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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Serious As a Heart Attack

At 32, I was sedentary, a workaholic, a boozefish, overweight (obese according to the charts) and had only recently started trying to do something about my diet. The diet was pretty radical, actually. I had a general practitioner who wanted to put me on statins, and I wanted to try diet. She told me I wouldn't be able to move it more than 10 or 20 points with diet and I proved her wrong. They did a lipids workup after I turned up sort of, uh, dead on my Mom's lawn. June 28, 2002 by all rights should have been the second date on my tombstone—only 4% of people who fit my scenario survived at all back then (it's a little higher now thanks to the proliferation of AEDs).

That lipids workup, I forget exactly, but I think I shaved more like 70 points off my LDL in the four months leading up to my heart attack. Too little, too late, but maybe if I'd been an almost-vegan from my teens...

The day before we went to this Royals game, I'd gone into the cath lab to have more stents put in, or so I thought. That's a pretty freaky operation all by itself, but I'd had quite a bit of angina lately and an abnormal stress test. What I hadn't counted upon was that there could be a bunch of stuff that stents don't cover.

I've got one blockage that's too long to stent, another pair that are at the fork of an artery that makes it impossible, I'm told, to stent. Which means they propose to cannibalize veins from my leg and maybe my shoulder, split my sternum, stop my heart, and patch those veins onto my heart, then restart my heart and wake me up.

I'm told I'll cough a lot after, and I'll have to have a pillow with me to hold against my chest when I do so I don't pop my sternum back open. Did I mention I'm a squeamish person who has fainted at an anemia finger-prick test at the blood bank?

Walking into the game I was holding my groin where they went in with the cath. The dressing was still on it, and it felt like (and I know this was all psychological), it was holding my blood in but barely. Like it was liable to pop off any moment and I'd just bleed to death there in the stadium.

We had premium tickets and parking thanks to my boss, the guy who may be covering my job for upwards of six weeks after my bypass surgery. Lot M, which is right between the stadiums, directly by the gate which turns out to be directly by section 232 where our seats were. There are more expensive seats in the park, but not much better as far as seeing the action.

Corinna rode there with a kid from the neighborhood on our tandem bike, and Gallmeyer met us there, also by bike. Michael is ten and Gallmeyer is, I think, 38 or so, but it was a brilliant pairing because their maturities are astonishingly well-matched.

The game was quite good, a lousy first inning with our pitcher walking in runs and hitting batters, a mid-game grand slam that got us back into it, in it all the way to the last at bat in the ninth inning. We lost, but it could have been.

The between innings stuff, the air guitar contest, the kiss-camera, the sing along to a bad country song, that was the real entertainment. They don't even need to play the baseball game, it's not much to look at most of the time anyway.

Most importantly, I forgot about the plug holding my blood in, forgot the pending bypass surgery, the blockages that have, in hindsight, been warning me loudly for a while now. Instead of worrying about my recovery, or having a heart attack before I get that far, I managed to care about whether the Royals might actually escape with a win despite that abominable pitching start.

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