Walking is my ‘new’ have to do. Y’know, exercise the old heart, get the blood pumping and, no matter what, don’t drop dead. So I really like it when the sun’s out, the wind is mild and the temps are above 60. But today is none of those. Rain, wind and 33 degrees. There was a time when I laughed at rain, wind and 33. And snow too. Why I was able to leap tall snow drifts in a single bound. Braved the windiest winds and the rainiest rains like Super Duck. But now the feathers are gone as are the muscles. Oh I can still leap, but its just to get out of bed. And the only rains l fight now are in the shower. As for wind, well I mostly make my own. That’s the new me, Wimpy Man.
As part of my rehab I’m supposed to exercise. Til the docs say otherwise it’s pretty much just walking. So everyday I’m out there on the sidewalks and parking lots laying it on the line step by step. And at least once a day I walk for a minimum of 30 minutes. Occasionally I go for the gold and walk 35 minutes. But there are drawbacks to walking. Noooo, you say. Well grab some snacks, a candy bar or two, and sit back in your easy chair and I’ll tell it like it really is. When I start my walk it typically takes me a minute or two to get up to speed. But when I hit my stride and have shifted into fourth gear and I am blistering along at 1.5mph. Impressive I know, but…….. Two days ago a toddler just learning to walk left me in his dust. And yesterday a woman with a walker who must be at least 90 told me to move over because I was slowing her down. But none of that bothered because today I had my moment of triumph. An old man with a cane and I were neck and neck going around the sidewalk. After the first turn he slipped and fell and I breezed past him. Perhaps I should feel ashamed since I might have nudged his cane causing him to fall, but I don’t. I won. At the end I had an Olympic moment and awarded myself the Gold. Still I know there are many more difficult challenges ahead. I saw another one today, a 3 year old with a determined look in her eye. But I’m not afraid.
In the past month I’ve had two EKGs. And each time the readings said I was having a heart attack while the EKG was being taken. Hmmmm. I was feeling no pain or discomfort either time. After consulting with higher authorities the Docs decided my heart is coming up with a new standard and who knows what that might be (I don’t). So no worries. Which reminded be of a wall plaque my wife got me last year. It’s been hanging on the wall in my office/guest bedroom ever since. At the time she thought the ‘Abnormality is the Normality at this Locality’ fit me pretty well. And even more so now.
Ever since my ‘minor heart incident’ I have been trying to eat healthy. A good idea in theory. So keeping that in mind I decided to bake a sweet potato for dinner. I got a big one, set the oven to 400 degrees and baked that sucker for an hour. Not long enough, but I was hungry. Turns out a half baked sweet potato isn’t all that tasty. And later on I discovered that sweet potatoes and I don’t really see eye to eye on things. Later on was after 9PM and into the night. It was then that I became the western worlds largest supplier of ‘natural gas’. The situation got to the point where I was becoming an environmental hazard and the EPA had to be called in. People living within a half a mile of me had to evacuate their homes. But my wife stayed with me the whole time. True she had to wear a hazmat uniform and the EPA made her stay in a bunker like trailer about a 100 yards away; at least I think that was her, it was kinda hard to tell. But it all ended well and, hey, at least it wasn’t Valentine’s Day.
Today is my furst month’s anniversary since ‘All Heart’s Day’. And to celebrate I drank six Dr Peppers, ate three hamburgers with fries and finished off with a chocolate shake. Unfortunately that was between the hours of midnight and 7AM which just happened to be while I was sleeping. While awake is a totally different reality. Low sodium (try finding that anywhere), low fat and low carbs. Translation, learn to eat and drink stuff that you once did not consider to be part of any food group. So I’m adjusting to my my new diet. But I’m giving notice here and now, there will be no Tofu in my future.
I didn’t have what I thought were typical heart attach symptoms. No soreness around the jaw, no pain down the left arm, no elephant sitting on my chest. I did have some pain and discomfort in my chest true, but I’ve had heart burn and acid reflux that have felt much worse. So now I am very aware of anything to do with my heart. And I have found that any twinge or discomfort brings fear. Not your normal unease or everyday fear. Nope this is deep in the pit of your stomach, straight down through your intestines, right to your sphincter muscles fear. That kind of fear. And when that happens to me I have learned one other thing. That kind of fear is a great laxative. No two ways about it.
As my ship was slowly sinking into the hospital bed, family was rising to the occasion. Step son MM ie. the music man (he really is, I once saw him play 7 musical instruments with his left hand while writing a symphony with his right) took on the task of rescuing my truck from the mean streets of the city. He arranged for the tow truck, got it to the mechanic and handled the expenses. After that my bride arranged to get the last job I had been working on before the heart attack finished so I could get paid. She enlisted MM, Dr D and his son ET for the work. On the Saturday following my release form the hospital, she and they drove to the site, finished the painting (and did a very nice job of it), cleaned everything up and brought back all the tools. I was allowed to tag along, but only if I stayed seated the whole time and did nothing. Also my brother and his wife helped us out as did my wife’s work. My wife works for a newspaper, The Daily Planet (no, not really, newspaper yes, Daily Planet no). The owners and staff were very generous and kind to us.
And on top of all that, I believe we have been the recipients of a billion prayers. Thank you all. So no man really is an island, more like Rome, the place where a thousand roads lead to.
The stent was installed on Tuesday. What it replaced was my appetite. On Wednesday and Thursday I ate very little, just a little cereal. But by Friday I was hungry. So Friday afternoon DB asked me what I wanted and I said ‘Subway’. One of their healthier subs. My step son Dr D (he’s not really a doc, but as smart as any I’ve ever met), had offered to get me something so he went to get it. Well in between the ‘get me a sub’ and ‘here it is, enjoy’ the twisted finger of fate stepped in. First a new Doc and then a nurse who cheerfully informed me that they were going to be looking into both ends of my body with strange and wonderful devices. And that, sorry, you can’t have any food starting NOW and nothing to drink after midnight. Some stupid reason about food and drink tending to cloud and obscure the lens of what’s going to be up one end of me and down the other. The procedure was scheduled for between 1-3PM on Saturday. I told DB I thought it would be later just because it would mean I would have to wait longer to eat and drink. Turns out I was right. 5PM. But after. After the Doc came in said ‘Hey, your insides look great’ (actually what he said was ‘what a waste of time, there was nothing inside of you worth looking at’). I could eat. Dr D said he wanted the honor of getting me my first meal. So off to ‘Subway’ and this time for real. And here it is. My first real meal since Tuesday.
It was the best of days; it was the worst of days. Tuesday, January 7th. I had a heart attack. My big boy artery was 100% blocked. I didn’t know that when I went to work that morning. Feeling no pain and on to my job (back then I had a small construction business, my how things change) to remove and replace a section of a concrete driveway. Later in the afternoon my truck was breaking down and, as it turns out, so was I. As she frequently does my wife DB came to my rescue. She drove to where the truck and I where stranded, assisted me in trying and failing to fix the piece of junk, and then took me home. I told her a was feeling a little nauseous and after she dropped me off I spent the next hour admiring the toilet. When DB got home at 5 I was laying on the bathroom floor, pretty much exhausted. She asked if anything else hurt I told her my chest was though not alot. She immediately decided I was having a heart attack. She got me up and into the car after some real serious and loud language. And then it was off to the hospital and into the ER. DB told the people there what she believed was wrong and they took no time in wiring me up, stripping me down, inserting things in places I normally don’t expect them to be and rendering me unconscious. The next day I was awake and wearing the latest in hospital fashion (which was – I’ll show you my backside if you’ll show me yours or even if you won’t). I wouldn’t find out for many days what a real obnoxious, pain in everyone’s ass patient I was. But that’s for another day.