At this writing, I am contemplating – with some trepidation – an upcoming procedure called a coronary angiogram. I’ve known something is wrong for a few years (part of the reason for my recent …
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At this writing, I am contemplating – with some trepidation – an upcoming procedure called a coronary angiogram. I’ve known something is wrong for a few years (part of the reason for my recent leave of absence), and testing recommended by an astute doctor who put all the pieces together revealed that I do indeed have a problem. The angiogram will determine the extent of that problem and whether I need to have one or more stents placed in the arteries to my heart during the process.
I don’t fear not coming out alive. It’s a pretty routine procedure … send a tiny camera from my wrist up through the veins to my heart, check it all out, and place the stent(s) if necessary. Successful completion of this process is likely to improve my quality of life significantly – I’ve been out of breath for years.
(Because of the car accident last year, I haven’t returned to anything resembling my previous level of physical activity, and I was pretty much expecting the cardiologist to tell me that I’m seriously out of shape. This may still be true but they detected more than that. And now here we are.)
No, my trepidation stems from the unknown. What will they find? What will they do with what they find? And, perhaps most importantly, how will I feel after all this? That “all this” has me reflecting on the heart, both as a vital organ and as a symbol … a symbol of love, hope, faith, courage and tenderness.
Did you know the heart does not actually beat? It wrings itself out 100,803 times a day. And throughout these nearly 101,000 gyrations, we feel our hearts. We feel the “beats.” And, sometimes, we know when these beats aren’t quite right (as I have for some time). But we also feel the pulsing of love, the ache of sorrow, the pain of loss, the fortitude of strength.
Our hearts can become heavy. They can break. They can expand to encompass the world. It is said that mythical Cupid’s mythical arrow can pierce our very real hearts with romance.
So maybe that’s really where my apprehension figures in. Will I still be able to love, grieve, empathize and sympathize through the thumping thing in my chest? Will a slender cylinder or two of metal sanitize my heart’s capacity to wring itself out of sorrow or beat its way into exhilaration? Will my heart still swell with affection or pound in outrage? Could this once-reliable compass of emotion begin to lead me astray?
Intellectually, of course, I know that the physical status of my heart won’t be a factor in my ability to experience emotion. My heart is simply a muscular organ that pumps blood to my body. Improving its capability and efficiency can only be an advantage.
Which is important, because it seems to me that the world could use a little more heart right now … extra love and empathy as we pull our loved ones close, an outpouring of sympathy and grief for loss, pounding outrage and courageous strength against injustice, and bittersweet musings and memories.
As living, thinking, breathing human beings we all experience emotions. Most of mine emanate from the heart as well as the head. Will I still be able to follow? I’ll let you know how it goes.
Andrea Doray is a writer who now advises everyone not to wait … if you feel as though something is wrong, it probably is. See your doctor. Contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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