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Taking a heart-healthy view of life

Seeing the image of my heart beating inside my chest on a monitor screen had a profound impact on me. It was an amazing sight, this fantastic chunk of muscle was pumping blood and providing the pulse I could feel throughout my body.

For some reason, I kept thinking of my mother and how my heartbeat was first heard by some doctor while she was pregnant with me. I looked at my heart and couldn’t stop thinking of my mom. She gave me that heart and it used to beat inside her body. It’s almost too much to comprehend. It was also downright emotional.

I also thought, “Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop.” It looked strong on the screen but somehow fragile. If something were to make it stop, that’d be it. Over and out.

It got me thinking about the fragility of life. I’ve been married for 36 years, raised four children and now enjoy eight grandchildren, all of whom are relatively healthy and happy.

My husband and I have successfully avoided most common medical issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. His brothers haven’t been so lucky but I suppose genetics have more to do with it than luck. He is the third of four boys raised by a single mom, a nurse who will be 78 in March.

His oldest brother, a police detective who retired several years ago after 30 years on the force, had quintuple bypass heart surgery two years ago. He also has hypertension and other issues.

His second oldest brother died more than four years ago 18 days after getting a lung cancer diagnosis. He shriveled from a robust, if ornery, middle-age man to the image of death in less than three weeks. I’ve never seen anyone deteriorate so quickly.

I have one sister and three brothers who are alive and kicking, thank God. Mom will be 70 in January and deals with arthritis but who doesn’t?

I never understood people who didn’t take care of themselves by having regular check-ups and health screenings. I was so eager to have my colonoscopy at 50, the people at the doctor’s office thought I was a little nutty. What? Doesn’t everyone bring a clown and balloons to such procedures?

I always think it’s better to know and face health issues head-on than go around thinking you are not only OK but invincible. I was terrified of what the heart echo would show but was ready to hear the bad news and do whatever I needed to do.

Thankfully, the news was great, no blockages, no enlargement, my heart was 100 percent as it should be.

I only wish I’d gotten a photo of it to show doubting readers who consider me nothing but a “heartless” reporter. Not so, see?