Congratulations! Your heart continues to beat – despite how much you’d like your heart to stop beating – now that the love of your life/year/month/week/(any shorter and I’d question your use of love) has chosen to separate from you/dissolve your union/unfriend you on Facebook.
But good news. You are not dead, no matter how badly you’d like to be dead and mourned and celebrated in a not-so-private service splashed all over Page 6. You can already see the headline can’t you? But you’re not dead. Yes, congratulations, you are not suffering from stress cardiomyopathy, also known as broken heart syndrome, so stop looking at that break-up as half-empty and look at your break-up as half-full. Repeat after me: I am not dead. I am not dead. I am not dead.
You heard/read the words: I no longer love you. Or, you are not healthy for me. Or, I’ve decided to join a monastery/convent/convert to a religion in which you do not believe/go gay. And since hearts don’t read, your heart heard the words: I no longer love you. Or, you are not healthy for me. Or, I’ve decided to join a monastery/convent/convert to a religion in which you do not believe/go gay – and, after, a surge of adrenaline overwhelmed your heart, effectively freezing the left ventricle of your heart and disrupting the flow of blood through your heart.
And then your heart kept beating its normal – albeit now wounded – beat. Congratulations. Because sometimes your heart will not keep beating its normal – albeit far more than wounded – beat.
Scott Sharkey, a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute, calls broken heart stress cardiomyopathy “a heart attack … triggered by stress rather than by a blocked artery,” and added that another way of looking at a broken heart is to consider the heart concussed; in other words, acute emotion or physical trauma can cause a concussion of the heart.
Let me interpret the medical jargon for you: That ache you feel may feel like a dull grind or like something is missing, maybe near your diaphragm, which makes eating impossible, or maybe inside your throat, which makes claiming to be OK impossible, or maybe elsewhere in your body, indicating that, along with your heart, you have lost a limb, an organ, or your future (the last is unlikely, since, congratulations, you are not dead).
But feel short of breath, chest pain, faint, and/or lose consciousness after you and the love of your life/year/month/week/(any shorter and I’d question your use of love) choose to separate/dissolve your union/unfriend each other on Facebook, and you maybe should dial 911. Is this an emergency? Yes, operator, this is an effing emergency.
Men, an extra congratulations to you, because you’re less likely to experience symptoms of broken heart syndrome. Some of you may, but the available medical literature shows middle aged and elderly women (women older than 60) are more likely to suffer from broken heart syndrome. (If you’re dumping a woman older than 60, you’re kind of a tool.)
Excessive drinking (meet my friends Jim, Jose, and Jack), promiscuity, or the latest diet and exercise fads cannot heal stress cardiomyopathy; only time (and do not interpret that as time to turn on Enya, because listening to Enya is certainly not going to help your broken heart beat normally again) will make your long-term prognosis excellent.
But some hearts are predisposed to scarring. Inside, though beating, our hearts become imperfect, limited in function and sensation. You are less willing to trust the next person who comes along promising to protect your heart. You are less likely to loan someone your heart, let alone give it, because you now realize how precious your heart is. It took a licking, and keeps on, well, you know.
Or your heart can be like most hearts and heal as if nothing happened to it. No scars. No limitations. Nothing to stop it from again leaping before looking and promising itself to the first person who looks good mostly, if not completely, naked. Some hearts are just fickle, which you now know, since the love of your life/year/month/week/(any shorter and I’d question your use of love) has chosen/or been forced to separate/dissolve your union/unfriend you on Facebook.