It has been a long road my friends that has brought me to this low state. The time had come, the medicine has been prescribed, the arteries, soon to be unclogged were ready to go. The Yale Catherization lab was waiting, the valet parking were at the stand by. It was May 14th and it was the day I was getting stents placed in my arteries. Now for those who have followed this story with interest, or are just looking for something to read, a quick review: Stress test not good, revealed heart damage from a silent heart attack, angiogram not good, revealed blocked arteries, PET scan confirmed damage. It was time for stents. Now a stent is made of metal (mesh in The UK) that is threaded through my arteries and then blown up with a small balloon and placed in the artery, opening it up and restoring blood flow. The stent could almost be looked at as artery scaffolding, ready to open up the artery and keep it open. Now due to circumstances beyond my control I was being dropped off at Yale to face this latest trial alone. But I'm a big boy and I could handle it, at least once I stop crying. Off to the second floor and onto the waiting area. There is no reason to tell you I was nervous, but yeh, I had already named people to take ownership of my guitars and that if I pass, my hair would be donated to all those bald people who need it the most.
As I walked towards the waiting area, a young woman was standing behind a portable computer on a stand. As I walked by she called my name.
"Um, yeh. . . it's me."
"Ok Stephen, you are all checked in, it says here you will be staying the night."
"What? I wasn't aware of that." I said with real fear in my eyes.
And she says, now this is classic, she says to me,
"Well, maybe they know something you and I don't."
Ok then. So I take a deep breath and sit in the lobby. Within minutes they call me. I follow a nurse to what is known as the "prep/holding" area. It is here they will have me undress, throw on a large "johnny coat" with my ass sticking out. I would then lay on the gurney, an IV line would be started, vitals taken, questions asked. I was right on schedule it seemed and at 1045am, I was wheeled into the Cath lab. There would be no turning back, there would be no deals made with God, or whoever is up there. It was go time. I was sedated, always an enjoyable state, and it was time. Out of the gurney I went and jumped up onto the long ironing board table. My cardiologist walked over to me and looked at me.
"Ok Stephen we are going in through the left femoral artery and it'll be done before you know it."
Other people introduced themselves to me, offering a handshake here, a smile there. I was hooked up to various beeping machines, sticky tape holding leads that would monitor all sorts of things. The giant TV screen was then moved to my left. I would be watching everything. So there on the giant TV screen was. . . . . well. . . lot's of beating things all in grey. These were my arteries and various vessels. As I lay there wondering what was being done a voice from above called to me:
"Stephen," said Dr Cordido, "We're done, everything went great. Here is your prescription for your blood thinner." And then they wheeled me off, back to the holding area where I would wait for almost 4 hours on my back as a room on the Cardiac Care Floor would be ready. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. Whilst I was waiting they did feed me. The seafood salad on a croissant was amazing. The orange. . . more orangy than ever. Every so often the nurse, Debbi would look over at me
"Ok, the room is ready, soon as we get the transporter we'll bring you up."
So in about another hour I was finally in my room, a semi-private room, with another partient, Todd. Todd was about 50 or so as well as 7 feet tall. So the two heart patients, laying still on our backs, not allowed to get up or walk, quietly waiting for something to happen there on floor 5-2, room 608B.
The worst was over, other than me living a heart healthy life. But I had a TV with a remote and a headset so as not to bother Todd. Finally my wife arrived after a long day of work and school and sat next to me telling me about the day. My back was hurting like nothing ever before. . . they gave me morphine. . I felt wam and fuzzy. I slept.
When all was said and done, I was up and walking. I am home now, under various restrictions for the next five days, no bending, crouching, lifting or moving anything over 10lbs. I am homebound and watching as everyone around me does various things. But I have to lay there, watching every movie on Netflix. As for how I feel? Do I feel like I could run a marathon, well, even when I was 18 I never felt that way. I feel good, with more energy and my heart is beating soundly. I am taking blood thinners for the next six months and I even have a tiny bottle of nitroglycerin pills, to place under my tongue in case God forbid I have chest pains.
So what have I learned during these trying times? I have learned that I led a life of sloth, gluttony and whatever stupid sins are out there and that it was without a doubt, the wrong way to live. I prayed to a God that never once answered me or gave me any comfort in the past. I found out who my real friends where and who were the moronic selfish cretins. I saw my life in a new light. Not a totally new light, but with a different outlook. Do I believe God saved me? No, the doctors did. Did I see my life flash before my eyes? No, but thank God for that because I'd have to sit through the Ice Capades again. I looked at my life to see where I stood in the big scheme of things. I realized I am but a small little speck of dust in a giant universe where my living or dying wouldn't change a thing. Here are the things I do know, the only concrete things in the world: I will never smoke cigarettes again. I will never let my demons control my life. I will never deep fry anything again, even delicious Kung Po Cat. No sugar will touch my lips unless they are the sweet lips of my wife. I will cook meals for my family in the healthiest ways I know how. i will lose my weight and I will live.I will play Frisbee again with my dog. I will also cherish my family and the ones I love and those that love me. Everything else is meaningless if I did not have my family beside me.
I would also like to thank Dr. Marian Vulpe and Dr. Richard Cardido. I would like to thank the staff at Yale New Haven Hospital. I would especially like to thank the nurses because I have no clue how two of you lifted me and slid me into bed. Look, I realize I have a long way to go to come back to good health. My heart will always have a damaged portion, that will never change.But I will work to make my heart stronger.I will love more, hate less. But for the first time in a long time I realize that my once broken heart is no longer broken but simply filled with love and admiration of life and all it has to offer. I don't want to miss a thing that life has in store for me.
A friend I once knew told me something soon after the death of her young nephew and it was really the smartest thing this person ever said:
"Everything happens for a reason. Life is fleeting and we need to hold onto the ones that truely matter in this world.They will be the only ones there for you. They will always be part of your life, forever"
Some friends are your friends for a reason, they are there for you, through the good and the bad, through lifes trying times and not so trying times. These friends, along with your family will be in your life forever, no matter what. And those others, well, some people are in your past for a reason and that's where they belong. I have many thoughts in my head, many ideas for songs and stories and poems. Of course, how much have I really changed? I still hate Republicans, who would have had me die if I couldn't afford insurance, but that's a topic for another day.
And so now I complete my tale of The Cardiac Kid and will soon be back to praising and trashing North Haven and it's citizens once again. Thank you all, I'll be here all week, try the veal and tip your waitresses.