Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog-cardiogram 15

This morning was another one of those foggy, dream-like misty mornings.  Cool thing was, the waning cold full moon was still up high enough to see it.
I headed off on my run, my breath coming out in clouds in front of me, swirling in with the fog.
Brought my phone with me on my run so I'd have a camera to try and capture just how ethereal this morning was.
This was the view as I turn West onto the Highline Canal trail.  See the moon peeking through the trees?  Beautiful.
This week at work I have been learning as much as I can about pulmonary arterial hypertension.  So I've been reading articles, patient brochures about right heart catheterization, reading info online, getting training on the registry I'll be working with, and interestingly - following the study physician and nurses around the PH clinic in the Hospital.
One of the most memorable things so far was looking at echocardiograms.  These are done with a sort of ultra-sound machine, capturing images of the heart from different angles.
On the computer, it's just like a black and white movie of the heart, with the EKG components running along below, like a sub-title to your innermost film.  Heart valves fluttering like delicate petals.  Beating, pulsing, so fragile and yet so strong.  Angles showing me the atria and ventricles. 
The crescent moon-shaped right ventricle, working so hard in these patients to just pump blood into their lungs from their usually dilated right atrium and regurgitating tricuspid valve, through their enlarged pulmonary artery.
Cardiac fellows sit in front of these images all day, interpreting results, logging Q-axis and abnormal heart rhythms, and so much more.  To them, it's narrating the patients health and heart function, cardiac output, degree of prolapse and/or regurgitation, etc.  Analyzing the electrical firings of the right and left nerve bundles, triggering the exact right contractions to make it all work.  Strange currencies.
To me, it was beautiful.  When do you ever get to see your beating heart?  The organ that most represents emotions and love.  Throbbing ventricles, flittering little valves, keeping you alive, feeding your body it's oxygen.
I wanted to ask the fellows if they see these images in their dreams, but it seemed like that would be lost on them and would just seem like a weird question from "new girl".  It's their job.  It's their data, their science.  It's that to me too, but so much more.
Beating out life's rhythm, pounding in my chest to keep my body moving down the trail, hurting with life's heartaches, filling with love and gratitude, swelling with pride and affection, becoming a tangible representation of everything *meaningful* and *felt* in life.
I want my own echo.  I want to see my heart in my chest, make it real.  See my own strange currencies.  See that despite the aches, it's just a beautiful, crescent moon-shaped four-chambered machine, capable of so much more.  Capable of anything.  I want to feel it now.


  1. This is just such a wonderful post. This should be published.

  2. i've seen echocardiograms. they are beautiful. i agree with okatb-this should reach a wider audience. such a masterful job.

  3. Maybe I can submit an editorial to The Journal of Pulmonary Hypertension...
    Thank you for your kind comments!