A Thank You Note to My Heart (Seriously)

Heart Health

Yesterday, I saw my heart in action. My beautiful, heroic, gorgeously fluttering mitral valve. And that pulmonary valve of perfection in the chamber next door.

Now before you wonder if I’ve gone wiggy in the head from the cooties in my house, I went to the cardiologist yesterday (I’m fine) and they fit me into the schedule for the ultrasound/stress test deal where you get to see your heart from every angle.

I tell you, science kicks some major ass, to be able to do all that in under 30 minutes.

But to really understand why this was so exciting for me, you should know that in 2005 my handy heart valves protected my brain from about 50 blood clots.

Yep, you heard me. FIFTY. Ish.

Here’s the quickie version:

  • In 2005, I developed blood clots in both legs, one of which shattered, sending a shower of blood clots to my lungs (thanks to those vivacious valves).
  • No one tells you this, but blood clots freaking hurt. They’re unnatural little buggers that hang out in unusual places and behave in bizarre ways. However, the doctors promise you the pain will go away in 6-8 weeks.
  • The pain in my lungs didn’t go away, so at about 11 weeks I went to a pulmonologist to find out “WTH!”

Enter Dr. Ramisetti, a fabulous doctor with a soft voice and a fantasic Indian accent. [My internal dialogue is in pink.]

Dr. R: The two CAT scans of your lungs are very, very dramatic.

Me: [WTF?! Dramatic can NOT be good.] Um, dramatic how, exactly?

Dr. R: The first one was dramatic for how many, many blood clots you had. The second one was dramatic for how quickly they decreased.

Me: [Huh.] How many blood clots are we talking about here?

Dr. R: Oh, many many.

Me: [Holy Mother of God. I thought there were like two.] So, like 10?

Dr. R: Oh, many, many more.

Me: *My guy and I are making shocky faces at each other* A hundred??

Dr. R: Maybe less.

So the Hubs-to-be and I are reeling because we had no idea. Nobody tells you these things at the time, and in hindsight I think it’s better that way. I was scared enough without having that “maybe less than a hundred freaking blood clots” music in my head.

I settled on 50  as the magic total whenever I talk about it. “Fifty” is a nice round number and frankly, going any higher makes my stomach feel squinchy. Here’s the basic story, in case you’re unfamiliar with my blood clot surprise.

Anywho, yesterday was the first time I’d ever seen my heart work in all it’s red pumpy glory. Really, I was wildly impressed. That’s one heck of an impressive muscle, especially that four-piece band called the mitral valve.

I asked the technician which part kept the clots out of my heart and brain and she said, “mitral.” Hence this ode.

Mitral Valve

Artificial mitral valve makes location easy to see

I’d never grasped the nitty-gritty details of the heart before.  For instance, I didn’t know the mitral valve was on the bottom, or that it is the gatekeeper that kept my heart (and brain) safe when the too-many-to-count shower of death clots came barreling through. Or that the pulmonary valve whisked all those suckers straight out of there and into my lungs.

Trust me, y’all, if you’ve got to have the clots, down in the legs or in the lungs is where you want them. Yes, they hurt (for a really, super long time) but I’m ALIVE.

Thank you, my magical mitral…you marvelous, mind-blowing mensch of a valve. And also to you, my passionate pulmonary powerhouse. I owe y’all at least 50 thank you’s.

Which body part do you give the most thanks to, and why? Enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

p.s. If you need some magical, lyrical writing inspiration click over to Kimberly Brock’s post, “You, Storytellers of the Blue World.”

Mitral valve photo courtesy of Patrick J. Lynch – Flickr – CC License 2.0.
Top photo courtesy of Emmanuel Huybrechts – Flickr – CC License 2.0.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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43 Responses to A Thank You Note to My Heart (Seriously)

  1. LauraDrake says:

    We’re SO glad you’re still here to be a happy, loving, fun part of our lives, Jenny.
    Your story reminded me of 6th grade – we had a field trip to a lab. They had pig hearts that they used to demonstrate how the heart worked. Most of the girls were all ewwwwwy about it, but I put on gloves and stuck my fingers through the aorta, vena cava, the whole thing. It was awesome, and I still retain the awe of how that muscle works.

    Glad you got a clean bill!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Glad to hear all is well with your heart!!! You have been through so much already, phew!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had one of those tests a couple years ago when my heart went nuts (over 200 beats/min for FIVE HOURS STRAIGHT in the middle of the night @.@) and it was soooo fascinating to see my heart actually working. And to hear it! Did they turn on the sound for you? And lucky me, that test showed that there was nothing wrong with my heart itself – I just have low blood pressure.

    So I’m with you on thanking my heart every day❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amber West says:

    Glad your heart is behaving! Amazing how much that one valve can do!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cory Ann Imhof says:

    I’m so glad you are giddy and gloriously going forward with a fabulous and laughter filled life.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow – your heart is a brilliant and strong and resilient. Like YOU!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m always bowled over by how gorgeous your spirit is, Deb. Thank you! And here’s hoping that all is fine with the ticker. I need to get the calcium test done before they’ll tell me anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I remember this story (which I heard in person at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar – a day I shall not soon forget) and at thinking (and commenting) about how much like my hubby’s story this sounded. He too was plagued with blood clots, which have since been under control thanks to the daily ingestion of rat poison, otherwise known as coumadin.

    I am so glad that you are healthy! Now let’s keep it that way. (And let’s get together again at Trader Sam’s?)

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Liked by 1 person

  8. K.B. Owen says:

    I’m so glad you’re okay, Jenny! And yes, even when some things are going wrong, there are still so many things going right. Hugs.❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Right on, Kathy! Is Paul totally past his shingles? Everyone hale and hearty at your place? I noticed I caught every bug that came around for over a year after I had shingles.

      Like

  9. Kelly Byrne says:

    Holy moly, Jenny! Had no idea you went through that kind of pain. Yikes. Must have been scary as hell. I’ll send my 50 thanks to your mensch of a mitral valve as well for doing a damn fine job keeping you alive.

    I had a stress test a few years ago so I got to see the little squinchy heart that could working away too. It’s an utterly fascinating, amazing machine. Without it, we don’t work so well.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll join in with being glad you’re here, Jenny. There’s nothing like a close call to make one very happy to be alive. Those clots do hurt like a bear, so I can’t imagine dealing with your numbers! {hugs}

    I had an echo cardiogram a few years ago, which was entertaining due to my mitral valve prolapse making a very interesting rhythm. It works, though, and that’s all I care about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      How are your blood clots doing, Elizabeth? It’s a sobering moment when they tell you the diagnosis, isn’t it? Now that I know the mitral valve has 4 parts, I’m not surprised so many people have unusual behavior with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m doing well, thanks, Jenny. I’m really lucky that my clots were from surgery. Umm.that sounds weird, but you know what I mean. It’s reasonably common to get clots after surgery. It is most assuredly a wake-up call, but I think it was good I got that call. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. And I will reiterate how happy I am that you made it through your clot storm.

        Like

  11. karenmcfarland says:

    I remember when you told me this story and how much it freaked me out. And I’m so glad to know you’re okay. But what made your doctor want to run a heart test to begin with? That’s not a routine kind of test, is it? ((Hugs))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      My chest has hurt on and off for at least a month, Karen. The Hubs and I think it’s skeletal but I have a very proactive doctor, so we’re just checking to be sure. If nothing else, I’ll have a nice baseline for my heart.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. That is crazy!! Yay for your heart! I give props to my uterus, because I almost ended up losing it and without it I wouldn’t have my wonderful 13-year-old daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Julie Glover says:

    Whew! I’m so glad you were fine, but sorta not surprised that you kicked 50 blood clots — sounds just like you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jenny … who knew? What a shockingly frightening time that must have been! Thanks for the excellent reminder to keep our hearts as healthy as we can so they can repel unwanted invaders as yours did. May those nasty clots be banished forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. yvettecarol says:

    Yes, I thank your glorious, amazing heart too, Jenny! Wow, what a journey you’ve been through, that of a real warrior. You must being honed for great things on this earth🙂
    p.s. coincidentally, I reviewed an awesome book about traveling to the ‘story heart’ today, (over on my blog,http://www.yvettecarol.wordpress.com). I truly believe when you’ve been around someone with whom it’s been life-or-death, or whether you’ve had a moment like that yourself (as you have), that it makes you only care to get to the heart of the matter. There’s no time for pussyfooting around!
    Carry on, be strong!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Scary stuff. My aunt died of this at age 38. She had the clots in her legs, they went to her lungs and she passed out. Ambulance got her to the hospital and after a few days, she was fine and ready to go home on her new blood thinners. But another clot broke loose and didn’t get routed to her lungs. It was so long ago I can’t remember exactly if it went to her brain or if it caused a heart attack, but it was sudden and unexpected. Family was waiting to get the phone call to pick her up and bring her home. But that wasn’t the call they got.
    Very sad day.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Catherine, I’m so, so sorry to hear it. That’s a pretty common story. My doc calls me his “One-percenter.” When there are multiple clots in the extremities, the blood thinners actually can loosen things up so they move. That’s what happened to me and your aunt. I’ve often thought of having a filter put into the top of my leg, since I have a clotting disorder. The filter can catch these things before they travel.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Excellent post, Jenny. So serious, yet humorous. I had no idea the mitral valve was the hero for you and my daughter. Super scary to have that many clots in your lungs and clots in both legs. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. markbialczak says:

    Yay, mitral. My heart goes out to your heart patrol, Jenny. Unclotted those coagulated little buggers! Sorry it pained you so, but, wow, what a great outcome. Congratulations. Fifty. Yowser.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The heart is an amazingly strong muscle. Good to hear that yours is doing your job and all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. constance cassady says:

    hay girl! i will call you ! it is so much easier! i am confused! love c

    Like

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