Extract from Thoughts on a Pocket Watch
Upon corner shelf, dear Pocket Watch,
Your heart races much faster than mine.
And, yet, the gears both sound the same;
Two watches with finite time.
The tumbling and clicking of your cogs
Scarcely causes me fits of strife.
For whenever we finally sound our last ticks,
Our resonance will still echo in life.
It’s been 20 months since I’ve been to this place, this repository of thoughts and feelings and experiences and reflections on my life and my heart.
Twenty months since, for the third time, I was cut open, massacred, reshaped, and sent back out into the world to recover and to attempt to live on.
And here I am. Still.
Last time I checked in, it was October of 2012.
So, first, the medical end of things.
In two visits with the good folks at the QE2 Health Sciences Centre in Halifax since then, my internal clockworkery has proven to be ticking on strong. I’ve been fortunate to have twice drawn Dr. Finley, a remnant from my childhood days at the IWK Children’s Hospital, as the consulting cardiologist on call in the cardiac investigations unit.
Dr. Finley is a shining example of what good doctors should be like. Genuine. Detailed. Patient. Willing to answer questions. Willing to volunteer information. And, after all these years, he still asks how my parents are doing.
Whenever we cross paths, he always enters the room, smile on his face, hand outstretched and, with a wink, says that he saw my file in the pile and made sure that he “was the one who got to see me.”
My most recent visit was on April 30. It was standard followup: an echo, an EKG, a visit with the clinical nurse, and then brief summary chat with Dr. Finley.
The clinical nurse, Joanne, has been following me around for quite some time too – since prior to my 2002 surgery, actually. She gets to ask the fun questions about smoking and drinking and drug use and exercise (in order: no, socially, no, and as much as I can squeeze in).
The end result from April 30 was that everything looks great.
Not quite two-and-a-half years after the installation of my artificial valve and the new section of Dacron in my aorta, there is no sign of leakage or imminent danger. We will, of course, be keeping an eye on the aorta. The pressure issues that caused the walls of my aortic root to balloon to nearly six centimetres could return. This time the impact would be felt near my aortic arch, with its three sub-arteries, causing a whole other set of problems.
But the artificial valve holds with it the possibility that the pressure issues could be minimized. It is, after all, designed to mimic a “normal” valve, and a normal valve wouldn’t cause such an aneurysm.
And, so, knowing that I’m feeling good – that there have been no severe dizzy spells, no intense pains, no unexpected issues – and knowing that my little titanium valve is ticking away as it should, Dr. Finley advised me that I wouldn’t have to be seen for another 18 months.
“Keep doing what you’re doing — keep being physically active,” he said. “You play hockey and softball — keep doing it. Listen to your body, but the more you do, the stronger your heart will be.”
Trust me, Doc — you don’t have to tell me twice.
And as far as listening to my body, well, with a pocket watch in my chest, I really don’t have much choice, do I?
It’s always there.
And I always listen.