary. Getting up from the sofa was like getting up from the sofa… but with 200 kg on me! For a few days, everyday life had looked like an inhuman effort, but then things improved. I can assure you that it is one of the worst experiences I have ever had and I still think about it sometimes.
From this experience, I understood what “a matter of perspective” means. My rhythm was objectively wrong, but it was right on my eyes because I didn’t know what it meant to have a regular rhythm. I realised it the first time I came back to rollerblading two weeks later. It was a short ride, but I wanted to test myself, even though I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t feel anything different while I was skating, but, when I got home, I realised that my breath was ok in a few minutes. And I thought that had never happened before. I realised that it isn’t expected that after a slight effort someone feels dizzy, see the “stars” and need several minutes of breathlessness to recover. Shit, it wasn’t normal to be so tired after running to catch a train or a short bike ride! I had never complained because it was normal for me and I thought it was like this for everyone else. After all, how do you know it’s weird if it’s always been like that? The memory of how I felt when I realised this is still very vivid today.
I realised what it had meant for so long to have that little extra piece in my heart and the endurance my body had become accustomed to. I could have reacted in many ways, I guess, but the feeling I was overwhelmed by was gratitude. I was grateful to my body for taking me to that point of my life, without any relevant troubles through the way. It had never left me on dangerous situations, had always collapsed when I was at home with my parents, who knew how to make me feel better. It had never left me far from those who could help me. I had always managed to achieve the goals I wanted, and even though I had had to give up some experiences I would have enjoyed, I had lived happily for all those years. I was grateful to my parents because they had always spurred me towards non-dangerous activities, so that they did not have to say “no” to other ones not suitable for my body, avoiding to create a sense of inadequacy into me. And above all, I was grateful to Dr. B., who had cared about me since I was a child, always considering me first as a person and then as a patient. He knew for sure that I had arrhythmias all the time and that this was the reason why I didn’t feel them, but he had never told me not to scare me. He was also aware that many of the other problems I complained about were almost certainly a consequence of my body’s strain every day. Still, he even knew that I would be terrified by this awareness, so he had made sure that I avoided uncomfortable situations over the years with some advice. In this way, he didn’t kill the liveliness and enthusiasm for life that have always distinguished me. And then, when I told him that the life I was imagining was full of adventures around the world and with my nose in the air studying the stars, he understood that I would need all my energy to make my dreams come true, so he pushed for the operation.
I think I will never forget that feeling of revelation I had after those few kilometres on the roller skates. I understood everything and felt suddenly and infinitely free and strong. To this day, I think I have had very few moments when I have loved myself as much as I did that evening. I felt so healthy and beautiful after so long, and it was the most wonderful feeling ever.
That was the day I started to get emotional about simple things.