Last year, there was quite the little saga about my heart. I’d been having these little heart flutters all my life. Not often. Very rarely, honestly. But they felt like a little bug was flying around, trying to get out of my chest. Not painful, just odd. Then, around this time last year, it got bad. The flutters started to hurt, to last longer, and to be between 20 and 40 per day. My arms and legs started to hurt when I had the flutters. Finally, one day, I collapsed and could not walk from the pain in my legs and (quite honestly) from fear that I was having a heart attack.
Obviously, I went to see a doctor. My GP ran an EKG and found nothing unusual. (Of course, I had not a single flutter the whole time I was there.) So, he got me orders for a chest x-ray and an echocardiogram and an appointment with a cardiologist. Hurrah. Now, I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I have SERIOUS hospital issues. Really, any place where humans are suffering en masse really zig me out. I like places where I have a task to do that helps the suffering, thanks. But a hospital? Where I can’t really help anyone? No, thanks. Nonetheless, to the hospital I went. And discovered that one has to make appointments for this sort of thing. So, I went again. And realized that I needed TWO DIFFERENT appointments. So, I got the chest x-ray (yay taking your shirt off in front of people you don’t know in a room where they’re going to shoot radiation at your already-malfunctioning heart) and made YET ANOTHER appointment. Finally, I came back for the echo. It was gooey and freaky and this guy I didn’t know was about to put a wand up my skimpy hospital gown and this was seriously The Worst Day Ever and then I happened (in my incessant babbling) to mention a book series The Bear had recently convinced me to read. Turns out, the aforementioned guy about to stick a wand up my gown loved that same book series! We bonded instantly. And when he stuck the wand up my shirt to essentially perform an ultrasound on my heart, I got to SEE what my heart looks like! He explained each thing I saw and, not to brag or anything, but I have a pretty awesome heart.
Anyway, long story short(ish), I ended up hooked up to a Holter Monitor for a while, recording each flutter, and the cardiologist ended up calling while I was on Mission Trip to tell me that what essentially is going on in my heart is that, occasionally, the electricity in my heart runs backwards. It isn’t dangerous or anything, just uncomfortable. Anyway, the flutters still happen. I’m down to two or three a day, when I’m not stressed. When I’m stressed, they’re more frequent and more painful.
What’s cool about all this (because you know I don’t just write to complain, that’s not how I roll) is that when I am stressed my body gives me physical signals I cannot ignore which remind me, through pain and struggle, that I am beautifully, passionately alive and that I WANT to be alive. And that’s worth valuing. As Caproni says in The Wind Rises, “I choose to live in a world with pyramids.” I choose the painful, beautiful, living world.