My heart is well. I don’t mean in a metaphorical way. I mean it’s fit for purpose, healthy. There was a chance it wouldn’t be when I went for my third echocardiogram today. The appointment was one of the first this morning and my lovely friend Kata came with me, primarily to inject another a added human presence to the experience. So far my interactions with sonographers has been a mixed bag. I’ve had an even split of two bad encounters and two good with this particular flavour of healthcare professional. One ran out of the room to get a nurse when I started crying inconveniently and another barely said two words to me. So there was a good to fair chance today’s person was going to be an issue and I’ve found that having a second warm body in the room can draw out some deeply buried compassion. It boded very well when the technician bounded out with a huge smile on his face, looked me square in the eyes and held out his hand for a reassuring handshake.
Thank goodness he turned out to possess some social skills because it’s an intimate experience that in the hands of an incompetent soul can become awkward and violatey feeling. Keeping me chatting about inanities, he threw into the conversation that it was time to get my kit off. I stripped to the waist and this time was given a gown that brought a tiny feeling of still being dressed and in control. I lay down on the reclined chair/bed and he placed three sensors on my chest area attached by wires to the equipment. Then he lathered some gel on and used an ultrasound (similar to those used to see babies in the womb) and pressed REALLY hard to get images of my heart. If you can picture it, I am on my left side with my arm behind my head like I’m in a buxom cyborg in a Renaissance painting. The technician is pressed up against me with his arm over my chest pushing the ultrasound wand hard underneath my left boob. Did I mention it’s intimate? You can see why it’s so important that the person doing this is making you feel very much at ease. Not just to get good readings (if I’m stressed, my heart will be too) but also out of simple human decency. This is the kind of image he got.
My heart looks like a pear. I saw it beat on the screen, expanding and lumpy. The technician said the different parts of my heart were beating in unison. That’s good. I took my prize of a good experience with him and a functioning organ and left happy and relieved.
The reason for all this is that the drug I’m taking every three weeks for another year, Herceptin, can be a bit silly. It targets the cancer cells much better than chemo does but it does make mistakes sometimes and can beat the crap out of healthy cells, namely the ones in my heart. So while it’s doing a good job of killing the evil lump, it could also give me congestive heart failure. Hence the regular trips to the cardiography department.
Before we went to the appointment I had a moment. I was brushing my teeth and as I leaned over the sink to spit and the thought of surgery next week flitted across my mind. In the seconds it took to raise my head and look into the mirror, a surge of excitement passed through me. Much like Buffy in episode Weight of the World when she’s catatonic and Willow goes into her mind to bring her out. She is stuck because there’s this tiny moment where she thinks if Dawn dies, then she’d be relieved. She feels horribly guilty for it. This moment.
Anyway it was just like that moment but without the sister dying bit and you know, completely the opposite feelings. But just the same otherwise. I felt a fleeting thrill. It was the first time I had felt anything other than going through the motions practicality or sheer terror about the upcoming operation. I’d like to say I have more words to describe or talk about it. But it was just a simple, all encompassing wave of total anticipation. And it felt good. So I guess my heart is well. Metaphorically speaking too.