February 9, 2004

I was fit for a Holter Monitor today, which will screen my heartís activities for twenty-four hours. I have seven brightly colored wires stuck to myself, and a heavy-duty tape recorder slung over my shoulder. I bought myself an ice cream cone at the hospital cafť, because I was a very good girl during the whole appointment.

Other people usually have no idea if I have a problem. Sure, the occasional head cold broadcasts itself quite well. But, overall, I can almost always hide my troubles. The cashier at the supermarket has no idea when I have a stomachache. My roommates donít know when my knee is hurting. The waitress at Cup and Saucer doesnít have a clue when I am having a really bad day.

With a heart monitor over my shoulder and a bunch or multicolored wires going up my shirt, however, I feel like I am announcing to the world I HAVE A PROBLEM. What makes the feeling worse is that I am wearing this heart monitor only to reassure myself that I am healthy. Not one of my doctors is worried. So Iím a poser. Iím a person-with-serious-problems poser.

I went to the gym tonight, as I am pretty sure that my PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) are exercise-induced. My gym, by the way, is rad. Itís for girls only and thereís a special room with a light box and eucalyptus steam. And thereís fun machines. And cool classes. And nice people! Anyhow, the first class I took tonight was step aerobics, which I have never taken before. I felt a little silly because, really, thereís not much more to step aerobics that stepping up and stepping down over and over again. Also, the instructor kept her eye on me the whole time. At first I thought it was because I was obviously a beginner stepper, but then I more appropriately identified her look as the kind of look you give to someone with a serious problem. She thought I was going to keel over in her class, and was therefore watching me with a mix of sympathy and utter fear.

[Warning: the following paragraph contains many self-aggrandizing statements. While the author of this journal does not usually encourage this type of behavior, on this occasion she really thought quite highly of herself, and she wanted to share this with her readers.]

After step aerobics I took kickboxing, also for the first time. I felt pretty cool. And I have big muscles. And I donít get out of breath like I used to. And I like my haircut. And I can kick higher than everybody in my class.

On the way out of the gym I checked my voicemail to find a delightful and wonderfully lengthy message from Lila Rose, who is slowly but surely turning into one of the characters from her plays. It was funny, then, to go out to a coffee shop with Sam and order our foodstuffs from a girl who reminded me so much of Lila Rose. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Do you have chocolate soymilk?
Annie: You are exciting! Iím Annie!
(We enthusiastically shake hands.)
Me: Hi Annie! This is Sam.
Sam: Iím not as exciting.
Annie: Yes, you are! You are both wonderful people!

The place was called the Red and Black Cafť, and it was filled with young people who were sitting in circles and being creative. After eavesdropping a bit, we determined that one group worked for an environmental nonprofit, one was group discussing poetry, and one group was studying for a biology test. It was packed with Bohemians, you bet, so packed in fact that I had to sit in a highchair. Rather, on top of a highchair.

After a delightful dinner, a large glass of soymilk, and a piece of chocolate cake, Sam and I walked home to watch another episode of Twin Peaks, the heart monitor swinging happily between us.

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2.13.04 Addendum: The results for the heart monitor came back and, though my heart skips about 600 beats per day, it is in no way dangerous or indicative of a bigger problem. Phew.