He’s personable and easy on the eyes, but he certainly had his decisions made without listening to what I had to say. And when I got home and read his notes… I don’t know if I can say I felt betrayed or even insulted. I knew what was happening while I was there. It was a gut reaction and I felt myself shutting down.
He said I was fine, my heart monitor was fine, and my EKG was fine, and then he asked if I had any more episodes. I asked for clarification on what he meant by episode and explained that as of last week my heart rate had calmed by about 20 beats per minute. And that I had two more unexplained episodes of lightheadedness that almost ended in falls.
I pointed out that I wrote everything down if he had any questions about my symptoms and also said that I bought an Apple Watch.
He didn’t seem interested in any of it, only in my episode of a-fib. And then he noticed that my primary care doctor had ordered a tilt table test. “That’s odd,” he said, looking at my record.
“He wants to rule out POTS,” I said.
He gave a little nose grunt of disapproval.
“Do you have any questions?” he asked.
Not that I was willing to ask. Based on how he seemed to be judging my primary care physician there was no way in hell I was asking questions of this man.
When I read his summary of our visit when I looked at my online chart, he blatantly called out my primary care physician for considering POTS and said my symptoms were not consistent with that, and blamed my falls on my poor balance.
I might have cerebral palsy, but I don’t have “poor” balance. It’s not “good” but it’s not “poor” and I have the physical therapy records to prove it. Actually, I was released from physical therapy today. When these episodes happen, I can feel that the problem is not my legs. So my heart looks fine, and I’m very happy about that, but I’m angry that he just attributed the whole stint in the hospital as caused by my poor balance. The night of the accident I had been showing off to my trainer Andrew how well I could stand on one leg.
When I read his notes I got even more upset, because he’s blaming my orthostatic hypotension on dehydration and makes it sound as if I don’t drink water. I said symptoms are worse on the weekend, probably because I don’t drink as much water. I drink about 60 ounces at work alone, which means on a typical weekday I drink about 80 hours of water, maybe 8 ounces of another beverage and 12 ounces of coffee. Subtract about 60 ounces water off that on Saturday and Sunday.
And he also says I drink more now, especially when my blood pressure is low, and what I said was that I keep an electrolyte powder by my bed and mix a portion of that to drink in the morning if my blood pressure drops, as suggested by my primary care physician.
So I looked at my ekg– my heart shows a normal sinus rhythm and arrhythmia.
I emailed my primary care doctor and said the cardiologist is not a match and after I get the next couple weeks of appointments done, I want to follow up with him (my PCP) to talk about my medications. And I’m also thinking of asking about a registered dietician and some nutritional resources.
Today my heart rate is up. My blood pressure is low. I have headaches and everything in my body hurts.
**author’s note: I’m sorry, not sorry, that this piece has become rather long and a tad historical. I will divide the piece with subheadings so that readers seeking particular topics can scan quickly. But for those who love historical context and rambling storytelling combined with my unique chaos, have at it.
It’s a quiet October morning, before the sun rises, and I am sharing my thoughts with you regarding our experience last night at the 4th Annual Easton Book Festival (2022). I’m posting in my personal blog, as I don’t know if I have fully formed thoughts (other than I had my concerns that the grassroots chaos of the festival, part of its charm, might drive my organized self to lose my mind and LO! and BEHOLD! I had a great time. Perhaps the cusp Taurus in me is mellowing into a new calmer self, my Gemini side).
I appeared briefly in the original Easton Book Festival “trailer,” look for me on YouTube with my salmon dress which looks rather orange and my trademark scarf. I join a lot of local celebrities so that tickles me.
The pandemic appeared in the festival’s youth and the city has decided to renovate (and in my humble opinion destroy) Centre Square, where the Book & Puppet Company bookstore is located. They have reduced the circle from two lanes of traffic to one and eliminated all the parking in front of businesses. They have also been toying with the traffic patterns, often closing main streets and making the traditional heart of the downtown one way. As someone who has lived in this community for more than a quarter of a century, I’m annoyed.
My history with downtown Easton
The city has two main parking decks currently in the same basic vicinity, which is good, but they have destroyed one convenient central parking lot and pocket park to build a new deck, which is not open yet. The oldest of the parking structures will soon be eliminated, as are on-street parking permits for residents. As more upscale apartments and multi-story structures join the historic downtown, the footprint of the city is changing. Or perhaps gentrifying.
My first apartment, with poet Darrell Parry, who is on the board of the festival, was an absolute dump but so much fun. We were two recently out of college, engaged kids with a pile of student loan debt and cars that barely ran. I worked at Lafayette College in the Public Information Office and Darrell worked at Caldor, a department store that, like many, no longer exists. It started his career as a shipper/receiver and honed his skill as the master of packing boxes.
Our rent for our strange one-bedroom started at $450 a month, with off-street parking and basic utilities included. We couldn’t afford cable and dial-up internet so we chose internet as we had television our entire lives and the World Wide Web was new. We would often scrape our change together and walk to Coffee and Tea Time Café, which also no longer exists, and I believe the structure is now part of the freshly-reconstructed Hearst Magazine offices that have moved to Easton from New York City. And on spaghetti nights we would order garlic bread from Colonial Pizza, which does still exist, since the restaurant was practically across the street. When we would call to order, they would often say, “Is this the neighbor?”
And then after spaghetti and garlic bread, we would go down to The Purple Cow Creamery, which later had to change it’s name to Bank Street Creamery, but you can still go there for ice cream. It’s not the same owners as it was in my day, but it has remained a hot spot of the downtown.
And since I’m already aging myself, I might as well add that Book & Puppet stands pretty much next to a place called The Crayola Factory. When I was an intern at Binney & Smith (now rebranded as Crayola since that’s the name everyone knows), I was tasked with writing and pitching a then under-construction, exciting new attraction in the former Orr’s building, another defunct local department store, called Two Rivers Landing. It would contain The Crayola Factory and the National Canal Museum.
(And I happen to be a Crayola junkie and a canal aficionado.)
You see, in my day, you could actually walk through the real Crayola factory in Forks Township and follow this blue line through all the stages of crayon and marker production. When you arrived at corporate offices in the morning, if they were making crayons, the air would carry that trademark warm aroma of wax, and if they were making markers, it smelled like burnt plastic.
I can remember sitting in my cubicle in corporate communications pitching my press release about this new family attraction to national magazines. My small, unattributed contribution to history. I did a lot of fun things at Crayola. Including dressing professional dancers in phallic crayon costumes at New York City’s Rainbow Room.
Okay, so now you see why I did not start this in the Parisian Phoenix Publishing professional blog. Because I’ve transformed into an old woman telling you the way it was in my day. And if I want to throw it back another generation, whenever I get off topic, I like to reference Arlo Guthrie‘s “Alice’s Restaurant.” If you don’t know the song, you’re young enough to find it on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Music. “This is a song about Alice. Remember Alice?” the lyrics say, even though the song seems to have nothing to do with Alice for most of the 18-or-so minutes the song goes on.
This is a song about the Easton Book Festival and “Sex in the Text.” Remember the Easton Book Festival?
This is a song about Alice. Remember Alice?
Darrell hates that song.
Opening Act: Poetry galore
I will not make a James Bond reference off of that title to relate it back to “Sex in the Text.”
Lynn Alexander opened the poetry segment reading from her collection, Find Me in the Iris. Followed by our own Nancy Scott, then Darrell and Rebecca Reynolds. Nancy read from newer work, including a poem about her recent move. Darrell read from his book, Twists: Gathered Ephemera, with a rather stunning introduction delivered by Lafayette English professor and festival board president, Chris Phillips. Rebecca read from each of her books (Daughter of the Hangnail and The Bovine Two-Step) and her work in progress.
And if you ever wanted to watch someone read Braille, here’s your chance.
Sex in the Text: Making Love Between the Pages
So, for some reason GLVWG (Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group) and our (Darrell, the festival board, myself and Book & Puppet) connections did not yield more panelists for this discussion. So, Darrell and I talked about making the panel into a talk show type format where questions could be placed on index cards and William Prystauk, author of the Kink Noir series, and I could ask the questions of each other Oprah-style and discuss.
We had a fantastic time and the questions were thoughtful not only from a literary perspective but also from a societal values perspective.
It was a refreshing night, and I hope the spectators enjoyed it as much as Bill and I did.
The holiday season, 2007. My daughter was a week shy of three-and-a-half years old. I recall having plans this night. Grown-up plans. My editor from the Morning Call telephoned and asked me to do this quick assignment. Famous last words.
I am not a fan of Disney. I like the classic Disney films like Mary Poppins, Pete’s Dragon and maybe a Bambi or Lady and the Tramp. (Okay, maybe not Lady because I get really upset when Lady gets thrown out of the house.) Blame Hunchback of Notre Dame. I went to go see it with the man I later married. I did a “May term” in college where I traveled to Paris for three-plus weeks to study the influence of politics on the art and architecture of various periods and Hunchback/the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris were on the list. When we returned to the States, we read the various literary works in the original French. Except for Hunchback because we had worn our poor professor thin and he asked us to please read it in English over the weekend. His plan was to meet with us Monday and be done with us so he could continue with his summer.
And it would have taken us too long to read the book in French. This is my back story. It frames my anticipation for the Disney film.
I arrive in the theater. I am watching. The cathedral is on fire. Esmerelda crawls into her cot where in the book she dies. I am crying. In the book, everyone dies. Tragedy is a French necessity.
She wakes up and lives happily-ever-after.
I was very angry.
Flash forward about ten years and I’m sitting in the Crayola Factory in downtown Easton with a thousand other people waiting for a star of the Hannah Montana TV series who, like everyone else in the Lehigh Valley, got caught in traffic on our infamous highway Route 22.
And I’m waiting for a much needed date night after I file. I barely met my deadline this night, and instead of date night I treated myself to an album of French Christmas carols I downloaded from iTunes. And, to further frame the way my life often works, the album turned out to be instrumental with some children singing “La la la” where the words should be.
My husband claimed they were French “la’s.”
I have been teased mercilessly about this album.
To return to the story for one last moment, I tried to inflect some humor into it. And Mitchel Musso was a really nice guy. Not that I know/knew who he is. I barely knew the name Hannah Montana.