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.