10 April, 2013

In Mysterious Ways

It was a powerful moment.

A week earlier I had experienced a major heart attack - the one they call the widow maker. I made it to the Emergency Department in time, but before they could administer a clot-busting medicine (streptokinase or SK), I had the attack. By the way, when I woke up that morning, I had no doubt what was happening. The pain in my chest was incredible, and I told my wife to get me to the hospital as soon as possible.

The damage was done though, and today my heart pumps only about a third of what it should. The moment that was so powerful came as I lay in bed the day before my cardiac catheterization to determine where the blockage(s) might be. Those arterie(s) might then be opened to allow normal blood flow to the heart muscle.

It was late in the afternoon, and I was alone. My wife, who stays with me whenever I'm hospitalized (the better to stop mistakes), had gone home for a shower and change of clothes. I must have looked somewhat anxious when a nun passed by my door.

I do not know what drew her to me. I'm not Catholic, and although spiritual, I'm not very religious. I have not been given the faith my reverend namesakes had. She said very little, but she asked me why I was there. I explained briefly.

She looked at me and for some reason said, "You should not be alone." I indicated my wife would be back soon, and with that, she placed her hand over my heart and said a brief prayer. I had never felt such a surge of energy. It was overwhelmingly powerful. Explosive. I don't know what it was, but as a consequence I felt stronger and safer. That was over two decades ago, and I can still feel it. Then and now, it has caused me to re-examine what I know about the world, but the neuroscientist in me remains puzzled.

In The Dance I describe a similar energy I receive from another. There are clearly truths I am still trying to understand.