​A Likely Story - You’re All Heart

Roger Clark
March 2020

A heart attack was not on my radar but, like many people, I work too hard, walk too slow, talk too loudly, and wait too long. Folks like me spend too much time watching TV, playing the ponies, picking out donuts, and making up our mind at the Golden Arches. Then somewhere between potluck suppers and Free Pie Wednesdays we complain about chest pains, fatigue and shortness of breath.

I quit smoking almost thirty years ago, never learned to drink, and wouldn’t know illegal drugs if they spit in my eye. I have had more than a fair share of trips to the Emergency Room, but never been badly injured, seriously ill, or confined to a hospital. Never did it occur to me that I might be cursed with good health.

Then at 5:00 AM in a Minneapolis hotel a few years ago, I was awakened by chest pains, and immediately did four things. (A)I tried to take a shower. (B) I tried to get dressed. (C) Then I tried to walk 250 feet to the elevator, and another 100 feet across the lobby. And there (D) is where I asked the front desk to call 9-1-1.

The only correct answer was (D) calling 9-1-1, and I could have—should have—done it the minute I woke up. Had I done that, paramedics from MFD Station 5 would have been at my bedside in four minutes flat. I know this, because they got to me in the lobby just two minutes after the call.

Just ten minutes later, at a nearby trauma center, I was surrounded by a team of focused professionals. I know they werefocused because it was a well-practiced response done many times before. I knew they were professionals because ten dollars in loose change spilled from my pockets, and nobody left for breakfast.

Following a brief pit stop in the Cath lab, I was rushed upstairs in time to watch “The View” with Joy and Whoopi. I had a three day stay, at the Minneapolis Heart Institute and Time Share Resort, but my wife had it worse. She had a million-mile drive from Wichita to Minnesota.

As I was being prepped for release, the attending cardiologist was going over a list of sins and omissions for me.

“You’ll be limited to two cups of coffee a day” she said.

“Well then, just kill me now!” I responded.

Her reaction indicated humor wasn’t high on her list. But then, it wasn’t high on mine that day, either!

It’s now three years later, and I recently saw my Kansas cardiologist. He looked at my chart and said, quote, You could live another 25 years. Or not. Unquote.

I was really comforted. Or not!

He could have told me to lose weight, get exercise, find a hobby, or invest in oxygen stock, but the doctor is a busy man. I would have asked him about it, but he’s already in the alley taking a smoke break.

Doctors are people too, by the way. Just the other day in a hospital waiting room, my wife was discussing procedures with a surgeon when my cardiologist ran by in the hallway. “There goes RC’s cardiologist she said.

“Mine too!”, said the surgeon.

Our family doctor here in Smalltown, Kansas looks like a high school class valedictorian, but he’s a card-carrying, lab coat-wearing doctor of osteopathy, (whatever that is). He’s also a Medical Review Officer for the Department Of Transportation. This means (A) he’s a no-nonsense practitioner of healthy living, and (B) all my drugs better be prescriptions!

You can reach Roger at [email protected].