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Monday, February 24, 2014

Echo


Echo today. I get one every few months because of my year of Herceptin, and the cardiac damage that drug can do. An echo-cardiogram is a sonogram, or ultrasound, of the heart.

I'm thinking about echos as the technician sticks electrodes to my chest. "This will feel cold," she says as she applies the wand, covered in blue gel. As usual, I don't feel anything there.

The first time I had an echo was actually in high school, during a mystery illness. Odd symptoms, months of achy legs and a butterfly rash, pointed to things like lupus, but thankfully turned out only to an unusual case of strep. Anyway, while it was still a mystery I had an echo, and the swishing sound of my beating heart made me laugh, uncontrollably.

As the sound of my heart plays again, sounding alternately like cats fighting and bad dub step, I think of my other near misses. The times when it could have been bad but wasn't. The riding accident when I was ten that left my helmet crushed, but my skull intact. Another mystery illness, when I was eight and couldn't eat or sleep from belly pain. After several procedures (that were difficult to perform on a stubborn second grader) there was a collective shrugging of shoulders: it must be nerves.


I think of those moments of almost-catastrophe, and wonder if this was the time when my luck just ran out. It couldn't keep being nothing.

Or, I realize, this could have been another near miss after all. I won't know, till I die from something else.
The tech finishes up, and I wait for the doctor to tell me the results. A man with perfect teeth shakes me hand, and tells my I have a normal healthy heart.

Growing up, there was a railroad bridge near our house. When I was small every time we would walk under it I would yell "Abaygo!" which was my way of saying "A big echo!" I can still hear my voice reverberating, repeating, returning.

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