I’m peckish. Its mid-afternoon and supper is hours away. We skip lunch thanks to a late breakfast following a 10 mile bike ride. I weigh up the contents of the fridge. There’s a cold chicken leg calling out to me. Cold chicken legs have much the same effect as cold sausages. They’re very hard to ignore.
Chicken legs tend to come in ones or twos, unlike their porcine neighbours who hunt in packs. Have you ever seen just one cold sausage in a fridge? Sirens of the cool-box, they pull us in, with promises of pickles, mustard and gherkins. Fortunately we have no cold sausages and so I snack rather than feast.
One chicken leg is not enough but by an heroic display of will-power I leave the other one for Annie. Like Old Mother Hubbard’s children I prowl the kitchen looking in all the cupboards for the next course. I come across a packet of rice cakes and attempt to disguise what is really nothing more than a circular polystyrene ceiling tile, by adding a thick layer of extra mature cheddar cheese. This hits the spot and I settle down to read the paper.
No sooner have I wiped the crumbs from my lap when my heart starts to quiver. I check my pulse – I can’t tell the BPM – but I know fast or slow. It’s ectopic; moderately fast with every 6th beat missing. Was it the 2nd cheese-laden rice cake? I can’t re-run this particular experiment. In the interest of science I decide to skip the pill-in-the pocket to see how long this episode lasts.
In the event, it’s about 2 hours, although the effects – lethargy and breathlessness last until the next day. This is all very interesting; the periodicity is roughly the same but the duration is falling. The first episode lasted 36 hours. Since the end of June the episodes of heart arrhythmia have occurred on average every 27.8 days (plus or minus a couple of days). This is close to the lunar cycle. Hmm. I obviously need more readings before I can publish a ground-breaking paper. You won’t get taken seriously with just 5 points on your graph paper. No matter how neatly you label your axes.
(I think) I understand the principles here; after an ablation the heart has to establish new pathways for electrical conductivity because some of the original pathways have been zapped and so are no longer available. So although I get the what, I don’t get the how or the why.
I’ve lived with a Maths teacher long enough to know the difference between coincidence and significance. I just rather like the idea of my heart rewiring itself according to the phases of the moon. Or the sun, which has a similar rotation period. We are children of the cosmos, billion year-old carbon, like the song says; “We are Star dust, we are golden….”