On Thursday I am having an echocardiogram, to follow up from the anomalous results from my Holter monitor test. My heart isn't beating normally, which was both a cause for worry but also, oddly, a relief. The symptoms I have are unabated - getting slightly worse, in fact - and I would have been more distressed, I think, to have a nil result from the Holter and still be struggling on feeling like I do but with no path forward.
The echo may show nothing, or something trivial. There is a small possibility that it will show something serious. Given my age, my lack of family history of heart problems, my lifetime non-smoker status, my low-normal blood pressure and my unremarkable bloodwork, the odds of it being anything desperate are low. I know this with my head, and (mostly) with my gut, although I have been doing a fair bit of 3am staring at the ceiling, imagining the worst.
Waiting is hard to do. I always manage to deal with things once I know what's going on; uncertainty, ambiguity and delay are my nemeses, eating at my peace of mind, niggling away in a corner of my lizard hindbrain (which shrieks at me FIGHT OR FLIGHT OR FIGHT OR FLIGHT) all the time.
But it's a lesson for me, this; it's teaching me to force myself to focus on the moment I'm in, this moment, now, when my heart isn't failing and I'm not lined up for surgery and I am just living my life. I have always been particularly bad at letting go of the future. I'm not particularly nostalgic - mostly, I can remember and relinquish the past - but I still hold onto the comical illusion that I can shape my future and contain events through the brute force of my will. I can't, obviously, but it takes crises and uncertainty to remind me of that sometimes.
So I worry, but I also stop worrying for stretches as I get on with being. I walk my children to school and I pause as I need to when my heart goes doolally, and it's not a sign of the coming Apocalypse, it's just a momentary pause. I work, fulfilling commitments to clients, and sip my decaf tea without a grimace. I help my three year old water our strawberries, our citrus and our mint, I prune my roses, and I breathe deep as their various scents fill the cool autumn air. I teach my almost-7-year-old to make chocolate crackles and I practice my piano pieces. I read, continuously - drawn back to revisit Connie Willis's knockout Blitz double-act, Blackout and All Clear, reading storybooks to C, and reading Anne of Green Gables and its sequels aloud to my big girls, who can read themselves but enjoy the snuggling-up sharing of the spoken word. I cook meals and I do laundry. I sleep when I can and I write when I can't. (When I sleep, I dream of strange things, often involving near-misses and frights relieved). I try to be, and mostly am, with my children and my partner in mind as well as body.I try to be OK - really OK - with knowing that I don't know yet what's wrong, and that life is a chaotic system which could have a thousand reasons - or none at all - for the misfiring of my heart.
Waiting isn't a pleasant state of being. But dark cloud or no, there is plenty of bright edging, especially when I relinquish my need to control, and just let it all unravel as it will.