Heart of My Heart

Editor’s Note: This post was originally written in February 2021.

The organ of the heart is a marvel. This rugged four-chambered, four-valved pump which handles 5,000 gallons of blood a day, almost enough to fill a railroad tank car. It supplies the circulatory system through 12,000 miles of vessels, and in the course of the average lifetime beats two and one half billion times. There is an additional strategic function of the heart long unknown.

A British researcher at Southampton University and author, Dr. Alan Watkins, helpS our understanding. In his book “Mind-Body Medicine: a Clinician’s Guide to Psycho/neuro/immunology” he speaks of the heart as the body’s powerhouse which has a “hitherto unrecognized role in balancing the entire human system.” He states the heart produces 50 times more electrical energy than the brain and a thousand times more electro-magnetic energy. Being the strongest power source in the body, it coordinates all the other body systems, including the brain, commonly thought to be the dominant organ.

The blood it pumps through the body contains hemoglobin, a blood protein that is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body and delivering it to the different cells and tissues. An insufficient supply to the lungs makes breathing difficult. That is but one of my deficiencies.

At birth I had Methemoglobinemia. It is also called “blue baby syndrome.” It is a condition where a baby’s skin turns blue. This happens when there is not enough oxygen in the blood. Some babies are born with it (congenital) and some develop it early in life (acquired). Medicine was not as advanced then as now. I was described as having a hole in my heart. They gave me less than three months to live. Obviously I did. My childhood play was significantly limited. In adolescence I improved dramatically and began living a normal robust teenage and adult life. Unfortunately my heart has been declining recently in its efficiency. I have no reason to complain; it has served me well for nearly 90 years.

Three years ago I had a heart valve replaced. Complications resulted in some health challenges. One is necessitating a stint or stints being placed in the heart March 10, 2021. This should result in better blood flow and more oxygen supplied throughout the body causing all systems to work better. Hence, better breathing. These procedures are a miracle and that is what I am praying for.

The heart has long been thought of as the center of emotions, especially love. Prior to that, the liver was thought of in that regard. Imagine songs in which the liver replaces the heart in the title: “I Left My Liver in San Francisco,” “You’re On My Liver,” or lines like: “I love you with all my liver.” Enough.

The theme text of my life has been: 

“… whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” (Colossians 3:23) No room for goofing is allowed there.