That is to say, a matter concerning a literal, beating heart. To wit: my partner’s.
Soon after we got back from the UK, he went to the doctor for a routine checkup. The doctor didn’t like what he heard and sent him to the cardiologist two days later. He had a second cardiologist appointment less than a week after that and was told he’d need open heart surgery. That was five days ago. My head is still spinning a bit.
The underlying condition is a congenital defect in one of the valves, which is now effectively worn out. My partner and I are quite close in age: he’s not “young” but I feel like he’s young for a heart problem. I guess that’s because I’m thinking of heart disease, but this is a defect and thus a different beast. So the fact that he has done the things that help you avoid heart disease — eating well, being reasonably fit, not smoking, not drinking much — doesn’t score him any points in this particular game.
Having had his attention drawn to the symptoms, he began looking back to see if he could remember when they started. There’s the heart murmur that he has been aware of for a long time. About two years ago, he noticed a minor change. He figures the odd pounding-heart feeling has been about 6 months, worsening a bit about 3-4 months ago, and a bit more about a month ago.
Three months ago is when I arrived in the UK, and thus when we resumed fucking — a lot, and hard. It was enough to affect his fitness: he has lost weight as a result. So, perhaps we wore out that valve a little faster than absolutely necessary.
Now of course he’s paying a lot of attention to odd sensations, looking for symptoms and danger signs. He’s been told not to do any heavy lifting or exercise, and just to take it easy.
We had sex the other day, for the first time since getting this little bombshell. I did a lot more of the work than I usually do — oral, and a few positions where I was on top and/or more active, but we were at it for rather a while. His heart rate got up a bit high and felt weird to him. Afterwards I could hear his heart beating from over 12 inches (30 cm) away. That ain’t right.
We had another go today, similar to last time but with him making more of an effort to be less physical. Still, his heart rate was uncomfortably elevated. Even if it’s not so high as to be a problem, a fuck is not worth the resultant worry.
He has an appointment for an angiogram in two weeks to make sure there isn’t anything else going on that they need to know about. Surgery will follow soon after, probably within a few days. And then there’s recovery time.
In the meantime, he’s trying not to worry about having his traitorous heart ambush him before the surgery, or feel guilty about depriving me of the regular fucks that he feels I deserve. (If this had come up two years ago, it would have had absolutely no effect on our sex life.) As for me, I’m trying not to worry about the day of, success rates, and the details of the procedure. (I could never work in health care at any level: I’m much too squeamish. It’s not about blood per se — it’s about damaged flesh and pain, and empathy to the point where I can almost feel it myself. And needles, ugh.)
So I guess playtime is going to look rather different for a while.
You learn about yourself when confronted with difficult situations: “building character” and all that. I’m not angry about this because I don’t consider this to be a breach of a promise of good health, or a punishment for some moral infraction, known or unknown. We’re just in a holding pattern; nothing substantial has happened yet, and I’m pretty good with wait and see. I’m optimistic because, aside from this valve issue, my partner is in good health, which will stand him in good stead.
I’m a bit worried because I know that medical science is not perfect, sometimes the unexpected happens, and there is always some risk with anesthetic and surgery. But I’m not fretful because in the grand scheme of things the risk is small, and worrying (especially ruminating) has no effect on the outcome.
Also, there’s a good thing going on in my life right now, so when my mind wanders I tend to think of that rather than this health thing, which helps to keep me sane.
So. We shall see.