January 24th, 2020
As a woman living with heart disease, I approach February with mixed emotions. Like so many others, I don a red sweater on the first Friday of the month and send valentines to friends and family. I eat a little too much chocolate and swear I’ll make up for it at the gym.
But it’s the phrases I can’t escape — “I love you with all my heart” “I don’t think your heart’s into it” “What’s your heart tell you to do?” — that give me pause throughout the year.
Having heart disease is not like having any other disease. It’s no less worrisome or bothersome, no less complicated or intrusive, no more manageable or familiar. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not comparing it to any other health condition,
I’m just saying it’s different because it carries an emotional punch linked to love, comfort and one’s ability to instinctively know what to do unlike any other organ in the body. “Follow your heart” is helpful guidance when you want to find True North. Your “heart’s desire” is believed to be pure, unquestionable passion. Memories are held “close to the heart” and troubles are considered to be “breaking my heart.”
I know I have a strong back and big shoulders, all metaphors for a fighting spirit and winsome way. But it’s my heart that gets the most attention, in the ER, the doctor’s office, on candy wrappers, and pink cards. Some of us know what it means to “listen to your heart” in a way that goes beyond the romantic dinner. For us, it’s day-to-day, living the best we can with what our doctors say will help us and hoping that, with each beat, we are given new life.