This past Sunday evening, I started having some rather alarming heart issues. I was fine and then I wasn’t. My heart started racing. I felt shaky and very weak. I couldn’t see well. My balance was off. I was hot (and I’m NEVER hot), then normal, then hot again. I tried all my tricks…drinking Powerade Zero, using the Enlyten electrolyte strips, eating salt. Nothing helped. I would feel a tiny bit better and then, bam! It would get worse again. And I knew worse was bad. Worse was, “I’m in trouble.” After a couple of hours of trying to get my body to begin to stabilize, I realized I needed medical help. So I drove myself to the emergency room. Stupid to drive. But I wasn’t thinking all that clearly either. And I was scared. I was also thinking about how little I could afford the $250 ER co-pay. Hoping I was really sick enough to make it worth the expense. Thought I was, but it’s so hard for me to gauge this. And always, in the back of my mind, I hear my father’s voice telling me I had “better be sick enough” to justify the expense of taking me to the doctor. I have a hard time knowing if I’m sick enough. Turns out, I was. In fact, my potassium was 2.4. They told me my calcium and sodium was also at life-threateningly low levels. And that they were going to have to admit me to the hospital. I felt good about that for about 2 seconds. I WAS sick enough! And they waive the co-pay when you are admitted to the hospital from the ER! Then I realized I would be responsible for the $1500 deductible AND 20% of the bill up to $3500. I’m so close to bankruptcy, I almost told them to forget it, I’d rather just die. But then I thought of my dogs. Zoe and Hannah. Waiting at home for me to return. So I let them admit me. I lived. And now I’m in worse debt than ever. My situation is direr. And I’m scared for different reasons than I was on Sunday night. While in the hospital, I realized I have no one to call. No one who could take care of my girls for me in an emergency. No one to come in the middle of the night. I did call my brother. He said he would try to come down the following day. It’s a 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive for him. Too far to be comfortable and easy. And he was angry with me. He knows about my eating disorder. He blames me. Lectures me about how I need to stop. Yes. I do. I just don’t know how. For some stupid reason, it isn’t that easy. Or maybe I’m just stupid. I lay in the ER bed, watching the heart monitor, feeling my heart swing wildly from crazy beating, skipping beats, then slowing. I could see the breaks in the lines when it skipped. Could track the acceleration when the third line would swing up, up, up. Watched the numbers go from 7 to 76 and everything in between. And all too frequently those numbers were displayed in a red box. There was also a strange symbol that kept popping on the right side of the screen next to the numbers. It seemed to correlate to those skipped beats. I wanted to ask what it all meant, but in the end, I decided it didn’t matter. The bottom line was, I was an idiot and it was all my fault. I need so much help, I feel as if I’m in an impossible situation. And I’m making it worse with everything I do. To be completely factual, I did have some extenuating circumstances that probably propelled me into a crisis state. I’ve been taking antibiotics for a sinus infection. I have had some pretty awful sinus problems and I’m terrified of sinus infections. So even though the medication caused the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life, I kept taking it. Between that and my eating disorder, I suppose you could say that I was doomed. But still. Having to go to the ER and admit you have an eating disorder and you’ve been having diarrhea is much more shameful than only having to confess to diarrhea. One is entirely my fault. The other, being purely physical and largely not controllable, could be excused. We are not responsible for our illnesses, unless, of course, they are mental health illnesses. The ER nurse was very kind and compassionate. She didn’t treat me like the plague. In fact, she went out of her way to talk with me and treated me as if I had value. The doctor…not so much. Nor were any of the nurses I met once I was admitted the least understanding. They treated me the way I feel. Like I’m nothing. Stupid. Worthless. By the next morning, after a few IV’s and some mega-horse-pills, my potassium had risen to 3.5. They said that everything was still very low, but not at life-threatening levels. Still too low to go home, but the emergency was over. Problem. Who to call to take care of my dogs. Same answer I got in the middle of the night. No one. Which is why, at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, I checked myself out against medical advice. It wasn’t what I wanted. I told them I would come back, but that I HAD to take care of my dogs. They looked at me like I was even crazier than they had first thought. Drew up the AMA forms, predicted dire consequences; I signed and walked away. I was exhausted. Still trembling. But my heart wasn’t beating as if it was going to burst from my chest. My hands weren’t shaking. My vision wasn’t blurry. My blood pressure had returned to normal. I could stand without feeling like I was going to pass out. Good to go…well, good enough. I came home and finally got some sleep. Went to work today. My boss, whom I had e-mailed from the ER, wanted to know what had happened and why I wasn’t at work the day before…what had caused my hospital stay. The company has a thing about attendance and I am supposed to set an example. Sigh. Didn’t tell him about the eating disorder. Just the diarrhea caused by the antibiotics, and luckily, that seemed to be good enough to satisfy him. I showed him the bruises and huge knots caused by the IV’s. Brought in my expensive hospital bracelets to prove I wasn’t making it all up. I think I get to keep my job. For now. Even if it doesn’t pay enough to cover my expenses. It’s way better than unemployment. I’m ashamed. My brother hasn’t bothered to contact me since I sent him a text and told him not to make the drive. That I was home. Sorry to have bothered him. But I’m going to have to try to find someone who will take care of my dogs for me, just in case I am stuck in the hospital again and near death. I can’t find anyone who will take care of me, but they are sweet and innocent, so maybe, just maybe, someone will rescue them. I think it’s too late for me anyway. And no one has ever felt compelled come to my rescue. I seem to repel people rather than make them feel good about providing me with assistance or cutting me slack. Which, I suppose, is how it is supposed to be. It is, after all, totally and completely my own fault. And I am, as is expected, simply reaping what I have sown. Mercy is for the worthy people. For those who are not to blame. For those who have value. Not for broken, messed up, idiots like me. Who are not deserving of compassion, love, caring, or aid. Even if tenderness, mercy and assistance are what I so desperately need. And what my still-beating heart is begging for.