This morning I wasn't allowed either food or coffee (the latter deprivation a serious one indeed) because I had an early appointment for a "stress echo" test, a phrase I couldn't figure out until I remembered the "echo" in "echocardiogram." My father had two heart attacks, and my doctor reminds me that I'm of the age for vigilance -- so off to the cardiologist's lab I went. Ten sensors were attached to my chest; I lay on a table on my side while another sort of sensor was pressed to my rib cage near my heart. I climbed on a treadmill and began to walk, speed and incline gradually increasing, until I was running, and my heart-rate had reached the level of intensity the technicians wanted.
Then I had to lie down again, quickly, on the table, and the sensor was pressed to my skin again. And then, when they were done, I turned my head and saw, on a video screen, my own heart. It was golden, and pulsing, and resembled a cross between a Georgia O'Keefe flower and a jellyfish. On the left hand side, it was pulsing at its normal rate; on the right, it was contracting furiously -- so strange to think of all my blood pouring through that aperture! During how little of history have people been able to see their own beating heats? I couldn't resist asking the technician how it looked. He said, "Really great."