Taking it All to Heart

I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post that there is a definite emotional component to having heart-surgery. I could write at length about several strong emotions that I have experienced already, but one is fully formed.

That I was the recipient of such outstanding professional care is humbling in a way that I never imagined it could be. Even more humbling is the personal care of everyone with whom I came in contact at WVU Medicine Ruby Memorial Hospital, from Dr. Badhwar and his team to Paige, Ashley, and Crystal my ICU nurses and on to Barbara, Nancy, and Makenna who continued such care on the cardiovascular ward. They encouraged me, they conversed with me, and by doing so they made sure that I was never alone even when they were absent from the room. Even at the outset, Danielle, the cardiac surgery coordinator always spoke to me, the person and never me, the patient. Dr. Badhwar took very seriously my desire to complete the surgery and get me a long ways on the road to recovery before the Big Swing Thing in York, PA at the end of April.

Even more humbling is the unconditional love that I have received and continue to receive from my family, and those many whom I consider family. It is so remarkable to me that you each gave the best that you had, whether it was humor, encouragement, perspective, a simple but kind word, or an actual deed. Much of it was expressed without words or form, but it was received as clearly as if a telegram had been placed in my hands. I have no doubt that this love prepped me for a positive outcome to the surgery and that it continues to fuel my recovery. You have been quite the surgical team yourselves, albeit while operating on a different level.

Being the recipient of such love makes me wonder what I did to deserve it, but then I realize that that question is fraught with error, not the least of which is that unconditional love cannot be earned in any case. Whatever the question may be, I think the answer, at least for me is this: I have been given an incredible gift in the form of a repaired heart, and a sacred gift in the form of such unconditional love. Such gifts one does not own—one distributes. It’s as if I am this radio station which now has a vastly upgraded signal that will allow me to focus your gifts on others who need it.

As I said yesterday, it’s been quite the interesting week, and to think—life after surgery has just started.

Half of me is about this hairless once more. The ole ticker was flawed even then, according to the doc, but since it was a young ticker, it took a while for the flaw to surface.

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A Heart-felt Week

Well. This has been an interesting week. On Tuesday morning, an incredibly skilled surgeon, Dr. Vinay Badhwar, was snipping at a floppy flap in my heart using a robot, then placing a titanium ring around the problematic valve to keep it functioning as it should. And now, here I am on Saturday morning, sitting on my couch, telling you about it. Mind-boggled doesn’t begin to cover the way I feel.

That Tuesday morning began with surgical preparation, which itself began with the statement, “We’re going to shave you from your neck to your ankles.” I thought that this was some hospital hyperbole, but it turns out they were rather literal–to a point. They shaved my legs, but only on the tops, so now my shin bones look like two tonsured, Medieval monks.

When they wheeled me into the operating room, I expected to see Princess Leia washing her hands because that was the whitest, most futuristic place in which I have ever been. At that point, I remember having a pleasant and very detailed conversation with one of the anesthesiologists. Then I remember being in ICU with tubes and needles stuck in me and some gadget sutured to my neck. Once the chest drainage tube came out on the afternoon following surgery, the recovery really began to accelerate. Of course, they kept sticking me at all hours of the day and night in order to thin my blood, measure blood sugar, and inject anti-biotics, among other things that I remember. I was stuck so much that I even winced when we got stuck in a little bit of traffic on the way home.

In any case, the medical population that I fit into is “unique” as one of my excellent nurses, put it. I have a very healthy heart, which happened to have a mechanical flaw, “since birth,” according to Dr. Badhwar.

Star Wars surgery Tuesday morning, home on Friday afternoon. Beyond mind-boggling, this experience is already producing an interesting set of emotions, but more on that tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a really cool photo. It’s like a heart-selfie.

Dr.  You can see the robot arms, center left and lower right. The one on the left has just snipped part of the valve, resulting in the slight crescent in the white tissue at center.


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Play by Play the Old-Fashioned Way

I love my high-definition television, especially when it comes to watching baseball games. I like replay and all the different camera angles and I like seeing it all from the comfort of my couch.

Despite the visual splendor that modern technology may bring to a ballgame, there is nothing more splendid than listening to the game on the radio, especially from the comfort of one’s porch. That’s how most of us of a certain age, consumed our baseball–via the masters of the microphones, those play-by-play guys who night after night, season after season brought the exploits of our favorite teams to life. We saw it all through their words and our imaginations. In my house, Oriole announcers Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell were part of the family and to this day I get that warm sense of home whenever I hear their voices on old recordings. O’Donnell would sign off every Orioles’ victory with the words, “It’s been a good night, everybody,” words which I appropriated when I was fortunate enough to broadcast New Market Rebel games for several years with my own excellent partner, Charlie Dodge. I digress . . .

All of this is to say that there is a website out there with a catalog of 360 radio broadcasts of various games, including more than a few World Series games, played between 1934 and 1973. That website may be accessed here. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic, I doubt you’ll want to go out on your porch this week to listen! Nevertheless, if you’re a baseball fan or a cultural history buff or even a fan of the way things used to be, I urge you to pick a game and listen in to the days when the story was more important than the statistics and play-by-play men were baseball poets. I’m going to have some downtime this week and it’s certainly what I plan on doing.

Image result for photos of chuck thompson & bill o'donnellImage result for photos of chuck thompson

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In the Mood for a Heart Update

I am happy to say that I have a surgery date to fix my leaky heart valve. That will occur on March 13th and I am excited at the prospects of having my energy restored. I met the surgeon, Dr. Vinay Badhwar, and his team and was quite impressed. They are consummate professionals who are clearly interested in treating people and not merely repairing parts.

You may recall from my previous post that I had hoped to be in the hospital on my

We have something in common!

birthday if for no other reason than it would create a certain poetic symmetry since my last overnight stay in the hospital was when I was born. Close enough!

Indeed, today is my birthday and there is a certain poetic symmetry in the fact that it is one that I share with Glenn Miller. Miller’s music makes me want to move, and that is why I’ve enjoyed his music even at a time when I didn’t know who Glenn Miller was. A group named Harpers Bizarre put out their version of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” in 1967 and I bought the 45. (That’s the little record with the big hole, for you youngsters.) For me, it was just a really cool song; I had no idea about its history. I’ve learned a little about it since then.

One of the highlights of 2017 for me was dancing to the sounds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra at Glen Echo Park in July. I expect it to be one of the highlights of 2018 as well! And I expect to be at full speed when doing it.

Enough “listening” to me. I’m going to turn it over to the other birthday boy.

From the movie Sun Valley Serenade:

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Hearts and Hours

The last night I spent in a hospital was early March of 1957. I checked out of my mother and into the hospital on March 1st of that year and I’ve never been back since. That streak is about to be broken, possibly, and quite poetically on March 1st of this year as I need a valve job. Apparently, I have a severely leaking mitral valve and I’m just not running right. I’m very much looking forward to the operation so that I’m purring on all cylinders.

That’s a personal update, and now on to an update on my 2018 writing projects, in which there are no automobile metaphors.

The as-yet unnamed sequel to The Secret of Their Midnight Tears is in the final stages of editing and I hope to publish it at the beginning of June. I truly appreciate those of you who asked for (in some cases, demanded!) a sequel. The sequel begins on New Year’s Eve 1942 and ends on July 17, 1944. As you may suspect from that ending date, there will be a third book to conclude the story of Elizabeth, Veronica, Buck, and Johnny but that is a ways down the road.

Last year at this time, I told you that I planned to publish a work entitled, A Faith in the

This masterpiece will be on your bookshelves (or your virtual bookshelves) before the year is out! [Don’t question. Just buy it.]

Crowd which is the story of one man’s spiritual journey. Only this journey is a literal one as Sam Cartwright finds himself aboard a jetliner bound for Heaven. Here, he meets Frank Sinatra, Methuselah, “The Boss,” and most importantly, himself. And while some journeys are inspiring or difficult or even tragic, Sam’s is rather comical. Of course, the world is rather comical or perhaps you might say that you may as well laugh because it beats crying.

In any case, because of the number of hours [title allusion] and the effort in publishing both The Secret of Their Midnight Tears and Fathers, Sons, & Holy Ghosts: Baseball As a Spiritual Experience, A Faith in the Crowd never made it to the published page in 2017. At some point this year, however, you’ll have another great piece of literature to place on your bookshelf. You can impress your friends by casually dropping into a conversation, “Oh yes, I know the author.” Impress me by adding, “I own his entire catalog and he has personalized each copy.” In fact, if you do that, I’ll even show up at your next social event to prove that you really do know the author. I’ll even wear a sports coat with elbow patches and smoke a pipe and generally mingle with your guest looking profound and authory.

Thanks in advance for your well-wishes on the heart thing and for your support with the writing thing.

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Don’t Nail Your Laptop Battery In Place

I recently bought a replacement battery for my laptop and I happened to glance through a small foldout entitled, User Manual. There, I came across some admonitions that I did not think needed to be put in writing, chief among which was “Never hammer a nail into the battery pack.”


I understand that these batteries come in different sizes for the various laptops on the market, but is there really someone out there who, upon finding that his battery doesn’t quite fit his laptop, decides that it would be a good idea to nail the thing in place?

Even worse is the fact that it can’t just be one person who believes that nailing the battery is a good idea, because if it was just one person, the manufacturer wouldn’t have to devote a section in the User Manual to informing people that nailing the battery is a no-no. Apparently, there’s an entire subset of people who practice some form of computer carpentry.

This same paragraph also tells me not to “hit a hammer on the battery pack” and to “never step or tread on the battery pack.” I have to admit that I’ve wanted to fix my computer with a hammer a time or two, but I’ve never thought about stepping or treading on the battery. Those cookies on the top shelf are too high to reach, but maybe if I stepped up on this laptop battery I’ll be able to snag ‘em. That could just be me, though.

Of course, I’ve never thought about throwing “the battery pack into fire” nor exposing “the battery pack to liquid.” I would certainly never think of exposing the battery pack to alcoholic liquid as I can only imagine the havoc that a tipsy battery pack could wreak on my files.

Well, what have we learned from the User Manual for my new laptop battery? We have learned two things, I think. First, never hammer a nail into your battery; and second, no matter what dumb things we may do on a given day, we’re not as dumb as the guy who needs to be told not to hammer a nail into his battery pack. Oh, and put down the staple gun as I’m sure the warning against stapling, riveting, and using screws to hold the battery in place are implied.

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Repost This Or Else

Keeping in touch with friends through Facebook is one of life’s little pleasures.

Among life’s great irritants are the Facebook posts that demand I repost something as my status or else I am not a true friend; or I am against veterans or I’m a fan of cancer or I hate puppies. Or I hate cancer-ridden military dog; I lose track after a bit.

Oh, and your fifteen requests a day to play Candy Crush are also irritating.

Oh, oh and you people who let the world know that there is an immediate crisis in your life, but only in vague and cryptic terms so that we really have no idea what the problem is—cut it out. Cut it out or quit being so cryptic and give us the whole story

Then, there are those people who post something along the following lines:  I just fell down an open manhole where a sewer-dwelling alligator ate half my leg off, to which I’ll reply, Oh, no, my friend! Are you okay? And then you say, Ha! Gotcha! Now YOU have to post that you fell down a manhole where a sewer-dwelling alligator ate your leg off. Failing to repost this or another selection from an idiotic list of scenarios will result in a worldwide outbreak of malaria. And will be a sure sign that I hate puppies.

When I get on Facebook, I just want to see how you’re doing; maybe see a nice photo of your grandbaby or your dog or even your lunch. I might watch your video and I might even take your quiz to find out what French monarch I was in a past life, but I did not get on Facebook to be irritated. So, you repost-or-else, candy crushing, drama queens need to cease and desist. After all, the alligator who lives in the sewer has a Facebook page and he never posts stuff such as this.

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