Tag Archives: aging

It’s all about the heart

For some time I have suspected that spirituality is all about the heart. Now I get to experience my own physical, literal heart.

Tomorrow morning I will undergo angioplasty and cardio catheterization. Sure, I’d heard of these terms, even knew people undergoing them, but never me. This time, I’m in the Cath Room.

After three episodes of chest pains and shortness of breath in less than a week, I phoned my doctor. A referral, please. Something’s going on. Two times were on a treadmill at the fitness center. But when I felt pain walking my dogs in the community center’s field, I knew something was seriously wrong.

I got in the next morning to the Ohio Heart and Vascular Center on Harrison Avenue. How fortunate I was to see Dr. JoAnna English, cardiologist. After an EKG showing abnormal t waves, she insisted I chew five baby aspirin on the spot. I felt safe in her hands:  not only was she intelligent, she had empathy–a combination not always found in physicians.

My task is to be a “couch potato” all weekend. I did pretty well yesterday but spending most of the time on the phone and internet made that easy. I’ve been an activist and doer for decades so this does not come naturally to me. I am enjoying being at home, not having to do even those fun things every day. I have yet to get back to that book I was reading.  I am forbidden to walk my dogs. I am doing a laundry of sofa covers as I write since I am having company this afternoon.

But back to my heart. Cuz it’s all about the heart. Honestly, I’ve taken it for granted. How do I know? Yesterday morning as I lay on one side, I heard and felt the regular and reassuring beats. Thump thump, thump thump. “You’re there,” I thought, “working even as I sleep, even as I forget that you are the most important organ of my body.”  THANK YOU.  In the afternoon I took a short nap midway through reading the pamphlets that go over my procedures in language and pictures that even a kid in 6th grade could understand.

“How Your Heart Works.” “How Angioplasty Treats Heart Disease.” Understanding Angioplasty.” “Understanding Cardiac Catheterization.”  [c Krames Communications]

Step-by-step, they explain what will happen. You see, I’m the kind of person who wants to know, no, NEEDS to know. I’ve always been like that, asking WHY?  to my poor mother. I became a reference and research librarian, after all. Got paid to look things up and help the public find everything they wanted.

So, theoretically, I know. But I am 64 11/12. Ironically, turning 65 has been a Big Thing. I’ll (hopefully!) celebrate this one February 17th–only nine days away. And this year I will certainly appreciate my mortality in a deeper, more heartfelt way.

conversation with an 87 year old / poem 107

I saved Mr. G. for last today. Most Fridays I deliver meals to some elderly people in my neighborhood. Today I would have a chance to visit with Mr. G. since he got out of the hospital.

I had taken him for a same day cystoscopy procedure on Monday. Because of the anesthesia, his doctor required him to stay overnight in a hospital since he lived alone and wouldn’t have anyone to watch him. Because his tumor was causing bleeding, they were waiting for the blood to lessen in his catheter before releasing him.

We drank some coffee together at his kitchen table. After delivering meals to him for nearly two years, we’d come to this neighborly habit most Fridays. He showed me the papers from the hospital. A librarian there had printed out information about his illness and the medication. I was impressed. “See,” I said, “This is the kind of information you can find on a computer. You are such a reader and so inquisitive, I bet you’d like getting online.” In response, he showed me a few magazines he subscribed to and asked if I’d like them after he was done reading them. I told him I hoped I’d be so mentally sharp when I’m his age — if I make it to his age.

how long do I have?

This is a useless question but one I sometimes wonder.
All my zen practice disappears in the dust
when the 59 year old faces the future.

Reminiscing with Rose, Poem #10

Sometimes I go to lunch with 83 year old Rose. I deliver meals to her and one time she said “I like your company!” How refreshing — to say something so direct.

We went to one of her favorite neighborhood places and, since it didn’t take very long and the sun was shining, I asked her if she’d like to ride to the library with me. I had two books on hold and one of them was a funny novel that I was ready for. The library visit was a simple transaction. I asked her, “anywhere you’d like to go?” Wistfully, Rose answered, “Northside.”

Well, there was no question about it. Northside is one of my favorite places. I lived there 15 years, after all, in that beautiful grandiose Victorian on Haight Avenue. I took the lovely woods shortcut through Mt. Airy and in no time we were in the neighborhood where we both once lived.

Poem #10

We both have memories here
but your sighs are deeper.
Your husband died and I only retired.