Friday, June 13, 2014

Bleeders and Bruisers


Your heart has been so heavy for months, you finally go to have it removed.  Doctors have warned you about this for years, but you’ve paid little attention.  Your platelets have always been low—that’s on record too—so you’re a bleeder and a bruiser.  But of late your heart has been unnaturally heavy, as if there could never be a bright day again, so you just go in to have it taken out.

Your doctor has been expecting you for weeks.  You’ve been in for smaller procedures: blood work, counseling.  You love your doctor because she’s young, she always wrinkles her forehead, and she gave you her cell phone number just in case your heart ever dropped out of sight.  As in the case of an emergency.

She comes into the exam room twenty minutes late, her forehead wrinkled.  You don’t mind.  It has given you twenty more minutes to pet your heart, which is beating next to you in a wagon.  Something like an umbilical cord attaches you to it, probably a fibrous piece of fat.

Your doctor sits down with a heavy sigh and asks what has brought you to this, and why without asking her?  Why wait to the last minute?

“I couldn’t live with her anymore,” you say, looking fondly at your huge overgrown heart that you somehow bore into the wagon, you don’t know how.  You don’t know where that tendon or vein or whatever it is that keeps your heart attached to you ends up.  You think it might be something coming out your gall bladder scar, which the other doctors hid in your belly button.  Who can know.  You think it’s important that at least you got here and your heart is still flopping around in the wagon.

“I’d like you to put her to rest,” you say to your doctor, tilting your bad ear towards the wagon.  “I don’t want her to feel pain anymore.”

Your young doctor with her no-makeup face and creased forehead and sturdy shoes rolls over on her stool to your heart.  She stethoscopes one of the chambers.  You wince and she places her stethoscope on the other chamber, which is heartily and merrily beating away, as if it was still inside you.

Your doctor sits back, her white coat covered in blood, her face also smeared.  She takes off her glasses and starts cleaning them with antiseptic cloths.   “You know this is a no-kill shelter,” she says.  “You’re going to have to take her back home.”  She leans forward, her elbows on her knees, her glasses back on her face.  “Is there anything else I can help you with?  I mean, anything?

She looks you in the eyes.  You look down sheepishly at your Partridge Family shirt and your heart splish-splashing around in the wagon, making a mess.  You sigh your sigh and give your apologies and thank-yous.  You mean to come in earlier next time, and you will.

You are still not sure what kind of thread is attaching you to your heart as you pull it out to the car in the wagon.  You didn’t even know you had a wagon in the garage; you were going to do this with the wheelbarrow.  You should have thrown a tarp over your heart in the heat of the day; you can see that she’s already panting.  It only takes the time for your lips to part before your doctor comes flying out of the office carrying an Igloo with ice, her brows furrowed.

“I meant to give you this,” she says, kneeling at your car, then she flies back in.

You become a little parental and wistful, a little destroyed and possessive, there in the parking lot with your heart who refuses to go away.  You wheel her over to the shade and dump whatever’s left in your water bottle on her.  You lean against the wagon.  You look at her.  She is silly and funny and wet. 


You carefully lift your heart into the Igloo, where she splashes happily around.  



1 comment:

  1. Katie, this is powerful. I can actually feel my heart heavy in my own chest. Hearts can heal - even when they are only attached by a thread.

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