July/Aug 2019 • Vol. XLI No. 4 Nonfiction |

Two Hearts

My heart is inflamed. It demands to be known, felt, sitting heavy in my chest, making it hard to breathe. The pain is central, right between my breasts, and it haunts me all day, a constant grieving. It is emphatic, specific: a tightness I try to push on, my fingers on my breastbone but cannot ease. It grips me like worry, like terror, like heartbreak. It’s from a virus, the doctor tells me. This can happen: a virus in your throat can run its course and seemingly be vanquished, but instead, it hides out, secreting itself somewhere else in your body, looking for purchase. And there it blooms, in the lining of your heart. Pericarditis, the heart lining inflamed, fighting, aching. It feels like a heart attack, right down to the pressure on your chest and the pain sometimes running down your arm, and the shortness of breath, but it is not a heart attack. My brain doesn’t know this. My brain hears these frantic calls from my heart and sounds the alarm. The panic makes it worse; th

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Andrea J. Buchanan is a New York Times best-selling author whose latest book is The Beginning of Everything (Pegasus, April 2018). She lives with her family in Philadelphia.

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My heart is inflamed. It demands to be known, felt, sitting heavy in my chest, making it hard to breathe. The pain is central, right between my breasts, and it […]

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