You can’t physically feel your heart break. That’s what the doctor said as he looked at me, stethoscope in hand. Hearts don’t actually break. That’s an emotion, it has nothing to do with the organ. And yours is just fine, Jim, he informed me.
But I’d had chest pains. And they’d gone down my arm, and into my neck.
He inquired about when exactly it happened. He put the stethoscope on my back, between my shoulder blades.
Last night, I told him. I couldn’t breathe.
And what was happening at the time? he asked. What else was going on?
My wife left me, I said.
His face didn’t change, he just kept moving the metal disk around my back, and then back to the front. Well, he said. We could do an EKG, if that would make you feel better, but everything is checking out. He hung the ‘scope back around his shoulders and looked at me rather intently. He said he still felt my problem was emotional and he could recommend a psyche evaluation. He asked if I was depressed.
My wife just left me, Doc, I said. I’m as depressed as all fuck.
His bushy eyebrows knitted, and he nodded. Then he asked if I was a danger to myself.
I thought about how I’d felt when I saw her standing there, coat on, bag in hand. How my ears had done a funny ringing thing when she corrected me and said, no, you don’t understand, I won’t be back. That’s when the chest pains started and my arm went numb, and it felt like there was an ice cube melting in the center of my chest.
No, Doc, I told him. No danger to myself. I thought that was my heart attack’s job.
He wrote on his chart, and flipped the metal lid closed. He said he’d give me some baby aspirins to take, but there really wasn’t any more to do unless I wanted the EKG.
I thought maybe if I went home, she might be there. She was always there when I came home. So maybe it had all been a bad dream, brought on by a mild, undetectable coronary infarction. So I held on to that thought, and said, thanks, Doc, but I’ll go home and rest.
He told me to take it easy for a few days, maybe take some time off work, and keep my stress levels down. I said no problem.
I chewed a couple of the tiny aspirin in the car on the way home. I felt pretty normal, for a middle-aged guy not in the best health. Not in the worst, either, but I do like my Coars and potato chips. And I’m pretty opposed to gyms. But still, I take walks and eat at least one green thing every day. Why? Because I have a wife at home who feeds me well, because she loves me.