Friday, May 6, 2011

"The heart is a lonely hunter"

That's a Carson McCullers book title. She wrote it in North Carolina in the late 1930's and it was published to great acclaim in 1940.
I like the phrase because of its essential adolescent melodrama, among other things. The misunderstood loner, aloof, watching, with a deeply hidden heart that yearns for connection. The heart as a leader in the body's reaction to love, loss, elation, satisfaction, stress...Unfortuately it is just the title of another damned depressing Carson McCullers story. She either needed to drink more and play more or just write less. Gah!
My heart has been acting peculiarly for a little while. I think that's what it is, and the doctor seems to think that is what it is. I'll have a test Monday to start sorting it out.
For the past year or so, without warning, I get a heavy and painful feeling in the middle of my chest that sometimes radiates right up into my jaw. This is such a painful thing that while it lasts all I can think about is pressing my fist against my chest to try, somehow, to get the pain to move to the outside. I've never made notes about it or talked to the doctor about it because I have always been afraid it was some psychosomatic mystery pain or yet another example of my neurological misfires. I spent a few hours connected to electrodes when I was in my late teens because I had started smelling things that weren't there, feeling an odd heaviness in my head and other things that I didn't take drugs to cause. The tests came up empty.

Wednesday night I had a long and painful session with the fat hatchet in my chest and a jaw that felt like it had hit a wall. It finally eased off and I slept but in the morning I woke up to something new - the pains were still present but at a much lower level.
Mystery chest pain usually completely disappears after it has inflicted its torture.
With the pain still playing a frightening back-beat behind my sternum I decided it was time to chat about the feeling to see if I needed to see a doctor.
Mother and husband both voted for a doctor visit so I called my GP to see about being worked in. The receptionist spoke to the nurse who suggested that I go to the Emergency Room.
Really? REALLY? The EMERGENCY ROOM, where I could grow old before being seen? Fuck that!
I controlled myself nicely, however, and said "Well, suppose I don't go to the emergency room. When can I be seen?"
Then I called a walk in to see what the wait was and went to see them. EKG was fine but the PA was concerned about the situation and I now have an apointment Monday for a stress test and echocardiogram. I also have an appointment with my GP that day at 2 which I am not sure I am going to make.
I think it is just my body's reaction to stress. Last year I had a stabbing pain every 8 minutes in the back of my head for 2 days solid. It was stress. I have broken a tooth from grinding. Stress (I got it fixed!). My shoulders are so tense that I have to conciously remind myself to relax them. So having subverted my body's attempts to express stress in other ways I am being attacked by my own heart.
Dammit, man!


  1. Good grief, chest pains are scary. I hope everything turns out okay with the stress test and echocardiogram.

    You might want to consider trying something to combat the stress... yoga, meditation, vodka, whatever. :)

  2. Wow, I hope everything is ok. Stress can do a lot of strange things to your body. I hope that's all it is.


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