I really needed a weekend of doing absolutely nothing — no cleaning out the gutters, no painting anything, no building a 100-foot outdoor fireplace off the patio or any of that typical stuff. I also needed a column idea — I’ve been out of column ideas since roughly 1998, which should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this column once a decade.
I then came up with a brilliant idea to fill both needs: “I know!” I told myself, who wasn’t listening. “Hey, myself, I’m talking here! I’ve got an idea — let’s have a heart attack!”
“Idiot,” myself responded. “We had a heart attack weeks ago!”
Turns out myself was right. I began having massive chest pains that radiated down my arm in mid-December but hid it from everyone, including my wife. As both a man and a cheapskate, I decided to self-treat my heart attack (or heart attacks) by pretending it didn’t happen and taking aspiring and gummy vitamins. It wasn’t like I was having one of those “Sanford and Son” moments: “It’s the big one! I’m coming to join you, Elizabeth!” Mine was more: “Wow, that really hurts incredibly bad! I wonder if I should tell someone or take a vitamin. Hmm, a vitamin oughta do it.”
Last week, the grim reaper decided to get my attention by beating my chest with a baseball bat, so I agreed to go to the doctor at the urging of my wife, who said she’d kill me if I didn’t go. That seemed somewhat counter-intuitive, but I went out of pure fear.
The doctor usually listens to me, but she cut me off when I told her of the chest pains and a slightly elevated blood pressure of 175/110. “Have you ever had an EKG?” she asked.
“I can’t even spell EKG,” I said.
She then performed this so-called EKG, which produced a piece of paper that looked like a Jackson Pollack drawing and sent me straight to a hospital. Everyone there, including the cardiologist, kept asking me when I started having chest pains. When I’d say, “mid-December,” they’d all say, “I’m sorry? Come again?”
Apparently, you’re not supposed to wait that long to see a doctor. Fortunately, I made it long enough for the cardiologist to dive into my right arm and take a trip into my heart, where he took pictures and a cool video of the main artery into my heart, which had 99 percent blockage. It’s called the “widow-maker,” the same nickname I have for my BB gun. He said most folks with blockage anywhere near that level in the main artery usually have their condition listed as “quite dead.” They cleaned it out, put in a stent and told me to never enjoy food ever again.
I also need to reduce stress, which means I’ll probably stay out of (and start fewer) political arguments. No one’s changed their mind in 17 years, so what’s the point? To be on the safe side, I’ll also avoid opening painful bills — like the one I’ll be getting from a two-night stay in the hospital — or reading letters from the legal extortionists in the private health insurance industry who will tell me none of this is covered because I wasn’t pre-approved to have a heart attack.
Of course, one of the main stresses I’ve had the past couple of months has come from watching my Georgia Bulldogs and Atlanta Falcons. In fact, I’ve asked the hospital to send all my bills to Athens and Atlanta. Not sure if UGA is legally allowed to pay for their fans’ heart attacks, but Falcons owner Arthur Blank can afford it.
I’m not sure I can handle that much drama from my football teams next season. From now on, I’m rooting for Vanderbilt and the Cleveland Browns just to be on the safe side.
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