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

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


One year ago today, I received a new valve and, to quote an old cliché, a new lease on life. This first year with one quarter of a new heart went fast. I’ve had several check-ups with my primary care physician, my cardiologist, and my cardiac surgeon and all are happy with my progress and the condition of the valve. They would be happier if I lost forty pounds or so, but that will be my project for the coming year.

The experience left many interesting memories. For example, there were the first few days after my surgery when they would only allow me to take liquids through a tube in my arm. Apparently the body is prone to retain water — a lot of it — after major surgery. In my case, I gained thirteen pounds, but a regimen of diuretics took care of the problem over the course of a few days. It was a very uncomfortable few days for more than one reason.

The staff at Lankneau watched the situation carefully. When they were convinced that I was passing as much liquid out as I was taking in, they allowed me to drink through my mouth again. In the meantime, I felt very strange. At one end, the diuretics made my bladder feel perpetually full, while at the other end my mouth was dry like sand dunes in the Sahara, and my lips weighted down like two slabs of granite. It was an odd feeling to say the least.

After a day or so, I was able to take liquids with a small sponge rubbed over a cup of crushed ice. I remember thinking that this little sponge was the greatest invention ever! I was still hurting, but my mouth felt water again. It was heaven! I was in love again! I wanted to take that little sponge and run away with it! Then, the next day, they gave me a full glass of water, and the sponge was quickly forgotten. I know, typical male, but that’s the way love goes sometimes.

Then there were a couple of close calls. One happened as they were putting me back into bed after my first trip off my back. One moment I’m leaning back towards the mattress, and the next minute I remember seeing a nurse feeling my ankles and saying over and over, “I can’t find a pulse! I can’t find a pulse!” The other nurse helping me said something about nearly losing me, but I didn’t bother to ask them what happened. I felt then as I do today: whatever the answer would’ve been was more information than I ever wanted to know.

Another close call happened when I awoke to find the nurse, the nurse supervisor, the doctor on duty and someone who, for all I know, just happened to wander in from the street at that moment, hovering over my bed. This reason for this conference in the middle of the night was that my blood sugar was at 40. At that point, the nurse went out for a cup of juice and graham crackers. I don’t remember feeling any worse at this particular moment since I was still flat on my back, but hey, if they wanted to treat me to a midnight snack why should I complain.

I went into this whole experience with very few expectations: either I would recover or this was meant to be the end of my life. I could very well have left life with the ceiling of the operating suite being the last thing I would see, and someone telling me, “We’re putting a catheter in your neck now,” the last sound I would hear.

God had other ideas.

It was not my time. I still have a part to play on the great stage of humanity. I still have a purpose to fulfill.

I continue to recover and fulfill my purpose. I know I haven’t gotten this far by myself. I’ve had so much good support from many people — my family, my friends, and my co-workers. I am grateful to have all of them in my now extended life, but most importantly I should thank Anne Marie, my mom, my cats, and my doctors.

All of you have given me many wonderful special blessings in the past year. Let’s hope these blessings will continue for many years to come.

(Thank you for reading. Please remember that sometimes success is nothing more than waking up each morning and realizing that you’ve earned the right to live another day to do good in the world.)


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