A Thank You Note to My Heart

by Jenny Hansen

Heart Health

Yesterday, I saw my heart in action. My beautiful, heroic, gorgeously fluttering mitral valve. And that pulmonary valve of perfection in the chamber next door.

Now before you wonder if I’ve gone wiggy in the head from the cooties in my house, I went to the cardiologist yesterday and they fit me into the schedule for the ultrasound/stress test deal where you get to see your heart from every angle.

I tell you, science kicks some major ass, to be able to do all that in under 30 minutes.

But to really understand why this was so exciting for me, you should know that in 2005 my handy heart valves protected my brain from about 50 blood clots.

Yep, you heard me. FIFTY. Ish.

Here’s the quickie version:

  • In 2005, I developed blood clots in both legs, one of which shattered, sending a shower of blood clots to my lungs (thanks to those vivacious valves).
  • No one tells you this, but blood clots freaking hurt. They’re unnatural little buggers that hang out in unusual places and behave in bizarre ways. However, the doctors promise you the pain will go away in 6-8 weeks.
  • The pain in my lungs didn’t go away, so at about 11 weeks I went to a pulmonologist to find out “WTH!”

Enter Dr. Ramisetti, a fabulous doctor with a soft voice and a fantasic Indian accent. [My internal dialogue is in pink.]

Dr. R: The two CAT scans of your lungs are very, very dramatic.

Me: [WTF?! Dramatic can NOT be good.] Um, dramatic how, exactly?

Dr. R: The first one was dramatic for how many, many blood clots you had. The second one was dramatic for how quickly they decreased.

Me: [Huh.] How many blood clots are we talking about here?

Dr. R: Oh, many many.

Me: [Holy Mother of God. I thought there were like two.] So, like 10?

Dr. R: Oh, many, many more.

Me: *My guy and I are making shocky faces at each other* A hundred??

Dr. R: Maybe less.

So the Hubs-to-be and I are reeling because we had no idea. Nobody tells you these things at the time, and in hindsight I think it’s better that way. I was scared enough without having that “maybe less than a hundred freaking blood clots” music in my head.

I settled on 50  as the magic total whenever I talk about it. “Fifty” is a nice round number and frankly, going any higher makes my stomach feel squinchy. Click this link for the basic story, in case you’re unfamiliar with surprise blood clots.

Anywho, yesterday was the first time I’d ever seen my heart work in all it’s red pumpy glory. Really, I was wildly impressed. That’s one heck of an impressive muscle, especially that four-piece band called the mitral valve.

Mitral Valve

Artificial mitral valve makes location easy to see.

I asked the technician which part kept the clots out of my heart and brain and she said, “mitral.” Hence this ode.

I’d never grasped the nitty-gritty details of the heart before.  For instance, I didn’t know the mitral valve was on the bottom, or that it is the gatekeeper that kept my heart (and brain) safe when the too-many-to-count shower of death clots came barreling through. Or that the pulmonary valve whisked all those suckers straight out of there and into my lungs.

Trust me, y’all, if you’ve got to have the clots, down in the legs or in the lungs is where you want them. Yes, they hurt (for a really, super long time) but I’m ALIVE.

Thank you, my magical mitral…you marvelous, mind-blowing mensch of a valve. And also to you, my passionate pulmonary powerhouse. I owe y’all at least 50 thank you’s.

Which body part do you give the most thanks to, and why? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny

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About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2015 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me.

Mitral valve photo courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch – Flickr – CC License 2.0. Top photo courtesy of Emmanuel Huybrechts – Flickr – CC License 2.0.

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