Be glad of today because tomorrow is a work of fiction

Human Heart(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Human Heart
(Image credit: Wikimedia)

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

My heart was examined once again today using ultrasound to create an echocardiogram.  This is standard practice because the anthracycline based chemotherapy I’ve endured and the Herceptin I’m continuing to receive are both known to cause damage to the heart.  I’ll find out next week if my 10 oz bundle of muscle is as healthy as it was three months ago. I certainly hope so and in three months time – all things being equal – it’ll be checked again.

The heart is an amazing piece of equipment. It beats around 100,000 times in a day, circulates blood through some 60,000 miles of blood vessels and if looked after can last a lifetime without needing too much maintenance. It’s also thought the heart can contain ‘cellular memories’ – recollections of the events we experience, preferences and attitudes we hold.  Although the idea of cellular memory is fiercely contested there are some astonishing and as yet unexplained examples, including the 8-year-old girl who provided information that led to the apprehension of her heart-donors murderer.

Irrespective of whether we believe cellular memory or not, if we start out from the premise that every day is the best day of the year I suspect it might help us be happier about what we have instead of feeling miserable about the things we don’t have.

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die.  Or when.  You can only decide how you’re going to live.  Now.  ~ Joan Baez

If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.  ~Larry McMurtry, Some Can Whistle.

We die daily.  Happy those who daily come to life as well.  ~George MacDonald

Why be saddled with this thing called life expectancy?  Of what relevance to an individual is such a statistic?  Am I to concern myself with an allotment of days I never had and was never promised?  Must I check off each day of my life as if I am subtracting from this imaginary hoard?  No, on the contrary, I will add each day of my life to my treasure of days lived.  And with each day, my treasure will grow, not diminish.  ~Robert Brault

Tomorrow is a work of fiction, every day some of us discover tomorrow never comes.  So live today, all day and write on your heart that its the best day of the year 🙂

Echo, no bunnymen

  I was up at 6am today, there were no bunnymen. There were no rabbits of any kind or if there were I couldn’t see them because it was too foggy.

I did have an echo though.

I’ve never had one of these before but predictably it involves more adventures in the stripping one’s clothes off for complete strangers category.  I’m sure there’s a name for this kind of thing and it’s possibly deemed deviant behaviour when money changes hands. Fortunately my state of undress was purely for medical purposes however it dawned on me today that my bare carcass has been viewed by more strangers in the last 6 months than people who are supposed/allowed to see it in my entire lifetime.  There’s probably a name for that too.

So the echo. It was nothing like yodeling in the Swiss Alps but it was extremely fascinating.  With a small ultrasound wand it’s possible to look inside the heart. The ventricles and valves are all clearly visible and I found the level of detail quite astonishing.  Even more amazing is the way the sonographer can use different imaging and measurement techniques to assess the blood flow and check the ejection fraction all in a painless and non-invasive manner. (Anything that doesn’t involve the use of needles is a good thing in my book).

Echocardiogram images – clever stuff.

Ejection fraction is the volume of blood pumped by the heart and today they were checking my left ejection fraction to ensure it’s sufficient to start herceptin in a few weeks.  I now have a dedicated sonographer who will check up on me every 12 weeks. It’s good to know that in spite of NHS funding issues, critical care such as cardiac monitoring is still being given the focus it deserves – for my sake and everyone elses.  My local NHS Trust needs a £9m loan this year and the powers that be are dragging their heals over it.  The Trust has to save £50m by 2015 and blames this issue on the rising cost of drugs and people living longer… perhaps we should reintroduce workhouses in an attempt to stop this awful scourge of people living longer??   Forgive me if I am confused but I thought the whole point of better medicine was to enable more of us to live longer, healthier lives.

I won’t know the results of the echocardiogram until I meet the oncologist again next week. I was pleased to see a fairly regular looking heart on-screen, the valves are where they should be and seemed to open and close properly. From my novice point of view everything looked as it ought to and a reasonable amount of blood seemed to be flowing in and out. Except when the sonographer told me to breathe out and hold for what seemed like an age….  blue is not a good look for me 😉