Today, Joe and I drive to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. He’s scheduled to undergo a five-hour series of nuclear imaging tests to see what’s going on in his great heart. We arrive at the Nuclear Medicine department at 6:45 am, and soon, he’s given an intravenous injection of radiochemicals that will allow the great Siemens machine to capture images of the soft tissues of his heart and arteries. This sophisticated technology will allow his cardiologist to make an accurate diagnosis of what is causing the intermittent bouts of pressure in his chest and arms that he has been experiencing recently.
The Siemens machine, painted a soothing aquamarine, consists of a large, circular drum, and a sliding bed that enters, exits, and re-enters the circular chamber as the cycle proceeds. The nuclear “arms” of the machine revolve around him, taking images of his heart. No human eye, unassisted, could possibly see this!
Beside the nuclear chamber, shielded by heavy glass from excessive x-ray exposure, there’s a small command and observation post. There, a beautiful Asian technician monitors the results of the imaging as they flash by on her computer screen.
In the room with Joe, where I am allowed to remain for a while, it is quiet. Only the oddly comforting sound of the machine at work, a kind of rhythmic, pulsing noise, steady and tireless, breaks the silence. The machine checks every angle of his heart for blockages. Joe, cocooned in blankets, monitors attached to his chest, seems to have retreated deep into himself. He appears to be sleeping. Yet, he wants me with him. I sense a strong thread connecting us. We are on the table together. My heart beats with his, encouraging it. I send him my calm, my belief in his strength and resilience, in the possibility of healing. I send him my faithful love.
What a miracle this machine is! It sees with the eyes of God, who knit us together in our mother’s womb. Nothing is hidden from it. Truly, we are wonderfully and fearfully made. And I am filled with hope.