But three or four weeks ago I went to see my primary care physician. Because I live in Sinus City (Cincinnati area), I thought the irritation in my bronchial tubes was from sinus drip, and it was. I had a lung infection very much like pneumonia. But it was the heartburn that made my doctor run an EKG, and the results proved enough variation from the previous one for him to request an echo stress test.
Long story made short, my body passed with flying colors. 3.5 miles per hour up a 14% grade, no problem, because I am ridiculously fit. My heart, however, was looking for help.
What I had been feeling for more than a year, a little heaviness in my chest, a raw disquieting feeling and a heart beating harder than I thought it should, were symptoms of a probable calamity.
A week ago, while walking a friend's dog, there was a slightly more intense chest discomfort, a burning really, that caused my doctor to say, "Go to the emergency room." I did, and for the rest of a long sleepless night the staff poked and pushed, drew quarts of blood, ran this test and that and put a needle in my left arm to drip a blood thinner through a pump that whirred and clicked every 90 or so seconds.
After nothing to eat or drink for more than thirteen hours, a heart catheterization procedure to implant a stent was unsuccessful. Why? Because I have three blockages: one of 100% that has already by-passed naturally, one of 95% and one of 80%. I am a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen.
So on Tuesday of this week I will have open-heart surgery. It is a terrible thing, four hours or more in length. My sternum will be split and an artery from my leg will be used to patch one of the damaged arteries and there is more, but no need to go on and on with gory details. I will be plugged into a heart-lung machine and could wake with "pump-brain" which if you have had cancer is supposed to be very similar to "chemo-brain." Six hours in recovery, 24 hours in ICU and then the fun begins. Stand up, sit down, cough and hug this heart-shaped pillow which is used as a splint to keep you from blowing out your sternum, now held together with wire.
There will be 5 or 6 days in the hospital, followed by cardio-rehab and a great deal of pain. And all the while my wife Carol will be there and when she goes home there are the cats to feed; the house to keep up, horses to be picked up after, fed and groomed and grass to cut. All of these things and then I crawl through the door, a semi-invalid, who is not allowed to do ANYTHING!
Even though I am the one with a problem, the real victim in this play is my wife, the love of my life. You know, the one who has stood by me when I was a childish asshole, comforted me through tragedies, job disruptions and only God knows what else she has quietly endured.
So if you should read this and have a spare prayer or two, say one for both of us, we'll need it and we thank you for your thoughts.
Copyright June 19,2016 by Loren R. Schumacher
I want to mention that while I am mending I will be writing. I have parts of three stories written about this year's Triple Crown (better late than never), a post on the 2016 Road To The Horse and a story about a nationally ranked competitor in Western Pleasure and other disciplines. It may be a while until the next post, but there will be a next post. Thanks for reading my blog.
Title taken from an old Herman's Hermits song, Can't You Hear My Heart Beat?