Monday, October 29, 2012

"Turn on... your heart light...."

On Friday I did my second treadmill test, this time after being injected with a radioactive isotope.  Once the tech put me in the machine that would take the pictures of my heart (after I walked uphill for ten minutes on the treadmill), he adjusted a monitor over my head so that I could see a scan of my body.  The image was an amazing, shadowy form made up of bright dots… which made me feel as if my body were a constellation of stars.  “We are stardust, we are golden….”
I went back this morning to be injected again for more pictures of my heart, this time without the treadmill part. I had to lie as still as possible for 17 minutes, but the tech put on some Norah Jones, so all I had to do was relax and enjoy the music.  Afterward I was congratulated for doing a “good job” of not moving and told the results of the test would be ready in “three to five days.”  Sigh.  The results are there, ready to be interpreted by a cardiologist, but that’s why I have to wait—until some doctor has the time to pick up the chart of a stranger and come to a conclusion about her health based on some pretty pictures.
For all of my adult life, I have been fascinated by medical technology; I can only appreciate it all the more now that it’s being applied to me.  At every doctor’s appointment I’ve had in the past two months, I’ve been complimented on my great blood pressure.  I will say again—Is anyone listening?—that I have not felt stressed through all of this.  I know that eventually the docs will find the problem and fix it.  If this were happening to one of my kids, that would be stressful.  But as it is, my biggest challenge currently is this prolonged inactivity.  I long to walk out the door and up to the waterfall, but caution dictates that I wait until some answers emerge from the test results.
So here I am, filling my time with a lot of reading, very little writing and watching far too much television (which for me generally means the news, although I did catch Pride and Prejudice last night on one of the chick channels, watching it for the tenth time or so).  For those of you who have been sending prayers/energy/good thoughts: Thank you.  I can feel it.  Please don’t stop.  I’m convinced that’s why I’ve been able to be so calm through all of this; I definitely know that I’m loved.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Frontal lobe as treasure chest

At the end of the day, the ER doc told me, “You do not look like a sick person.”  And if I had a dollar for every person who has told me either “It’s probably nothing serious” or “It’s probably just stress,” I’d be able to pay myself back for all the co-pays I’ve incurred in recent weeks.
The truth is, there’s something wrong with my heart.  I tried to tell one of the techs who was administering yet another diagnostic test (on the kind of machine seen in episodes of House) that my heart was broken long ago and never quite got itself fixed correctly, but he just looked at me with a patronizing smile and patted the table in a slide-on-over manner.
At this point, no one seems to be clear on what’s wrong with my heart (apart from the accumulated pain of every loss in my life, starting with my dad in 1963).  However, I did receive some welcome validation on Friday; the treadmill test I took a week before had “a positive result.”  Which means now I get to take another one—this time with radiation.  Um… yay.
A few people have said, “This must be so stressful” (and oh, by the way, I also have a buyer for my cabin and I need to pack up and be off the mountain in 30 days and oh, yeah, that includes finding another place to live), but it really isn’t.  That my little, problematic body is undergoing another breakdown of some kind doesn’t really worry me; we’ll figure it out and fix it.  I’m going with the ER doc’s evaluation.
But it has preoccupied my mind lately.  (‘Could it be this? What about that? Will I need surgery? How will I manage that?’)  Then my dear friend Ginger (who is my favorite medium; yes, she communicates with dead people) reminded me that I am “surrounded by some powerful forces,” and that it’s okay to let them take the reins for a while.  Thinking about this on the drive down to work one morning, I let go of all the what-ifs, took some deep breaths, and focused on the moment, the beauty of the morning, the fresh air of the mountain, and all the good stuff in my life.  And in the next moment, a song stepped out from the recesses of my brain, one I hadn’t thought of in many years.  I started to sing it… and found that I remembered every word of it.
Our memories are stored in our frontal lobe, scientists tell us, along with abilities in speech and language.  When we become… preoccupied… with other things—worry, anxiety, sadness—our brains switch over to fight or flight preparation and our frontal lobe hangs out a “Closed due to family emergency” sign.  But we can switch things around, if we so choose, opting for calm and serenity in the face of adversity.  And when we do, our senses are heightened, our memories return.  And singing, I will always advocate, heals a thousand wounds.  I’m not saying it’s going to heal my heart.  But the melodies of life will definitely keep me grounded as I stroll through this little valley.