The Importance of an Enlarged Heart

Mitch Schneider
September 14, 2019

The images and feelings are burnt into my brain and have scarred my heart. They are a part of my psyche: an integral part of who I am.

It started with my father’s post cardiac bypass surgery and his subsequent battle with MRSA:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. And, it continued through ten months of hell at three different hospitals and included a sternotomy and pectoral muscle flap.

Watching someone battle both the infection and the damage left in its wake would be enough to impact anyone. But it isn’t the central theme of this post.

This post is about what we are confronted with every day and our failure and/or reluctance to seeit. And, while spending so much time in three different hospitals — And, what we witnessed there —are a part of what prompted this post. It’s just a small part of the whole.

When you are parked in a hospital room for days at a time you notice things. Things that go beyond what is happening in your room alone. One of those things is the startling number of patients who have no one. No one to be with them at all! The number of patients who are for all intent and purpose invisible and therefore non-existent!

I know a little about isolation and how important community is to your recovery after my transplant experience. Even if it is a community of only one. And, yet we became aware of countless other transplant patients who were alone as well.

It is no different with the homeless we see sleeping on the street or encamped under a freeway overpass. Human beings we no longer see. Or, the survivors of a natural disaster too far away for us to think about or relate.

Every time this happens our hearts atrophy just a little. Our empathy and compassion are diminished, and our worlds become smaller. While what we really need is to enlarge our hearts. Not only to see more. But to do more about what we see.

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