Extra Beats

Extra Beats

This year we got new insurance–hoorah! The old one wasn’t covering our preventative inhalers– Boo!
But the pediatrician, who we’d only been with for a year after our former doctor retired, doesn’t take the new insurance. So we had to get a new new pediatrician. And I was filled with dread, but I actually like her better. So it’s probably just as well, after all.

So I took Anthony and Lucy for their physicals and we met the new pediatrician and while she was listening to Anthony’s heart she heard three extra beats. And so we left her office with a referral to a cardiologist. It’s probably benign, but this is the kind of thing you want to check out thoroughly.

So Anthony and I spent Valentines Day morning having his heart looked at while the other kids stayed home and cut out paper hearts and foil hearts and glued them to construction paper cards. We got an electrocardiogram–EKG and then talked with the doctor. It didn’t catch the extra beats, but she felt one as soon as she put her hand on his chest and heard them when she listened with her stethoscope. So then another, longer, EKG. And then bloodwork. And then an echocardiogram– heart ultrasound. And then a monitor for him to wear for the next 24 hours. And it will almost certainly prove to be benign. But still, we are being thorough. And that’s a good thing.

After three hours at the cardiologist– and we forgot to bring a book for Anthony to read and all I had was a book of poetry– we were both beat. So to speak. So I took him for a McDonald’s treat. And then we went to the library and got a pile of books. And then to the pharmacy where we got some Valentines candy to take home and share.

Ben gave me a heart addressed “to Mama Bear by Little Bear” and Sophie gave me one from herself and Kylo Ren. And Bella gave me a sweet heart and so did little Lucy. And they all had cards for Anthony too. He was pleased.

And, well, I also wrote a little poem that seemed to catch a little something of the day.

Extra Beats

Today I paced in a dark room
and watched on a dark screen
a white line that was the valve
of your ventricle beating
out an irregular rhythm
with extra beats.

A little door opening and
closing and opening and closing
as you do when you wildly,
repeatedly, slam your bedroom door,
my rambunctious child.

I heard the hoosh and slosh
and squish of that little muscle pushing
blood through your not-so
little anymore body.
That beat that began more than
eight years ago now— though
next week we celebrate your
eighth birthday. It began

in the dark womb, a flicker
in a clump of cells that was
you that began one day in
the secret dark to have rhythm:
beat beat beat against
the walls of my inmost self.

Hoosh hoosh you were so small when
I saw the flicker for the first time. You were
within— and I saw your heart
before I saw your face,
the grainy white beat on a dark
screen that made my heart sing.

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