25 April 2014

Inking the Heart

Recently, my heart began to speak loudly to me.  

I thought it might be attempting to shed its fetters, spread its wings.  

Doctors thought it might be acting up and certainly needing investigation.   

Last autumn I consequently underwent a perfusion test, which consisted in putting my heart under drug-induced stress.  The results indicated possible problems in two areas.

No, I was told by my amiable consultant as I sat in his room in early January, there was nothing I could personally do for my heart other than take the prescribed statins, the beta-blockers, the daily aspirin, and fix an appointment for an angiogram.  But in the weeks before the planned procedure - when a catheter would be inserted through the femoral artery then fed up to the heart, allowing the release of dye to show any narrowings or blockages - I felt I owed this vital organ the courtesy of paying it closer attention, and gleaning what metaphors it might conceal.

And so I tuned into my heart’s rhythm.  I posed questions of it, and hushed my chatter in order to listen for answers.   

I went to the Alpujarras mountains in Spain for a week in February to drink in pure light and spring air.

I visited a skilled and gentle healer in whose presence my heart quietened.  

I reflected on what might represent the opposite of fear, and then endeavoured to dream this antidote into all of my cells.

I wrote songs that had been brewing for years.

I sketched pictures of hearts in healing shades of blue.   

I scribbled words in notebooks.   I considered how any heart bunged with memory and emotion might come to sag, misshapen as a Christmas stocking.  

I acknowledged how the twin agents of sorrow and guilt could not so much whistle through a heart as leave gluey thumbprints all over chambers no longer  pristine and correct, where the  femme de ménage in this case, me – may not have exercised her duty to the full. 

And finally, mentally prepared for the possibility of the insertion of a cardiac stent, I showed up a couple of weeks ago at my local hospital to submit to the medically advanced probing and inking of my heart.  

On the huge screen beside me, the lightning strikes of my coronary arteries revealed themselves -  jagged, beautiful, breathtakingly visible.  'They all look fine,' said my consultant.  

So, am I out of the woods?  We are none of us ever out of the woods.  Am I fit?  My programme of fitness commences.  Is my heart all right?  I hope so – now that I have heard it, paid it homage, dipped buckets in its well, and seen the breathing imprint of its internal rivers.

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