“We’re going to take care of your heart today,” the practitioner said as he led me down the dark hall to the exam room. He was middle-aged, with grey hair and glasses. I wish I could have seen his full face instead of it being half-covered by a medical mask, but his eyes seemed kind enough. He asked if I had any questions, and I said no.
I was only there for preventative measures, and I was fairly certain everything would come back normal. But given my family history of heart issues, I wanted to be safe.
He led me to a dimly lit room with computers, an ultrasound machine, an exam table, and other medical equipment and explained the process. I was to undress from the waist up and put a gown on with the opening to the front, then lie on my left side on the table close to the edge.
Once settled on the table, the practitioner placed a towel over my breast area and then readied his machine to examine my heart. He squeezed gel onto the ultrasound wand and placed it on my rib cage to begin, and suddenly on the screen above him appeared a grey fuzzy image of my heart chambers, opening and closing in rhythm. I was fascinated to see the movement happening inside my body right at that moment. I gazed at the screen, entranced.
The practitioner worked quietly, creating lines on the screen to take measurements, then moving the wand to different places on my body to get different perspectives. Time stood still. I felt safe the entire time, yet vulnerable. I wasn’t used to having someone look so deeply into my body, especially to what felt like the core of my being. My heart continued to beat as it always had, yet now I could actually see the work it was doing to keep me alive and healthy. Those moments felt sacred.
When the practitioner finished, he explained the doctor would follow up with results, but assured me if he had seen anything alarming he wouldn’t be letting me leave. I got dressed and left.
I stopped by Starbucks for a warm drink, as a way of saying to my body “Thank you for being vulnerable today. Thank you for working hard to keep me alive and well.” I continued to feel a sense of vulnerability throughout the rest of the day, a sense of energy movement behind my sternum. It felt uncomfortable and emotional, so I did my best to meet that feeling with gentleness and compassion. I had a fresh awareness of respect for my body and the sacredness of it. And that felt like a beautiful thing.