This blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent – former exotic dancer Anna Smith – was in hospital recently. I have just received this message from her:
I have started cardiac rehab at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
It is mostly exercise: walking on treadmills while listening to dreadful music from the 1970s… Much of the music is so bad and depressing that I wonder if it is some kind of aversion therapy to teach you not to have a heart attack.
We also continue to receive boring lectures about nutrition and stress management.
More interesting to me is the fact that I am to be tested for a genetic disorder called Marfan.
It is highly unusual to have an aortic dissection – about two in ten thousand people might have one – but it is more common in people with Marfan.
The cardiologists had been asking if I am ‘double jointed’ and I have often been described as such. When I was dancing, I could kick my leg back – like a ballet arabesque – and then kick myself in the head.
I was always quite proud of that… It would definitely get the attention of a crowded room when I did it on stage… But now, in my medical charts, ‘flexibility’ is listed as a ‘symptom’.
There is a big list of symptoms in the chart – chest pains, palpitations, diabetes, excess weight, high cholesterol, dizziness, etc etc.
None of the things on my list are ticked off, but the cardiologist has written FLEXIBLE at the bottom.
I made me wonder if some comic performers ought to be screened for Marfan… You know how people who are a bit physically odd are attracted to comedy.
It is very exciting to think that there might be a scientific reason for my oddity.
I must go now.
I am in training for some part-time work as a receptionist at a private club for suburban plumbers who enjoy wearing pantyhose.