Tuesday, August 10, 2004


If you've been reading this site lately, you're aware that I've been having sort of a health concern involving my heart. Basically, my heart sometimes beats too soon then waits a moment before beating again (the second beat is especially strong—strong enough for me to feel in my chest—since blood has built up a little). The effect is that I feel my heart beating randomly rather than steadily. I have had no fewer than five doctors assure me that the condition is completely benign, that it is not harming me in any way and will never do so and that I should not feel any concern for my well-being. When they explain it to me, it makes perfect sense, but then I feel the odd beats pounding against my ribs, I take my pulse and feel my heart seem to stop momentarily, and I get dizzy and lightheaded. Then I realize that there's this little engine inside me that's supposed to run without a rest for 90 years or so, and after 32 it's already missing on a cylinder or two. I must confess that it causes me the concern that my doctors say is unwarranted.

The worst time is at night when I'm trying to go to sleep. When I'm awake, I'm aware of what my heart is doing. I know that if anything happens I can probably get someone's attention before I pass out. Even if I can't, then my falling to the floor will likely not go unnoticed in most situations. If my heart just stops during the day, I can almost count on someone administering CPR and/or calling an ambulance for me. If I go to sleep, though, that's no longer the case. I won't be able to monitor my heartbeat, and nothing in my demeanor will change noticeably if something happens. I've spent a few sleepless nights simply due to fear of losing track of my heart. I prayed about it a lot. I did not, however, share my fears with my wife.

I wondered whether I should tell her how I was feeling. I assessed the situation as objectively and as logically as I could, and I decided that telling her would not alleviate my fear and would serve only to frighten her. So I kept this from her until the day an arrhythmia specialist convinced me to a 99% certainty that I was in absolutely no danger of death. I realized too late how wrong I had been in keeping my fears to myself.

I had based my decision on the wrong criteria. Logic works well in cases where it applies, but it does not really apply in the areas of emotion and relationships. Logic says nothing about how people feel. I know that if my wife were afraid to sleep, I'd want to know. There's no logic behind that desire—I would just want to know. However little I might be able to help, I could at least be more sensitive, more attentive to her needs, and more effectively prayerful. In my case, I didn't give her that opportunity, and now she probably feels cheated and hurt. I understand that, I have apologized, and I have (hopefully) learned a lasting lesson. If anything like this happens in the future, I will not ask myself, "What will telling her accomplish?" Instead, I will ask, "If the situation were reversed, how would I want it handled?"