Medical Note:
11 October 2018

¶ This is the examination that I dread.

First of all, it’s very uncomfortable. I have to stretch out on my left side, which I never do in nature, and support my head with my left arm — a Buddha in agony. Then there’s the sonogram part. It’s all very nice to check out fetuses: there are no bones in the way. The heart is in a birdcage, playing peekaboo. The device in the doctor’s hand must be pressed hard; it sort of hurts. And all that goo, which takes about a dozen paper towels to scrape off. 

Second, I can’t bear to watch. It’s revoltingly obvious that natural selection has played no role in the appearance of internal organs. And even though mine is very slightly enlarged, the heart is really very small. Surely this can’t be right. 

Finally, there’s the possibility of terrifying news! I get so worked up about this beforehand that I’m almost disappointed when there turns out to be no news at all, when everything is more or less the same as it was last year, only slightly more worn and torn. That was again the case this time. My aortal valve is slightly blocked (not opening all the way, I think), but I was assured that there is nothing to be done about this for several years at least, by which time “the procedure” will probably be performed via catheter, not open-heart surgery. 

I take the doctor’s word for it. I do not come home and Google things. My faith in my doctors is very firm, and they cost the earth besides. I also understand that they can’t do everything, even today! So, as long as my heart keeps me alive, I won’t be thinking about it (I pray) until next year.

As a young man, I often wondered if I would live to see the new century. I have every reason to believe that, without the attentions of modern medicine, I’d have missed it. 

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