by Maddy McLean
A normal human heart is defined as an organ that pumps blood throughout the body. It has four chambers: two upper chambers, called the atria, and two lower ones, called the ventricles. Together, they beat in the most beautiful, succinct pattern you could ever imagine.
My mother’s human heart is not so normal. Her senatorial node, the area of specialized cells that controls the rhythm of her heartbeat, does not communicate with her ventricles as they should. The ventricles refuse to listen to the senatorial node’s electrical impulses, resulting in a lack of contraction that would otherwise pump blood throughout her body.
The first time her senatorial node and ventricles didn’t agree, my mother could have sworn she was having a heart attack. She described it as flip-flopping, fluttering, pounding, jumping, and skipping, all at once. A monster screaming and fighting, about to burst through her rib cage, she said.
My human heart is not so normal either. Instead of not communicating with my ventricles my senatorial node doesn’t get along very well with my atria. My atria refuses to listen to the senatorial node’s electrical impulses, resulting in a lack of the contraction that would otherwise pump blood throughout my body.
The first time my senatorial node and atria didn’t agree, I could have sworn I was having a heart attack. My mother was right – it really did feel like flip-flopping, fluttering, pounding, jumping, and skipping all at once. Alas, her monster had come to haunt me, too.
After an impromptu visit to the hospital, my mother was diagnosed with Premature Ventricle Contractions. Just six months later, I too partook in an impromptu visit to the hospital, where I was then diagnosed with Premature Atrial Contractions.
My doctor described premature heart contractions as an increased awareness of your own heartbeat. But what about when you are aware of someone else’s, too? What about when that monster lives not only in your own rib cage, but your mother’s as well?
Together, the right atria and right ventricle make up the “right heart,” and the left atrium and left ventricle make up the “left heart.” Maybe if my mother and I put our atria and ventricles together, we would have at least one normal human heart – one that effectively pumps blood through our bodies and actually does what it’s supposed to fucking do.