Op Note V
The patient had broken his heart. Or at least that’s what he claimed. So we cracked his chest and slit the hazy film of pericardium. The restless red muscle thrashed about within its cage like a trapped animal. Cardioplegia solution was infused and we packed it in crushed ice until it went still and gray. I searched every chamber. Examined the atria and ventricles, front and back. Nary a scratch or fissure to be found. Even the coronaries were soft and pliable. This was a good heart. It wasn’t broken. It just needed to rest. The potassium citrate was stopped. The ice was scooped out. . We waited for it to warm, to wake up. A true heart doesn’t have to be told. It happens on its own. Maroon fibers begin to flutter. It pulses with the menace of a downed wire. It starts to beat. You can’t decide to love. When it’s time, you feel it pounding pounding pounding deep inside until it’s just too much, there's not enough space, and it bursts forth into the pounding of someone else’s life.
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