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The Cardiac Kid Smiles For The Camera

The Cardiac Kid is now Radioactive Man!

I love pictures. I love to look at the memories and the smiles that many pictures hold. They're important to our lives and despite me busting my wifes stones when she takes pictures of food that looks like things, I get it now. I understand why. Every event in our lives is captured as a moment in time that will never come again.

As many who follow me know, I have a little heart problem. And the other day inside the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale I went to have a picture of my heart taken. No one said cheese though and the pictures that came from this would direct the next course of action.  Of course I had to get into the hospital first.  My father and I drove there and against my many protests he parked about 37 miles away in the Air Rights garage.  It appears $10 for the valet was not gonna happen. I was concerned not for me, I was concerned for my 76 year old father and his reconstructed knees. As I crossed over in the Skyway towards the hospital, I had to stop, check on my dad.  We eventuallty made it though and soon I was sitting in the waiting area of the Diagnostic Imaging center, with my little id band around my wrist I filled out the usual questions that I have memorized now

List all your medications

are you diabetic

do you have a metal plate in your damn head?

So there I sat as I thought I overheard my name. I looked up and a nurse was talking about "this patient who checked in, but I can't find him"    so, I stood up and told her who I was. Never did I see anyone so relieved. 

"My name is Denise and do you know anything about the PET Test?"

I told her that I read some things and that a friend who's been here  told me a little bit, but it's like a MRI right?   Denise told me that they would be checking my blood sugar as the contrast radioactive-me turning into Spiderman-dye clings to the sugar molecules in my blood.

I sat in a small room where there was this reclining chair with little trays on either side.  Then Denise the nurse pulled out a box with what I knew was a test kit for my blood sugar. And then she placed a small bottle of redish liquid next to me.

"This is glucose for you to drink. I will check your blood sugar, then I will bring it up and then allow it to circulate. We will then take some pictures of your heart and then you wil come back here where I will give you some insulin to lower the blood sugar. When it's come down to about 145 we will inject the dye, have you sit for another hour and then get us some great pictures of your heart."  Wow was all I could think of.   And so she gave me six shots of this Kool-Aid tasting liquid, a copy of Time magazine and off she went.

Now I need to give a shout out to anyone who might be a diabetic, because every ten minutes Denise would return, prick my fingers, squeeze out some blood and test my blood. And not being a diabetic I was having a new found respect for all of those who have to go through this every day so they well, you know. . don't die. Every ten minutes, a different finger.  But complaining is something I won't do.

Now, let's move up a few hours or so and I have since taken my first set of pictures and was now just waiting for my blood sugar to drop so Denise can inject me with the dye.

"Excellent! 145."  she says and leaves the room. She then returns carrying what looked like a small metalic cone shaped thing, with a cylinder and a handle. That radioactive sticker we all know was all over this odd device. I watched as Denise unscrewed the top, I thought it was like she was gonna disarm a nuclear warhead. And so once unscrewed what looked like a needle was inside. She then connected it up to my IV and there I sat, with my old Time magazine. Waiting.

As I sat there, I had the door open and watched as people were wheeled past me. It was like when you're in a doctors office and you peer over your copy of Good Housekeeping and wonder to yourself,

"I wonder what he has. Man, look at her!  I've never seen skin that color before."

Various people were wheeled past me, some had families behind them, others had just the orderly pushing em down the hall, their charts between their legs, and all had the look of sadness tinged with a small amount of hope. Everyone looked so tired, so exhausted. Everyone looked like they had been fighting some unseen force. I looked away. I wanted the door closed.

The test now over, pictures in the giant machine that tells me to breath were all over. Terry or Dennis or Derek emerges from the shadows to tell me they got some great pictures. So Denise showed up and I was back in the little room with the recliner and the Time magazine. I had insulin injected and once again, every ten minutes the blood was checked. When it was back to normal I would be able to leave. Now, the thing I've not talked about was that I had to fast for this test and at this point had not eaten for close to 16 hours. Now, you add that fact with the fact that my blood sugar was sent up then down and down again, you can imagine how loopy I was. Well, more loopy than usual.  They gave me graham crackers with peanut butter and was advised that I really need to get some real food into me since the insulin would be still working for about two more hours.   I got up and sort of rambled down the halls, into the elevator, debit card at the ready, searching for an ATM so I could go to the cafeteria. . which of course was now closed.

"Damn you!"  I muttered to no one. Well, at least there was the gift shop. So after downing a seven foot Snickers, I was off back home.  The following day I would meet with Dr. Vulpe who would tell me what was what.

The what is this: On May 14th they will be placing a stent inside one of my semi clogged arteries restoring blood flow to my heart.

"Now, the damage to the heart was what we expected. Now along with you cutting back on all the risk factors, doing what you're doing, losing the weight you will be able to play frisbee again.  The rest of your heart muscle is viable and strong and that will in time take over and compensate for the dead muscle."

So there you go. Just like that, The Cardiac Kid will soon have blood flowing to his heart.   I am scared but hopeful and somewhat happy, if you can believe that. I have already dropped 18lbs, cigarettes are no longer in my life and I'm ready to start the next chapter in my life. I plan to be here for my children and for my wife who I love despite her fascination with food that looks like things.

I know what I've done to myself over these past 30 plus years or so. I beat the living hell out of my body with cigarettes, drugs( in college of course)bad food, mountains of McDonalds, gallons of Coke and Pespi. Everything I did was opposite of how to live a good life. I am the master of my own fate, and my own life. Change will come, of that I have no doubt. I will be able to play frisbee once again

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Curt May 04, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Best of luck!! The hard part is the unknown, and at least you know what the problem is and how they intend to fix it. Keep up the good work, and let me know when you want to go for a bike ride, I'll be happy to ride with you!

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