I’ve found myself getting lost in my thoughts more and more lately.
Two days ago, my husband looked at me, concerned, “Are you okay?”
He literally thinks my hearing is going bad, and there’s a deep place in me that thinks maybe he’s right.
I shrug it off. “Lost in my thoughts, more like it,” I say to him.
Later that night, I ask my children to repeat themselves at least three times – ignoring the sideways smirks from my husband, as if he’s saying I told you so.
Yesterday, a radiologist shot iodine into my veins and placed my body in a giant magnetic tube.
“Breathe!” the computerized voice shouted at me.
“Hold your breath!” it demanded.
For the last two years, doctors have been looking closely at my heart. What was first thought to be a murmur has now been diagnosed as a bruit.
Stress tests, EKGs, ultrasounds – nothing can explain why my heart sounds like a horse is trapped inside my chest, so my cardiologist wants me to do this one last test – just to confirm that abnormal is really normal for me after all.
When my murmur was first detected, I spent the first month convinced that I was dying. My GP suggested that maybe it was all in my head, that nothing was wrong, that maybe I just needed anxiety meds.
“My friend died last year of a heart attack,” I told her. “She was 42 years old and an avid runner. This isn’t anxiety.”
A few months later, a client of mine told me how women past a certain age often get diagnosed with anxiety and depression when doctors can’t source the true cause of their medical problem.
I make a mental note: Women of a certain age? Time to get a new doctor??
The thing about an abnormal heart is that you can’t see it from the outside. You can’t stand next to someone and hear it beating off rhythm. It takes a stethoscope and a quiet room, someone trained to know what a healthy heart should sound like.
“We’re all decaying,” I say to my husband on the way home from the hospital. “Decaying and living all at once – from the moment we’re conceived, we’re also simultaneously dying. How strange is that?”
He doesn’t say much back to me. Maybe I’ve gone too deep, too dark. Maybe my doctor was right and my anxiety is out of control.
We both look ahead, his hands on the wheel as we drive down the interstate. I think about my kids getting older, Ukraine, Covid, taxes.
Nothing feels like it’s in its proper place, so I grab on to his hand and bury my head into the warmth of his arm. His heartbeat echoes throughout his body. I don’t need a stethoscope or super human hearing to hear it after all. I just need to open up my arms and lean in.