Broken Heart Syndrome

the Heart“There must have been moments…when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”

—-The Great Gatsby, by F.Scott Fitzgerald

Dying for love—it’s a common theme that runs through music, novels and movies. We find the characters romantic and connect with them. There is a real condition where people can die of a broken heart–it’s called takotsubo cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome or broken heart syndrome. It’s brought on by a sudden release of stress hormones at very high levels after a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one. The heart literally stops pumping properly, while usually reversible people can die from the condition. I’m a nurse on a Cardiac ICU and we recently took care of a man with this syndrome, he had to be placed on an LVAD machine, a device to do the pumping or work of his heart until it healed. He refused to reveal the traumatic event, so we were all left to guess what horror he had experienced to break his heart.

I, too, have died of a broken heart. The difference being that mine is a long and slow death, and definitely not romantic. Mine isn’t from one large, sudden and dramatic trauma…just a long series of wounds. Sadly, there’s no machine for me to put my heart on until it heals.

I became numb.
I became frozen.

Keeping a piece of myself removed and hidden, protecting myself from the fatal blow I know is coming. To let go and fall, really fall, it seems like a betrayal or a letting go of the illusion, the fairy tale.

Oh but I am weary of this self-isolation. And then I realize I do have a machine to hook up to my heart to both love me and love for me, while my heart heals. I feel the thaw as God’s love heals my heart. For truly, I love because HE loves.