Monday, September 17, 2012

More Than Slightly Alive

Two years ago my ankle started hurting. Over a period of months the pain worsened and spread. Before I knew it, my ankles, knees, hips, elbows, wrists, and just about anything and everything hurt. I tried to find a pattern and a reason but couldn't figure it out. Long story short, I've spent the last two years going back and forth to the doctors trying to put a name to what's going on.

A few weeks ago I was at the rheumatologist. I told her I'd been experiencing chest tightness and heart palpitations for a while. She decided that the heart palpitations might be related to my joint pain. So she ordered an echocardiogram (aka heart sonogram) to check out what's going on in there.

So today, I saw my own heart. It looked something like this...

And I discovered I'm not dead. My heart does, in fact, beat — which is good, ya know?

When I checked in at the hospital they gave me a pager — like they give at restaurants — and I sat to wait my turn. They even gave me a bracelet, to make sure everybody knew I was who I said I was.

When the technician came to get me, she checked my bracelet (to make sure I wasn't an imposter, she said) and then brought me back to the room. She had some cool jams playing — a la Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin — and she let me slip into something a little I stripped from the waist up, but didn't bother taking my heels off. I rocked that backless gown.

The technician popped some "stickers" on me to track my heart beat, gelled up the magic lil' wand thing, and got to work checkin' out my heart.

According to good ol' Wikipedia, ultrasounds are a "medical imaging technique used to visualize muscles, tendons, and many internal organs, to capture their size, structure and any pathological lesions with real time tomographic images. Ultrasound has been used by radiologists and sonographers to image the human body."

For about a half hour, the technician measured my blood flow, thickness of my muscle tissue, blood flow direction, etc. I was pretty impressed to see how many things the ultrasound could check — and could do so without any surgery or anything.

My technician was incredibly nice. She answered all of my questions — "What are you doing now? What's that? What are you measuring? Oh! Why are there different colors?" — but mostly we just chatted about life.

I asked her if she can easily tell the difference between a healthy heart and an unhealthy heart. Thankfully, she told me, "There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive." Except she didn't say that. Not at all. I just love Princess Bride. What she really said is, if there was something really wrong, she wouldn't let me leave the hospital.

And I got to leave. Which means I was more than slightly alive.

Thank you, heart.


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