“A New Lease on Life”

“Opening minds and angravating liberals since 2001”

“I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.”

Genesis 3:19  John 3:16


My Friends and Fellow Alums:

“YOU can all go to hell.” 

Yup. That is what we were told one day.

In church.

In the sermon.

True story.

Father Tony is one of my favorite priests and he does the Mass we go to each week. He is a brilliant man and a great priest.  He is knowledgable in the classics and knows the original languages of the Epistles and Gospels and is very good at explaining passages that do not seem to make sense and even amplifies on those that do.

Father Tony is a gentleman who recently celebrated one the birthdays in the 70’s range. He is a tall fellow and very affable and approachable.  And I never met a priest who was more self-deprecating than he. If we were Jewish, I would call him a “mensch.” Oy!

One day, after the Gospel in preparation for the sermon, he kinda walks to the transept without a word, gets to the middle, effects a smile and says “You can all go to hell!”

Half the congregation laughed and the other half gasped. And we waited a few pregnant moments for the explanation.

And he did not disappoint.

He looked at us in all earnestness with the book of scriptures in his hand and he said: “It is true, you can all go to hell. It says it right here, and thumbing some pages, and here and so on.  But the great news is that you don’t HAVE to go to hell. It says how that can happen here and here and here.”

You get the point.

What does that have to do with today’s issue?

Not a dern thing.

But, last month when I wrote this, the inflautus for this gave me an opening line.  And as you know my mental dot connecting is not linear, Father Tony’s words rang in my ear.

The way it was SUPPOSED to start (and continue) is:

You should not be reading this.

No it is true.

And, no, it has nothing to do with content, verbiage, 1st Amendment or anything else.

I should be dead.

And like my pal Father Tony recently celebrated a birthday, today is sort of a birthday for me.

About this time last year I was in the worse physical shape of my life.  I was 293 pounds and while my 6-5 frame can handle that, most of that extra baggage was in the belly.  I ate poorly.  I went through at least one pizza pie a week and a few bacon sandwiches was no big deal. And I salted everything, even Mac and Cheese.  Mexican food?  Mas Gustso! Chinese Food?  Xie! Xie!  There were very few beers I did not love and fewer days that I did not have a few. Yet, I did not have high blood pressure and my cholesterol was rather low.  But I also have COPD and I blamed that for a lot of things which were affecting me.

I could not take a shower without taking a rest as just washing my hair (which is high-and-tight for the most part) tired me.  Even walking to the car was a chore.  I had to rest once I got to the front door.  Trudge to the car thirty feet away and then rest again as the car warmed up.

I thought it was just COPD getting worse but my regular doctor suspected something else and referred me to a cardiologist. I saw Jim, my now cardio guy on Wednesday. He sensed there was something wrong but not sure exactly what as my EKG was normal.  (My EEG, well, that is another story for another day…)

So he scheduled a stress test for that Friday and told me to go home and rest until then. Bright and early Friday morning, we get to the office and a few hours later after all the tests he tells me that he is scheduling an angiogram for the following Monday.

There was nothing out of the ordinary but he sensed despite no evidence of a problem there was something going on.  And, who am I to argue, he was the doc.

He explained the procedure and that if they found something they should be able to either ablate it and/or put in stents. If it was real bad they would have to operate and if they found nothing he said that he would be real surprised. But his thought was this would take care of my problems.

As we are getting ready to leave he said that if I felt poorly this afternoon to come back to the office.  He added if I felt badly tonight or over the weekend to go to the hospital. He said the worst that would happen in that case would be that I would be early for Monday’s procedure.

Went home, later on had dinner, prolly pizza and chianti as usual, then sat down to watch the Yankees after the meal. It was a nice night and the missus was in and out and going to the neighbors who were sitting outside.  After a bit I felt a tightness in my chest. I lied to myself that it was agita.  (I never get heartburn so I knew that was not true.) When it did not go away, I thought it was because I was sitting too long, then that I was dehydrated then every other excuse in the book except the truth and I knew what it was.

Hoping against hope that it would go away I bided my time as the pain and tightness increased.  Finally at about ten o’clock the missus came in and I walked to the kitchen and said I think I should go to the hospital.  She said that she will call 9-1-1.  I said by the time they get here we can be half way to the hospital.

We roll up to the ER of the hospital, a very few minutes later a wheel chair appears, I am wheeled to reception. They take some vitals and an EGK and the next thing I know I am admitted.  An IV started and meds given.

A few hours later the attending physician comes for a little visit. She says I had an “event.”

“Event?” I say, then ask if that is anything like a heart attack.  She says, well, we could call it an “episode.”

“Episode?” I say, then ask again if THAT is anything like a heart attack.

She they do not use that term. So I said, “If there were no such words as “event” and “episode”, what would one call this?

Well, she finally cracks and says “In the old days, yes, we would call it a heart attack but back then we did not have the technology we have today.  So to assuage any fears and to assure that in almost all cases like yours there will be a favorable outcome.”

So, I am put in a room with a roomie not of my choice.  I tried to make the best of my forced vacation and did my best to keep the doctors, nurses, orderlies or anyone else amused.  This, in turn, amused me.  And it is written that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

Saturday and Sunday pass with little excitement I had a TV and my cell and I could watch my sports, news or educational shows.  They put me on my new low-fat, low-sodium diet and much to my surprise it was not bad, in fact, not bad at all.

(The above-mention Father Tony came to visit and offered Communion.  As it I was in a Catholic Hospital someone came around every day to deliver Communion to those who wished.  But, he was kind enough to give me the blessing of the ill and after a nice chat, off he went. The next day, my pal Father Jim (who is reading this), comes by, offers Communion and again too late.  He then offers the anointing of the ill. I asked how often can one received such blessing and he said about once a month.  I said that Father Tony was here the day before and he gave me a blessing.  Well, Father Jim had been a priest for about two weeks at this point and recalled that giving the anointing is a grey area and if I have not received the chrism and so on, he could do it again.  And besides, he said, it would be his first time and as I was a friend and all.  Well, I guess I am good to go if I am in a bad situation without a priest.  Thank both of you guys!)

Monday morning I am wheeled down for pre-op.  They to all the tests and so forth and send me back to my room.  A few hours later I am wheeled out again to go to the OR.

There is a jam-up in the hall and I am stopped while they sort out the mess.   About ten feet down on the other side of the hall they roll out some guy maybe ten years or so younger than me.  He does not seemed to be to bothered by things either.  I make eye contact and I say “What are you in for?”  He taps his chest and says “Heart, what about you?” “Sex change” I say and was as surprised as anyone else at what I said and of course now the entire hall is laughing.

He replies “Well, gimme your number, you are kinda cute, let’s see how it works out.” And if someone was not laughing before they were then.

Down we go to the bowels of the hospital. I am prepped and sedated but not knocked out.  To make a long story short, I had over 80% blockage in three of the four more popular arteries.  cardio office is addressed by their first names) says afterwards that everything went fine, there are no problems expected, and, oh, by the way, by the size and locations of the blockages, had they not done the procedure that or the following day I would have suffered a massive heart attack and most likely would have died.

So, I decided that I was given this second chance.  As it is said “God Don’t Want Me Yet.”  So, He must have a plan for me.  I have no idea what it is. Maybe I am doing it, maybe not.  I don’t know but I am still alive on my first new birthday and I will listen for His Word.

(For all of you who were aware of this and were kind enough so send emails, texts, cards, letters and gifts, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU and THANK YOU AGAIN from the bottom of my repaired heart.  You have no idea how much you blessed me.)


PS:  Since then I have met with the docs a number of times and I have had a few more procedures on my legs.   Jim said that I had to go on this draconian diet. I told him it would never work.  Never.   We chatted and we came to some understanding on what made me tick and how far I can be restrained.  I assured him I would beat his expectations left to his guidance and my own internal determination.  I stick to the diet more than 95% of the time.  I make up for it when I stray. I use “MyFitnessPal”  app to monitor everything I eat.  I have not had a beer in over a year.  Yes, I do enjoy my wine and spirits but not like before.   I can count the times I have had pizza (very few) and visits to Mexican and Chinese restaurants (zero.) When I got stabilized and my strength back I started going to the gym three times a week.  In the past year, I have lost fifty pounds, converted about ten pounds or more of fat to muscle, and I am in the best physical shape that I have been in in the past thirty years and getting better every day.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  I am not going anywhere till He calls me home.





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