HEART VOICES

I was going to give you a springtime post of the glorious flowers on display at the recent Mount Holyoke Bulb Show, wonders of nature if there ever were such. But they’ve been preempted by another wonder of nature, not necessarily more beautiful, but perhaps even more awe-inspiring.

Somebody's heart with a ventricular defect: hopefully mine is not like this!

I’ve just returned home from having an echocardiogram. (Necessitated by my recent heart attack.)

And what is that when it’s at home? A cardiac ECHO is a sonogram of the heart, in other words, a mapping of the sights (and sounds) of the structures of the heart. In action. Beating away — And because the skilled (and super-pleasant) technician was left-handed, the computer screen faced me for the half-hour echocardiography session, so that I could watch what was going on while she gave me a guided tour of something known to me all my life and yet completelyΒ terra incognita, my own heart.

She introduced me to the individual chambers of my quadri-partite heart, each with a valve, each valve of which has its own different sound. The characteristic pattern of each marched across the screen while its own characteristic rhythm sounded in my ears. The quiet sounds of the two lesser (right) valves. Β The WOW WOW WOW of the mitral valve. The jazzy sound of the main valve, the aortic, which would have been suitable for a lively percussion piece. I wonder if some composer has already used these rhythms? The technician said that several musicians who’d graced her couch had wondered the same thing.

The tour was colorful as well. Basic echocardiography is in the familiar charcoal gray and white, but from time to time, colorful clouds of blue and orange would hustle on their busy way, looking like nothing so much as radar weather maps. For a good reason, said the tech. They’re both Doppler! Tornadoes, blood flow — Same technology, different application. A science fiction world, come to life.

And I thought something more as I watched the uninterrupted, unceasing rhythm on the screen. This is my heart. It beats 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, never a vacation, never a day or even a minute off, uncomplaining (at least until recently), its steady voice unheard and unheeded by me. And it has done so from before the day of my birth, and will continue until the day of my death.

There’s a thought to make one humble. And flooded with gratitude.

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This entry was posted in Etcetera, Health, Life and Death, Medicine, Personal Essay and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to HEART VOICES

  1. Amy says:

    thank you for such a lovely post

    Like

  2. Claudia Shuster says:

    Judy,
    What a poetic, artistic explanation of your experience and of your (indeed all of our) appreciation for the constant job the heart does for each of us!! I had long forgotten but I had one of those echocardiograms (I knew when you mentioned it that it sounded familiar); but many years ago without the colorful additions (and I could only see it tangentially).
    Hope you have gotten good news from the test results and we look forward to seeing you both soon! – With love, Claudia

    Like

  3. Gilly Gee says:

    What a unique post πŸ™‚

    Like

  4. definitely an awe-inspiring experience. thank you for sharing this with us. we are blessed, every moment, by our heart which we take so much for granted. I’m going to spend time today listening to the beat of mine and being oh so thankful.

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  5. John Weeren says:

    “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Yeah. πŸ˜€

    Like

  6. reb says:

    Congratulations! You turned something like an echo-cardiogram into something beautiful. I’ve had the pleasure myself, I knew the guy who performed it [I worked there], so I had everything I saw and heard very well explained.

    I’m left-handed too πŸ˜‰

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Left-handed always seems so — awkward, difficult, wrong way round — maybe you felt like that growing up a little?
      But in this case — what a boon it was!
      πŸ™‚

      Like

      • reb says:

        …only when I had to write in those spiralled notepads. I turned them upside down, and started from the back. Then, of course, the pens where the ink got all smudged.

        I’m going to get a Holter EKG …the type you wear for 24hrs…

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          I had to do that a number of years ago, it was boring. What the French call ennuyeuse. But I think I forgot about it even during the 24 hours; I certainly have forgotten about it now!

          Be well, Rebekah —

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          • Katty says:

            I had to wear the Holter monitor years ago when I was young. My experience wasn’t nearly as pretty or poetic as yours, but I do remember getting a kick out of pushing the button to record “it’s happening now” when I was talking to my boss. WIshing you all the best on your results!

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Thank you for the good wishes, Katty. Happy Cooking!
            πŸ˜‰

            Like

  7. pauline says:

    J – leave it to you to paint something so technical in technicolor. Hope your wonderful heart keeps beating for years and years! xo

    Like

  8. Gemma says:

    You have a glorious way of looking at things. I hope the beat goes on and on…G

    Like

  9. thirdhandart says:

    A beautiful, thought provoking post. I hope your echocardiogram test results are very positive (good).

    Like

  10. barb19 says:

    What a fascinating and amazing journey you took us on, so beautifully written! The heart is truly intricate and works 24/7, yet we take it’s works so much for granted. I do feel humbled.
    May your heart continue to beat strongly for many years to come.

    Like

  11. I just returned from 4 days in the hospital with a near catastrophic coronary event and then come home to find your post………loved it.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      That certainly is a coincidence — even if it is a less than happy one.
      If you click the link Heart Attack in my post — you see that my own “event” was somewhere back in January. I am now in cardiac rehab three days a week and feeling good; I wish you the same, heart to heart!

      (How providential, you ARE the Tin Man, and sure enough, you’re seeking (a sound) heart!)

      Like

  12. 2e0mca says:

    Excellent post Judith πŸ™‚ The picture reminds me of the scans my wife had when she was expecting our son. I can remember the young lady who was controlling the machine saying… ‘you have to be quick because they swim really fast at that age!’

    My wife has had loads of these because she had glandular fever as a child and she now has two plastic heart valves. She can’t sneak up on me.. I can hear her ticking miles away πŸ˜‰

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Who would have thought replacement heart valves could be funny?
      Remember the crocodile who couldn’t sneak up on Captain Hook in Peter Pan because he’d swallowed the alarm clock? Tick tick tick —-
      πŸ˜€

      Glad your wife is so well now. Plastic gets a bad name sometimes, but it has spectacular, almost miraculous uses.

      Like

  13. Patti Kuche says:

    Judith, this is such a fascinating and touching post. It always amazes me that medical science has been able to produce an “electrical” chart of this tough little muscle and I wish you all best with your test results!

    Like

  14. In a catalog recently, I saw “heart” used as a verb to describe something (i.e. “you will heart this whatchamacallit as soon as you see it.”) Your beautiful, thoughtful post made me think “heart” IS a verb – taking action on our behalf, thankfully and without fail.

    Thank you for this reminder of blessings unseen.

    Like

    • Touch2Touch says:

      “Heart” as a verb started out (I’m pretty sure) as a text equivalent of the literal heart symbol. So now it’s taking on its own life!
      That’s how language evolves, especially the English language.
      But the interpretation you give it is so much more than grammar or usage — you’re broadening the definition in order to help us see more clearly. Brilliant, Jen.

      Like

  15. What a beautiful, fascinating heart you have! Technology is amazing to me. It is hard to keep up with the evolving, and always improving, medical observations we can now all share.

    Like

  16. Stef says:

    What an amazing opportunity, to see the own steady workings of your own heart. That is, when you aren’t seeing the grace it has already spread to some of the world. πŸ™‚

    Like

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