America, April 3, 2006
I said a heart murmur, not a heart rumor
Whoosh, sha.. Woosh, sha.. This is the sound of my heart beating. This is what I hear as I lay on this table while I get a Doppler 2-D echocardiogram. On a screen behind me, the technician is watching my heart beat, using the Doppler to see where my blood is going. Looking for what my doctor suspects and I fear: the source of my heart murmur.
Earlier today, during my routine physical and in the midst of declaring me a healthy fit guy, Dr. Rashbaum declared I have a heart murmur. Not a heart rumor, which a few ex-girlfriends would claim, but a full on hear murmur.
A heart murmur?! What could that be, I wondered till just now. Casting aside my thoughts of total blood backflow or aorta rupture, the eckta-tech pointed out my small, minimal blood backflow from my left ventricle. Of course, I saw the thin walls of my valves, the odd colors of the blood flow, and promptly freaked right the hell out.
Like the time when I had a tuberculosis test in China, where I stood behind a large X-ray machine and the doctor watched my heart and lungs work for a few seconds, I had a moment of mortality looking at the Doppler 2-D echocardiogram. I realized then, in cold black and white, what all those colorful textbooks said was true. We are kept alive by delicate, pulsating organs inside our bodies.
My pulsing heart organ is apparently larger than normal, a result of my triathlon training. And besides the small, seemingly normal backflow, perfectly healthy. In fact, I'm startling healthy across the board. From cholesterol to liver to thyroid, I'm clean, I'm even HIV negative.
As we were discussing my joy to be virus clean, Dr. Rashbaum took an odd tangent. He said that HIV today is not like it was 10 years ago. Now it's more a chronic disease than a killer, diabetes not a death sentence. Wait, check that.
He said that if he had to pick between the two, HIV would be easier to manage and live with than diabetes. That somehow a blood sugar deficiency is worse than an immune deficiency. That Ben & Jerry's is more dangerous than barebacking.
Now that is a novel statement, what with all the sex = death hype that HIV gets in the news. Might Dr. Rashbaum be on to something here, or should I be more worried about that murmur than he let on?