I wrote this a couple of years ago….but today I feel a bit of that ache again….
It begins behind the sternum, just below where the ribs meet. Sometimes it is a dull and growing ache; other times it is more like a sucker punch. The heaviness that can steal the breath spreads to both sides of the chest, filling the cavity with a painful hollowness that exaggerates the intensity of the heart’s pounding. Sometimes there is a burning or tingling, sometimes it is a seemingly unbearable pressure. It moves to the throat and neck, tightening them, as the arms become heavy at the sides. It aches, and something within screams and wails in protest.
Have I just described a heart attack? Well, in a manner, yes. But not an attack IN the heart. It is an attack, an ambush, a starvation OF the heart. One that needs its own type of intervention, much different from a call to 911 or the administering of CPR. This disease is sinister. It may lie dormant. It may come without warning. But in its most deadly form, it is always present, always looming, and any relief from its pain is short lived. In some ways, even a moment of relief is welcomed. But then, when the relief wanes, the returning pain is that much more crushing.
I am not sure how long I have suffered from this disease. Like many, I did not immediately recognize the symptoms. They came on slowly and intermittently and gradually grew in intensity. Then I thought I had encountered a miracle. But it was only a false remission….and then my disease slowly overtook me again. There are treatments. There is even a cure. But they are hard to reach, inconvenient, and require consistent and daily attention. And my doctor has lost the prescription pad…..or perhaps it is just hidden inside his desk. I am afraid to ask.
So I feel the ache, struggle to breathe, and die a thousand little deaths. I know the life span of those who continue in this sickness of the heart. Without treatment, the prognosis is negative. So I will endure the disease a little longer. And then I will write the prescription myself.