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June 30, 2006 - 8:10 am

No one feels very good about having a serious disease–be it heart disease, cancer, or a multiple of other scary diagnoses. However, there is a lighter side to having medical problems that I have just discovered anew this week. I am not sure what is going on at my local mall, but apparently, the metal detectors that screen for shoplifters have been reset to be more sensitive. Since getting my a href=”http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11227″cardioverter implantable defibrillator/a last year, I can count on one hand how many metal detectors I have set off because of the metal in my device. br /br /However, while shopping at the mall this week, I set off every detector I went near or by. At first, I was annoyed and with my pissed-off look, no clerks dared to stop me or ask me about the detector going off. I know that these things are set off frequently by other items but the rate they were going off the day I was shopping got to be comical. At one point, two teenage girls were behind me as the metal detector went off. I turned to see the store manager stopping the girls to ask them about the contents of their large purses. Me, I just saundered over to a bench, sat back and watched the show. Dark humor, yeah, I know, but give me a break–sometimes, being a medical freakshow has its sick twisted side.br /br /My defibrillator has also gotten me some funny stories this week. I went in to see my electrophysiologist to check out my device. He and his staff looked rather disgusted and put out. As a psychologist, I couldn’t help but ask them what the problem was. The physician’s assistant just shook his head and said, “well, the patients we have here just don’t listen. We just got a late call for an emergency from one of our patients this week who is about 70 years old. He has a defibrillator and heart problems and he is out drinking and partying with two hookers and his brother. He gets dehydrated from all of the alcohol, then has sex with the hookers and gets his heart rate over the recommended limit, then gets in a fight with his brother, his defibrillator goes off, shocks both of them, they fall down and end up in the emergency room. Then it’s our problem.” Somehow, the image of this guy and his brother being shocked in a drunken stupor seems more comical than anything. I realize it is serious but I have to admire the tenacity of these guys to party like this and live life with such gusto. Me–I’m sitting home drinking water and doing yoga. Who is having more fun? br /br /Okay, maybe the hookers and high levels of booze are out for me–but the zest for life and lack of fear is frankly, more uplifting than scanning the internet about my condition and being convinced that each heartbeat is my last. After hearing another story about a patient of my doc’s who has survived 66 shocks with his defibrillator, I would rather err towards throwing caution to the wind and enjoy life while I can then dwell on fear and doom. That, in the end, no matter how long each of us live, would be the biggest misfortune of all.br /br /Update: Well, apparently Dick Cheney is not having as much fun as the guys I wrote about above (you know, the sex, hookers and all) as his a href=”http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/4018414.html”defibrillator has not gone off yet./a I guess running the country means means you have to take life a little more seriously.

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