I really have a terrible time getting enough symptoms lined up to interest a doctor.

I can’t tell you how many times I have developed Nocturnal Cancer only to be completely recovered by daylight. I can’t tell you how much pain I’ve had with my knees and back and neck that surely was going to worsen with age—and I had x-rays to prove it—only to start doing Egoscue exercises and have them go away completely and, apparently, permanently. Nothing ever hangs on long enough for me to plan the music for my funeral. But I had great expectations for my heart palpitations.

After all, your heart is supposed to be popping along like a metronome. You don’t want it skipping beats, in case it gets the notion to skip all of them. I’ve had palpitations numerous times, but most notably during puberty and menopause. There seems to be a hormonal element to it, but all my feminizing hormones have long since packed their bags and split town, taking my muscle tone with them, and leaving behind nothing but a short note on my chin hairs. Consequently, my palpitations have subsided to a few random short episodes a month. Naturally, I’ve brought them up to the doctor before, but she always shoos me away, explaining that she’d love to chat but she has sick people to attend to.

But in the last two weeks, for no discernible reason, I have been having these skipped heartbeats about once a minute. It felt just new and alarming enough to merit a call to the advice nurse. He asked a lot of questions that I believe I had the right answers to (“No, no, never, no, yes but only two or three and sometimes a little splash of gin later”). And then he said they’d like to see me in person. Today. Or tomorrow.


Unfortunately…he went tappity-tap for a while…we don’t have any clinicians available today or tomorrow, so we recommend you go to Urgent Care. Today. Or tomorrow.

Today? Or tomorrow? It doesn’t feel that Urgent. Really?

Really, he said.

Tomorrow, then. I hung up the phone and for the rest of the day everything felt a lot more Urgent.

When I woke up the next day, and sat quietly with my coffee, I felt no palpitations whatsoever. My check-engine light was no longer lit up, and except for those ominous noises coming from the bottom of my chassis, which I swear are normal, I was good as new. I went in anyway. Got an EKG. Got my vitals taken. Got this and got that. Got listened to.

The doctor was very confident. He said my vital signs were that of a fifty-year-old. He said my EKG was unchanged from the last time I had one, during the menopause palpitation episode. He said I was healthy as a horse, and not one of your sickly spavined numbers, either. I am a freaking stallion in a recliner. He said I was “lean.” I heard him the first time but I made him repeat it just for fun. “Lean.”

Shouldn’t I wear one of those 24-hour dealies to make sure?

A Holter monitor? No. In fact, you do not even qualify for one. There’s nothing wrong with you.

All right. That’s good, I guess. Just seems like for a thirty-buck copay he could at least find a mole or something.