My Old Heart | #4

by Elouise

Sleeping Sofia_435_291

Learning about bradycardia answered questions I’ve had about people dying in their sleep. Especially, but not only older people. The image of dying in my sleep got into my imagination….

My heart was old
Before its time—
It almost died in its sleep

For over 15 years my heart gasped for air, begged for rest and stumbled along. It tried to tell me something was out of kilter, not just in my psyche or spirit, but in my body.

I thought it was about adult health habits, such as not getting enough exercise or downtime.

But my adult habits were rooted in childhood survival skills that got me through punishing situations. As an adult I pushed through exhaustion to meet deadlines and expectations internal and external. I didn’t know how to say ‘No, I won’t do that.’ After all, I didn’t want to commit professional suicide, did I?

Before I finished high school I already had an uneasy if not dis-eased heart. It didn’t have a safe home, an advocate, or accessible allies. My heart regularly revved up due to fear and anxiety, with no alternative but to knuckle down and get through the moment.

Childhood survival skills were like going to sleep, numbing out, hoping things would be better the next day. I became an expert at keeping family secrets and swallowing my emotions.

But today I have Lucy! My very own female heart ally and advocate! That may sound silly, but to me it’s seriously silly business. Lucy Pacemaker isn’t just a fancy bit of electronic magic. She’s my ally, an ever-watchful advocate, in case my heart decides it would rather go to sleep.

Lucy stays awake 24/7 so I can rest like a baby. I can’t imagine she would let my heart die in its sleep without raising an awful ruckus on my behalf!

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 April 2016
Image from