A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Open Heart

As you may recall from an earlier entry (“Cuddles and the Cardiac Catheterization”), I underwent a diagnostic procedure two weeks ago to find the reason for my shortness of breath and angina when I walk short distances. Basically, the doctors found that my heart is broken, not romantically broken by the thoughtless words or actions of some junior high school girl (for example), but actually broken and in need of repair. Thus, this time next week I shall be having open heart surgery to replace one of my valves and bypass one of my arteries.

I am naturally nervous about this procedure because they are, after all, futzing around with one of the major organs. The surgeon assured us that he has done hundreds of these operations and has only a 1% failure rate. Indeed, the local newspaper published an article about the failure rate for heart surgeries at many of the major Philadelphia area hospitals. The article stated that my hospital, Lankenau, has only a one-tenth of one percent failure rate. This has boosted my confidence level somewhat.

Coronary bypass is a very routine operation these days (or so everyone tells me) and it has come a long way from when it was still an experimental procedure. My sense of history compels me to note that my operation will happen nearly forty-four years to the day that one of my favorite comedians, Harpo Marx, had bypass surgery. Unfortunately, Harpo didn’t make it. Okay, bad example. Perhaps I would do better to ignore history and look forward to the future.

That future will see me with a new valve courtesy of a cow or a pig. I have a choice between these flesh parts, or a man-made part that will not wear out. The problem with the man-made valve is that I would be forced to take a dose of Coumadin every day for the rest of life to keep my blood from clotting on the valve. This blood thinner is very high maintenance: my levels would have to be checked frequently, I would have to watch what I eat (cranberries and dark leafy vegetables are verboten), and I would have to avoid drinking alcohol. I ask you: what’s the point of extending a life span if I couldn’t chug a brew now and then? I’m sure the thought has my German ancestors rolling in their graves.

So I’m leaning towards an animal valve, which prompts the question in my mind: will I become adverse to eating cow or pig flesh after the operation? If served a hamburger or a pork chop, will I stare at it in horror, start sobbing, and mutter “mother, mother,” over and over? Or will I drown it in Heinz ketchup without a second thought? Those of you who know me well already know the answer to this debate.

Once this operation is complete, I will become a member of “the zipper club”, which comprises open heart surgery survivors who sport a zipper-like scar on their chest for the remainder of their lives. I have been musing on the advantages of everyone having a zipper scar on their chest ever since the surgeon told me I needed this operation. This way a junior high school girl (for example) could, if confronted with the romantic overtures of a junior high school boy, just unzip the scar, rip the heart out of the poor fellow’s cardiac cavity, and stomp it to bits before his own eyes! Boy, if that doesn’t prepare him for the miserable disappointment that we call life, then I don’t know what will!

(EDITORS NOTE: Obviously, Mr. Gunther has some deep-rooted issues that he needs to work through...alone. We’ll leave him here for now, wallowing in his bitter...heart! Tee-hee!)



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