Friday, May 18, 2012

Have It Your Way

Among the things I have in common with Bill Clinton are a lifetime of burgers. Even before Ronald McDonald sold the first small fraction of his first billion, Atlanta my hometown provided The Varsity, glorified steaks (hamburger with lettuce and tomato), chili burgers and onion rings with the warm oil still dripping into the carton. Growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s without disposable income for junk food, I was only wistfully aware of the all-Americans available at the Dairy Queen as well as the lunch counters of every corner drugstore. Nowadays all roads lead to Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic, et al. Would you like fries with that? How about cheese? Maybe you could go ahead and pick out your cardiologist for the quadruple bypass heart surgery, another thing I now share with Bill Clinton. The former President, two years younger than I am, had his quadruple bypass at age 63, then had to have stints installed in the bypassed arteries just a few years later. Today, he looks lean and hungry, as if he finally got the message. I had my quadruple bypass May 4, the day of the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class.

So now I am eating sodium-free, sugar free, fat free and happy to be eating anything at all. The first few days after arriving home from Emory Hospital Cardiac Unit, I was so nauseated I ate almost nothing. I have already lost 12 pounds in a little over a week. I have an appetite again. I walk from my front door to my back door, about 30 paces, several times a day. This helps me breathe deeply and process gas. I walk some and burp some. I am taking naps all day. Between naps, I doze off.

The bypass is to provide blood flow after the arteries are too clogged to function. Think of a plumbing job even Roto Rooter can not fix, and new pipes have to be installed around the obstructions. To do this, veins are harvested from your legs and chest and grafted on to your heart to provide a path for the blood flow. An incision a hand high is made in your chest, then your breast bone is sawed in half. Are you cringing yet? Anyway, it only hurts when you wake up afterwards. A friend of mine shared these words of bypass comfort: anybody who says laughter is the best medicine has never tried morphine.

Here’s my prescription list:

Amiodarone, aspirin, carvedilol, dabigatran, docusate, famotidine, furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, hydromorphone, potassium chloride, simvastatin.

Full recovery will take about three months. My cardiologist will supervise an exercise program at the DeKalb Wellness Center, already one of the places I know best, since a previous and unrelated illness in 2006.


Carl Bergman said...


At the Friday night reunion the food was provided by the Varsity with Krispy Kreme doughnuts for desert. One doctor wanted to know if Dr Kevorkian picked the menu.


Mandi said...

Uncle Bill I am sorry to hear about your health issues. As a cardiac nurse I am very familiar with your cocktail of meds. I enjoy your blog and do hope your health allows you to continue. My recommendation if it tastes good spit it out avoid salt like it was cobra venom. And move move move. I need to follow my own advise.

I especially enjoy stories about your growing up with Mama Ouida and Martha

Keep moving and writing


Tina said...

I see that they didn't remove your sense of humor or your ability as an essayist. Glad you are getting on so well. :-)


Hit Counter
Boden Clothes