Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kokoro to Waga Jinsei No Ai


I write this with an unfashionable black thing hanging from my neck a few days before Sports Day, a national holiday in Japan to call attention to the importance of fitness and good health.
The thing around my neck is a Zymed DigiTrak-Plus 48 ECG monitor which checks my heart rate, the rhythm and so on and records the data to be downloaded tomorrow midday when I take it back to the hospital. I got it after a scary episode early in the day that reminded me yet again of John Lennon’s maxim that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
It was not a heart attack. I spent a good deal of time on a gurney while at least three emergency room doctors and nurses and aides drew blood, X-rayed me, checked muscle tone, blood chemistry and gas (yes, blood has gas, put me on a glucose drip and even gave me nitroglycerin (It comes in handy spray dispensers now). In addition to the usual prodding and poking and question-and-answer drill, I went feet-first into ultrasound, where two heart specialists watched my heart from all known medical perspectives.
It turns out they missed one, which Dr. Hasegawa (I should call him sensei from here on), a bright young cardiologist, discerned very quickly after seeing that all the tests found that I not only have a good heart (in the sense of being sound and viable, especially for my age) and almost-clear lungs (especially especially for my age), but am about 90 percent not likely to have a heart attack.
It’s the other 10 percent he is concerned about. He diagnosed my situation as anxiety disorder. This is a general term to describe a variety of conditions, which you could read more about here:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/complete-publication.shtml.
When sensei looked at the findings of the ER team, checked my vitals and blood pressure again and showed me how to properly take my own pulse, he asked me questions. My ‘’episode’’ hit about an hour into my work day, and there was nothing particularly unusual about the work or other environmental factors. I don’t do drugs, and I have not had any alcohol for a few days, so he wanted to know whether there had been any traumatic The first thing I realized was that I had awakened the night before in a sudden burst of panic followed by depression so strong it made me cry.
This was a dream about the former significant person in my life, whom I shall refer to simply as waga jinsei no ai.
When I explained that waga jinsei no ai had left me some months ago, and that I love her deeply and I worry about how she is doing (shinpai suru). As I described some of the other things going on in my life, especially since that person left, sensei smiled and told me in English, ‘’Please don’t worry. You are fine.’’ He returned to Japanese to tell me that these conditions are not unusual when people have some deeply emotional event in their lives. Usually, people try to restore the balance, at least superficially, and get on with their daily lives. But sooner or later, as with my heart and I this morning, those events catch up with us. The effects vary widely. In my case, one of the effects is that I carry this heart monitor around.
Even after I take it off tomorrow, and no matter what the data show, I will always know that the heart, although simply a sophisticated muscle-powered blood pump, is also universally recognized as the seat of our emotions. Not the brain. Not the sex organs. The heart.
The heart.

1 comment:

May said...

I read this entry several times and because I think I know some of the background, I now understand what's happening. The breakup was obviously very traumatic for both of you, but you and she need to resolve your issues before either of you has any more damage to your physical and mental health! Please.