April 20, 2021

My mind has been stuck on dying lately, so I wasn’t quite prepared to see and hear my heart today during  an echo cardiogram.

Upon seeing my heart  beating away, my first response was  that there it was, the thing that is keeping me alive when the rest of me is preparing to die.   And, while I was  prepared to be rather angry with it, I became caught up in the steady rhythm of the beat, beat, beat, and the  changing pictures of it on the screen of the machine in front of me.

It was brown that changed to black and back to brown.  A streak of blue and red showed up from nowhere, disappeared, and re-appeared.  And a push of a button immediately livened it into a thump-thump sound.  It was communicating (of course mainly to the technician who understood its language, but I was hearing it clearly) and it was very alive.   I felt more curious than angry that it was the reason I was still alive.

Although I had had an electrocardiogram after my heart attack in 2016, I had no memory of actually watching it on the screen as it “talked” to anyone who could understand it.

I became more curious with what it was “saying,” but I knew I’d have to wait for my doctor’s translation.  So, for now, I just did my best to connect to this usually hidden part of my body that had been with me since I was born now coming up on 78 years ago.

Did I want it to be saying that it was doing well and would keep ticking on?  Or did I want it to be saying that it was getting as tired as I was and was getting ready to stop for good?

I asked the technician why she had chosen this type of job.  She said she was one of 10 children who had all chosen professions in the health field.  But she hadn’t wanted to be a doctor.  Both of her parents had died young.  She spent her mornings listening to the hearts of grown-ups, and her afternoons listening to the hearts of babies.

She made me realize once again how much of the world I didn’t understand.  So, I don’t know yet what my heart said to her.   But I was grateful that she had understood the language of my heart.  I would have to wait longer to hear an English translation.

But, remaining the naturalist I had chosen to be long ago, I was glad my heart had survived so far on its own power.


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