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Your Health (Part 2 of 4)

Your health is one of your most important possessions. Another important possession is a half-gallon of Blue Bell strawberry ice cream. That is a different but somewhat related story. Which leads me into a discussion of your heart, an important contributor to your health. If your heart quits working, your health generally declines very rapidly. So let's talk about your heart--actually, let's talk about my heart because I know nothing at all about your heart. Again, perhaps you can learn something profitable from my example.

In my last report I was telling the cardiologist in the city south of Huntsville where he could get off and was going home to lie to my wife about my heart. The very next day I had occasion to talk to my brother-in-law who is a doctor in another state. I told him the truth about my unfortunate heart (I didn't have to lie to him because he wouldn't come rushing home from England like my wife would have.) He said, "Let me fix you up with a really good cardiologist in Houston." He also said he would send my sister to look after me since my wife was in Europe and no one else in Texas even liked me. He did both of those things, and 4 days later I had an appointment for heart surgery at a famous hospital (named after the equally famous church established by John Wesley) in Houston. Heart surgery actually sounds much more serious than "a procedure," which was what all the medical people were calling it. I thought it was serious.

In case you're ever faced with this "procedure," not to worry. It's a piece of cake--which, by the way, would go really well with the Blue Bell ice cream.

Here"s how it works. You can have nothing to eat after midnight on the day of the "procedure." You get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning. Do you know how dark it is at 4:30 in the morning? No problem--turn on the lights. Take a shower, shave, and put on really clean underwear and get in the car to go to Houston. Then rush back in the house and finishing dressing. No matter how clean, underwear alone is just not enough. Arrive at the famous hospital at 7:00, the appointed hour. You are taken to a small room where you are stripped of all your clothes, including your clean underwear. To maintain your modesty (but to hell with your dignity), an attractive nurse will provide you with a short gown, which ties up the back. The ease of getting into this gown (for you or anyone else for that matter) is immediately apparent. Now the fun has only just begun.

Four nurses are in attendance. One asks a lot of questions, another records the answers, the third makes sure the second writes the answers down correctly and the last one tries to turn on the television in the corner of the room. I didn't know why they needed four nurses until I got my bill later on. Then I gue$$ed why.

One of the nurses gives me a "happy shot" and makes me climb up on a gurney and wheels me to an area that had a lot of other "happy" people and told me, "The doctor will see you soon." The doctor arrives 49 minutes later (an explanation of this timing appears in the previous column). He explains how the procedure will work. "First, we'll make a small incision in your groin . . ." Breaker! The groin seems to be a long way from the problem area. Remember we are doing a heart procedure. (For those who might not know, there are some really delicate and sensitive body parts right there in the groin area). “Then we’ll run a garden hose up a major artery to your heart. We’ll squirt in some dye and watch it on television.” I'd heard that story before, but it sounded simple.

Here’s what really happens. A very pretty nurse named April wheels you into the operating room. There are four other nurses waiting. Do you find it peculiar that famous hospital nurses always work in teams of four? Nurse #1 says, “I’m going to prep the right side of the groin,” (she does this with a wicked looking razor and shaving lather) “then I’m going to prep the left side in case the right side doesn’t work.” How could it “not work?” Maybe the garden hose gets stuck. Nurse #2 sandpapers my chest and puts those really sticky electrode things all over. Nurse #3 talks to April who calls her “mom.” This is really true: nurse #3 is April’s mom. April is a student at the University of Houston and is just watching. I’ll bet she really got her eye full watching nurse #1 prep all that groin area. (By now the scrimpy gown was not even fulfilling its modesty function). Nurse #4 adjusts lights (it’s really bright) and turns on three television sets. Great! We can watch CNN during the surgery. But no. All we all get to watch are my innards. April says, “The doctor will be with you soon,” and April’s mom gives me an even happier shot. By now I feel really good and am ready to watch the whole show on T.V. The doctor makes his grand entrance, followed by a number other doctors. I really couldn’t tell how many until later when I got the bill. In fact, I wasn’t real sure my doctor was really there because all the doctors had on better masks than the Lone Ranger ever had.

Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Has the suspense just about got the best of you? Good. Stay tuned and we’ll see how all this turns out next week.s