Ya Gotta Have Heart

My heart,, which savagely attacked me last week, forcing me to spend two days in the hospital. In the name of full disclosure, I suffered the heart attack on December 18, when I thought I was enduring some Hiroshima-grade heartburn. I lived through the agony for a week and then it finally subsided around New Year's Eve, when I began chuckling at my financial cleverness in robbing the Doctors Feelgoods of the world the cool two grand that an emergency room visit assuredly would have cost. But my satisfaction was short lived when my regular physician returned after New Years and I stopped by so he co prescribe me some Tums. Instead, he took an EKG and ordered me to visit the cardiologist in the neighboring building...now. The cardiologist took one look at the RKG print-out and ordered me to check myself into a hospital...now. Less than 24 hours later I was having a stent inserted into my weakened aorta and was being informed that almost everything that I enjoy doing in life was now strictly off the table. I got pretty depressed at that at first but then I remembered that the Chinese employ the same word for "crisis" as "opportunity" and I could easily use that philosophy in this situation. For instance, I had long pondered the idea of pursuing the Vegetarian lifestyle but felt held back because so many of the foods I love had as a primary ingredient something with a face. Since those food must not be forever denied to me, I can claim the reason is my sensitivity to God's creatures while you murdering bastards are committing genocide when you're gulping back your Big Macs and pepperoni pizzas. I won't lie and say that I'm completely adjusted to the idea of being a Heart Attack survivor but I'm facing some unavoidable lifestyle changes and I might as well just go ahead and accept them out of the gate. After all, I've been living with a broken heart for decades.

Harmony Sanchez, who visited me in the hospital the night I had my stent put in. I recounted to her the course of the angiogram step-by-step, which began with the technicians wheeling me into the operating theatre and explaining what was about to take place. "We're going to send a camera into your heart to determine the extent of the damage, " they kindly said. "We'll insert it into your left wrist and then send it up your arm so we can send it into your chest. But first, we're going to need to shave your groin."

I'll pause here to allow that last detail to sink in. "But, ummmm..." as I said as I reexamined the technician's faces, which now bore a distinct resemblance to some elderly guys who hung around my elementary school and would offer me candy if I followed them into a windowless van, "I thought you were going in through my wrist. Why exactly do you need to shave my groin?"

"If we have trouble getting in through your wrist," replied one of the technicians with a sinister grin, "we'll need to have your groin prepped as an alternative."

Since I didn't have a lot of alternatives at the point, I gritted my teeth and laid quietly as the tech went Brazilian on my bikini area. My concerns were probably for nothing as I was told afterwards that the procedure went flawlessly. I didn't have the nerve to inquire if anal soreness was a typical side effect of an angioplasty and I'm not going to ask now. Those people work damned hard at what they do and they deserve all the perks they can get.

Bro Joe, who went above and beyond the call of duty which everything he did for me between driving me from the cardiologist's office to the hospital and driving me from the hospital to home. I will spare you a blow-by-blow account of his do-goodery because I will be paying dearly for it over the next thirty years. Joe is one of those annoying health nuts who is obsessed with yoga classes and hiking and taking part in all manner of outdoor adventures to feed into his Peter Pan complex; activities which everyone he knows roundly mocks until they have a heart attack and realize that he was right all along. Joe has taken it as his personal mission to see me back to health by dragging me along to his various 10-K fun runs and spirits quests to put my ticker back in the pink. That's bad enough news for someone who spends 95% of his life with his ass parked on the couch, but I was further alarmed to learn that many of the more tree-hugging pursuits he is hell-bent on taking me to require the participants to be stark naked. I'm not sure if he was kidding about that last part because he did rake a certain sadistic glee in describing it to me. I'm prepared either way; my bikini zone has never been so perfectly groomed.

My beloved pug Winston. When work leaked out about my heart attack, I was inundated with messages all asking me the same thing: Who was taking care of Winston? The answer of course was my close friend, annoying yenta Misty LaRue. As soon as I was informed that I had to go to the hospital, I immediately called Ms. LaRue to take charge of my little pug and she sprang into action, making a beeline to my lavish estate to pick the fat little dude up. As soon as he walked into her house, the first thing he did was mark his territory by taking a Winston-sized dump on her hardwood floors. "I eventually accepted the idea that Winston thinks of my house as a toilet," Ms. LaRue reported to me as I lay in the hospital, giving one of the few self-satisfied chuckles I enjoyed during my stay. Winston is continuing his vacation at Casa LaRue while I'm on the mend, and I hope that he takes full advantage of the amenities there during his stay. I understand that there's still about three square feet of flooring that he hasn't defiled.

You people, who inundated me with so many e-mails, text messages, personal messages, Facebook posts and phone call when you found out about my situation that my phone nearly had a heart attack of its own. I was actually quite moved over the show of concern that everyone displayed over my ailment and I'm grateful to each and every one of you who took the time to reach out to me to about my progress. The sheer volume of inquiries made me unable to respond to each message as thoroughly as I would have liked (my main focus being, at that point, on that fact that my freakin' heart had shut down on me) but I want you to know that each and every positive vibe floated in my direction did me a world of good. My heart may be a little worse-for-wear, but it's nice to know that it will never, ever be empty.