The time has come! As promised, I’m back again, asking you to share your experiences of heart disease through the fun (if slightly random) format of haiku!
Quick reminder… A haiku has 17 syllables in all: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. For our purposes, that’s really all you need to know – just don’t tell the haiku police I said so!
This month’s theme is CARDIAC DEVICES – pacemaker, ICD, CRT, LVAD, loop recorder, mechanical valve…basically anything non-organic that’s inserted into the body to monitor or assist a person’s heart function. I’m sorry that this prompt is a bit less universal than the previous months’ themes. Inevitably there will be a theme from time to time that doesn’t apply or appeal to everyone, but I’ll do my best to include wider themes in between.
Do you have a cardiac device? What is it and what does it do? What’s your relationship with your device? Have you given it a name? Does your device cause any unusual side effects or sensations? Who do you think owns your device? Is there anything about your device that makes you anxious, or does it make you feel safe? Is there anything it stops you from doing? Or maybe it allows you to do things you couldn’t previously? Do you like to keep your device to yourself or are you a loud and proud self-proclaimed cyborg? Anything you’ve ever thought about having a cardiac device, I want to hear it.
The device I have is called a CRT-D, as shown (in miniature) in the picture above. A CRT-D is a device that combines a three-lead pacemaker that makes the ventricles beat together (cardiac resynchronisation therapy – CRT) and an internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that monitors the heart and administers a shock if it detects a dangerously abnormal heartbeat.
I had my CRT-D fitted when my daughter was 18 months old and described it to her as “a magic machine that makes my heart go boom-boom instead of wibble-wobble,” which is actually a fairly accurate description of what it does! Over seven years on, we still refer to it as my magic machine in our house.
It took a long time, emotionally and physically, for me to get used to having my device. These days I love it – it’s the only treatment that’s ever improved my heart function and I do feel reassured by the defibrillator’s presence. Other than the test shock that’s delivered when the device is fitted, I’ve never been shocked by my ICD. Maybe I’d feel more anxious about its presence if I had.
The only real negative about my device is that it sometimes stimulates my diaphragm and gives me an annoying twitch in my abdomen. Well, that and the anxiety of going through airports, etc. But overall I feel really grateful to have it.
I tell you all this just to give you a bit of context for the device-inspired haiku I’ve written and shared below. Hopefully my haiku will get your creative juices flowing…and reassure you that what I’m seeking is conversation, not necessarily a masterpiece!
I am, I am, I am…not?
Device takes over.
Pacemaker kicks me
in the diaphragm again.
Breath lost through kick to
diaphragm from pacemaker –
My wonky heart – a kindness?
Keeping me alive.
Lightning bolt deployed.
Trembling heart responds in kind
while batteries last.
Although in my heart
I do expect to be shocked,
Your power shocks still.
Seven years and still no shock.
I feel unworthy.
“Pacemaker?! But you’re so young!”
Yes, that’s why it sucks.
My “magic machine”
Makes my heart go boom-boom and
You are one of us
If airport security
Pat you down each time.
OK, so now it’s your turn… Please (please!) share a haiku (or two) with me and with other blog readers in the comments below. Towards the end of the month, I’ll use the comments on this post to put together another mini zine – please submit by August 21st if you want to be included in the zine. Just like last month’s (see video above) the zine will be FREE to download and print at home. If your haiku is selected, I’ll share it and your contributor name (and, if you include the information, the type of device you have) exactly as they appear in your comment. If you would prefer that your haiku was not featured in the downloadable zine, just let me know in your comment.
I’m so looking forward to hearing your thoughts about cardiac devices. Look out for the release of the downloadable zine at the end of August, and a new haiku topic in early September. Happy haikuing! 🙂
[P.S. How great are these vintage objects and pictures from Wellcome Collection’s online image database? I would thoroughly recommend exploring the collection here.]