You know when you take your car to the garage because it’s been making a strange clunking noise? You pull into the bay and the mechanic takes a listen and detects nothing wrong. The engine’s purring like a kitten. So you both hop in and take the vehicle for a quick spin to see if any symptoms appear. Your car sounds brand new and may be running better than it ever has before.
My heart’s been making a clunking noise for a while now. More accurately, it’s been making a clunking feeling, stuttering and beating too hard, too fast and too deep down. I took it into the doctor’s office. She strapped on the old blood pressure cuff and my circulatory system was purring like a kitten.
I told my doctor about my engine trouble, trouble that’s likely inherited, and she prescribed 48 hours of wearing a Holter monitor. The timing was perfect! My visit to the doc occurred right at the close of summer vacation, a relaxing time during which my heart and mind feel far fewer demands than during the school year. About two weeks later, I was in full gear and standing in front of my class, a tangle of wires running beneath my shirt and next to my skin. The pressure to perform was on!
After work during both the days I wore the monitor, the lawn needed mowing. Now, I love the reel lawn mower, the soft, steady click of its rotating blades neatly snipping the grass. I like it so much better than the unavoidably disruptive roar of a gas engine. While I enjoy using the reel lawn mower, my heart hates it. Consistently, my heart bitterly complains about pushing that contraption around the yard. It pounds, stutters and flutters. So during the two days I spent with the Holter monitor, I mowed the back lawn one evening and the front lawn the next.
I was happy to have the opportunity to wear the Holter monitor and to find out some information about what – if anything – is happening with my heart. After 48 hours were up and after the work day was done, at home I detached the 5 round stickers and their wires, popped the monitor and the paperwork I’d filled out, into the large Ziploc bag to be returned to the hospital. I began to worry right away. What if they don’t find anything? “Good afternoon, Ms. Knutson. We’re just calling to confirm that you have a writer’s imagination and also a very nasty case of hypochondria to go with it. Thank you so much for wasting our valuable time and resources.”
Or worse: “Lori Knutson? Is that you? Oh, thank God you’re still alive! Are you standing? How is that even possible? Sit down immediately and don’t move! The ambulance is on its way…”
I don’t like either of the extreme scenarios that my mind concocted. I would like a more moderate outcome, something middle-of-the-roadish. I guess I’d like to feel both well-informed and justified in being a little concerned. I want to be told that yes, there is a small problem and, great news, it’s easily fixable. I would like to have this situation turn out exactly as I would like it to turn out.
You think that after all these years I would’ve learned that life rarely meets our expectations and that I can’t control most outcomes. With the monitor returned, I’ll have to settle in and wait to find out what happens next. I only hope that if my engine’s making a strange clunking sound that the medical technicians can diagnose it and that they’re able to keep me on the road for a few more years yet.
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