Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
Well, it’s been a most unusual week on my planet. On Tuesday, I went to my doctor about some recurring chest pain I’d been having. He gave me an EKG and a complete physical. He told me that there had been some changes since my last EKG (in 1985), and then asked me something I greatly hope that not one of you ever gets asked. He asked me, who was my favorite cardiologist?
I allowed as how I didn’t know one cardiologist, and I’d never given the question a moment’s thought.
So I said that my father-in-law, who is 85, had a cardiologist I’d never met. I’d take his. My doc said go. That was Tuesday
Early Wednesday morning, I found myself in the cardiologist’s office. He turned out to be like my doctor, warm and informative. His assistant hooked me up to another more complex EKG machine. Then they gave me an “echocardiogram”, that was fascinating. I could see my heart beating, and watch the valves open and close … astounding.
However, when the cardiologist read the EKG and echocardiogram charts, he told me that I’d suffered a heart attack. He said it was an inferior myocardial infarction. Inferior? Really? I have a heart attack, and it’s second-rate?
He made an appointment with the surgeons for the next morning. He said said they would thread a tube through my veins into my heart, release some dye, and take pictures to see exactly what was going on.
But there was more. He said they did the whole thing in one go—after the dye test, if the plumbing was clogged, they’d likely put in a stent.
He also said that if it was really bad, they’d cut me open right there and and do bypass surgery … dangalang, that’s not the kind of thing a man wants to hear, and certainly not before 10 AM. He gave me some nitroglycerine pills to take home with me … that was Wednesday.
Thursday I checked in to the cardio unit at the local hospital, accompanied as usual by my gorgeous ex-fiancee, who is a Family Nurse Practitioner and my main medical squeeze. First thing, they shucked me out of my clothes and had me put on one of those hospital gowns, the kind I call “fundamentally drafty” because the draft is on … anyhow, the nurse was asking me all these questions and came to “Are you taking any medications on a regular basis?” I said no … she said “Really? We hardly ever see anyone in here who isn’t taking some regular medication”.
“Not me,” sez I, “not even aspirin.”
She looked at me with a wry smile and said matter-of-factly “Well … that’s over.”
The surgeon came in, again a warm and encouraging man. He said if they could put the catheter in through my arm and I had to get a stent, I could go home that day. But if they went in through the groin, I’d have to stay overnight.
“OK,” I said, I was only a pawn in the game at that point.
So they took me away to the Operating Room, and I woke up with a stent in my heart. They put it in through the arm, so that same day I came home. That was Thursday.
The whole crazy sequence of events has been relatively painless, except for my arm where they put in the catheter. That still aches, but that’s minor. And I’m enjoined from pounding nails or lifing anything heavy or doing anything strenuous for a week.
So no condolences or the like are necessary. I count myself among the most fortunate of men. Heck, since I can’t work at house building, I’m free to do more research and writing, what’s not to like? …
What do I take from all of this?
Well, it sure was great to wake up after going under. And it is always good to be reminded of my mortality. It let me know that I need to keep the pedal pressed firmly to the floorboard, and that I need to produce during my days, for the night is assuredly headed my way, wherein no man can produce …
Finally, it is very strange to think that I have a piece of metal mesh in my heart … first step to being a cyborg?
I go back to see my new favorite cardiologist on Friday.
My best to everyone,