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.
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 completely 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. 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.