On August 8, 2011, I had an artificial pacemaker implanted in my heart. Its purpose is to take over the work of stimulating the heart muscle correctly so it beats as it should—-not too fast, not too slow. Pacemakers must be checked regularly by a Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing Specialist in the hospital. Additionally, technology has provided a way to check one’s pacemaker from home with a mobile device that is connected to a land-line telephone. I visit my doctor at the Cleveland Clinic once or twice a year. The rest of the year I report from the mobile device that guides me with blinking green lights and high-pitched beeps. It sounds other-worldly and the test is usually completed within ten or fifteen minutes.
In the beginning I experienced some anxiety while doing the test from home.
This story is about my recent home test using the mobile device. I was notified by letter from my doctor’s office to perform a remote test at 9:00 A,M, on April 24, 2013. My husband helped me arrange the recliner close to the window in the den. On a good day we can see all kind of visitors such as deer, squirrels and an occasional coyote. There are cardinals, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, crows, red-tailed hawks, and the turkey vultures returned in March. Oh yes, did I mention the neighbor’s cats and dogs that show up now and then? Our backyard is heavily wooded with both deciduous and coniferous trees.
It is almost 9:00 A.M. and I am prepared to turn on the mobile device and start the test. All set now–so push the start button and begin the test. Green lights flicker and flash and beeps start the routine. A telephone rings in the electro-physiology lab at the Clinic. I relax when the machine and I are are on the same page informed by the mobile device. Just as I settle back with my right hand holding the monitor over my pacemaker, I notice a loud drumming sound in the the backyard.. It is fierce and serious and cannot be ignored. It’s the pileated woodpecker. She has a hole or many holes in one or more of our trees. The leaves came out on the trees recently and I cannot see her now. She drums away with rhythm that mocks the sound of a heartbeat heard through a stethoscope. I try to compare the cadence of the woodpecker’s beat with what is happening in my body. No anxiety now; I am ready to march with this “drummer.”
The magic of nature’s music allows us to meditate and open our senses. If we surrender to the soundscape of our environment we may find the sacred. I have always feel close to the divinity when I am in the woods hiking, taking photos, or simply watching white-tail deer as they feed or rest. The monitor that is placed against my chest can be removed now. I always hesitate to remove the monitor that is telling the computer 156 miles away what is happening to my aging heart. Is the pacemaker working properly, is the data placed carefully in the computer that keeps my information confidential. Will the telephone ring today or tomorrow to alert me to some problem?
It has been almost two years since I started this routine. I trust the medical personnel that tell me everything is OK, and I try not being anxious.
Ancient healers, shamans, and seers noted that the drumming song of the woodpecker is the heartbeat of the Earth. Although I chose to adopt the pileated woodpecker’s staccato beats for my own purposes, perhaps she was just looking for something good to eat.
We finished the test in record time and it is safely locked in the computer in the electro-physiology lab at the clinic. As for the pileated woodpecker I hear her daily. She is still hammering away and I hope she appears for the next mobile check-up.