on April 8th, i visited the University of Southern California–
home of Dr. G, whom i’d previously had on the brain–
and now Dr. Y, a man after my own heart.
a veritable veteran of the prestigious medical center’s war on serious ailments, i parked in the familiar garage, went straight into the correct building without a map, and seriously wondered if i’d be seeing the girl who wears the cool dresses at the front desk of the hospital. as it turned out, i would. but first–
dr. Y gave me the low-down: i could take two tests that afternoon, which would give me a very accurate idea of whether i faced surgical cardiac danger from a defect. however, if i wanted even more accurate results, i’d have to wait ’til at least next Thursday. this was a big consideration, of course, since waiting would mean rescheduling my brain surgery a second time.
while i pondered notions of risk and caution, i took a stress test. i was extremely thankful i’d worn shorts despite the cold weather–the techs put me on a treadmill and ran me ’til i was ragged. running sweaty with jeans on is no good. fortunately, my liberated legs took me across 14 minutes’ worth of rubber conveyor belt, which was apparently a better-than-average score. next, it was off to my echocardiogram, which was an ultra sound of my heart.
for about 40 minutes, i lay on an examination table and watched my heart beating. it was completely fascinating. i watched the muscles work, the valves open…i saw what my heart was doing just for ME. and i felt guilty. i’d never realized fully how good my heart was to me. watching it on the monitor, i became very aware that it is my best friend, always on top of the situation, always there for me, never letting me down. the tech explained to me the heart’s systems and backup systems, and i was amazed at the miracle of life and the drive to sustain it. all this time, my heart had been aware, believing in me, believing in my ability to make each beat worth working for. had i been a good friend in return? had i been appreciative? had i been a good steward of the gifts i’d been given, each pulse a present from the tireless guardian angel in my chest? what about us all? how many moments have we lived to their fullest? how many beats have we allowed to be in vain? for seconds? for weeks? for years? how many hours do we waste, watching TV when we hate what is on, working jobs which we hate going to, giving our best to people who don’t deserve even our least? we are a collective race of squanderers. an unthrifty bunch of squatters on land owned by God, living on borrowed time, and yet inattentive to the gift, absentminded of the beauty of a loan which will never have to be paid back. we cast our pearls before swine; we misuse what we have never had to earn, and could never anyway. we bind ourselves in the mire of ineptitude to govern our destinies, only through the gross misuse of resources, and the replacement of the possible with our defeat by the easy road, the path to idleness, the unpurposeful purpose, the lifeless life. empty relationships; abandoned dreams; feelings on helplessness; perceiving our existence as a fated prison, even as our ribs are caging the very source of our freedom. our blood is pumping for a reason. every day above ground is a good day, and every minute on this earth is an opportunity. my heart, beating there in front of me, brought into focus more than ever the precious nature of each moment. i will never forget that.
after my echocardiogram, i went home to wait for the results of my tests. in the meantime, over the weekend, i had to weigh the pros and cons of rescheduling my surgery.
the doctor would call me on Monday, and give me his evaluation as well has his recommendation of what to do next. Saturday and Sunday would be a garbled mess of considerations; i had a lot to think about.