OK, this is going to sound kind of gross, but bear with me. I dissected a sheep heart this weekend. It was a thing of beauty, pink-red and glistening, with only a small amount of fat coating the outside of the atria (the upper chambers of the heart, where blood enters). After carefully studying the placement of the veins and arteries (and agreeing on which was which), we aligned this gorgeous thing so we could cut through it top to bottom and side to side, exposing all four chambers to view.
My lab partner was equally appreciative, but as we finished our requisite identifications and continued slicing into the heart to really check it out, she said “I don’t think I’ll be eating meat tonight.”
“I’m having steak tonight,” I said. “Rib eye.” I am very clear on where the meat I eat comes from. I know an animal died to put that steak on my plate, and I know by name the people who raised that animal on nice pasture. If I could dissect a sheep eyeball and still put contact lenses in my eyes, I could dissect the heart muscle and still eat the muscles commonly seen on the dinner plate.
Anyway, my point is that the heart is a thing of beauty, but more than that it is a workhorse. It has the sole responsibility of pumping, pumping, pumping blood through our vessels so that all bits of tissue in our bodies get nourished with the nutrients and oxygen they need. And how do we thank the mighty heart for its efforts? We smoke, drink, eat crappy junk food, watch TV instead of exercising, etcetera, etcetera.
Yes, I know that not all people do all of those bad things to their hearts (and if you’re reading this right now you’re probably on the healthier side of the continuum), but I think every one of us could probably do a little better than they’re doing right now. I know I can.
I’m guessing that sheep was probably pretty young when it was slaughtered, so it’s no wonder its heart was a specimen of muscled perfection, but no matter where any one of us is in our lives, no matter how healthy we’ve been leading up to this moment, we can take steps to make our future a heart-healthier one. This isn’t about looking good, or fitting into a smaller size…it’s about LIFE!
You only get one heart. Show it some respect.
Photo: © Yoyo1972 | Dreamstime.com