Notes from God’s Waiting Room

mugI shouldn’t even be here. I discovered a couple of weeks ago I have a congenital heart condition which involved plaque building up in the aortic valve. A little piece breaks off and you’ve got yourself a stroke. Now that’s not happening. I had the valve replaced Wednesday. I’d show you my lovely scar, but for the sake of small children I will limit the exposure to the mug shot from Friday.

I’ve learned there’s a thin line between daydreams, dozing off, and hallucinations. For a good 48 hours it seemed I would be in some banal conversation with somebody, but when I open my eyes, there is nobody there. Happened dozens of times.

I feel like the beneficiary of gold-plated health care, thanks to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda and Blue Cross/Federal Employee. There was a constant stream of people coming and going, monitoring blood sugar, checking blood pressure, etc. etc. They had me set up for a pacemaker, in case I needed it. I didn’t. Pulling those little wires out of my chest was exciting.

I’ve spent time in a couple of other hospitals looking after others, and I wouldn’t go to either of them if I could avoid it. I’ve also seen a few nursing homes in my day, and boy do they ever suck. I guess if you don’t know anything else, you don’t know what you’re missing. Of course there are a lot of people with little or no access to health care, but there are a lot more with access to what might be called narrow care. Which is better than nothing, but speaks volumes about our retrograde welfare state.

This kind of operation involves a myriad of details to attend to, after the fact. You’re not quite fixed, you’re in some kind of indefinite maintenance regime (see gold-plated, above). Main thing is now I can get around the house by myself. I don’t need anybody constantly attending to me, though all such attendance is welcome.

I’m involved in a few different social media situations. Frequently someone announces a life event. I had previously foregone the common practice of wishing them well, since what’s another perfunctory note. After all the friendly remarks I received, I’ll have to change my habits. Every little remark or ‘like’ has value. Do them.

I can’t drive for a month. This continues to boggle my mind. The reason is the expansion of an airbag can send you right back to the hospital, since your sternum has been fucking sawed apart and reattached with chewing gum and paper clips. For the same reason, there are all sorts of things you shouldn’t do with your arms, like this:

One of my favorite positions. And looking at Frank makes me feel a bit better too.

That’s all for now, folks. Try to eat something, then nap time.



Notes from God’s Waiting Room — 23 Comments

  1. That sucks. Hope you recover quickly. If you can make it to the movies, I’d recommend Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s a feminist action film!

  2. Max, Good thoughts headed your way…more than a perfunctory note as my son had open heart surgery as a baby and I’ve seen closeup what you’ve gone through. It’s never a good day when they stop your heart from beating. :

  3. Uncle Max,
    Pleased to hear of all your recent accomplishments. I wish you much success on your path of good health. I must admit when I picture you in the back seat being driven by leg is quite cute. (No Riding Shotgun for you, air bags exist there as well).

  4. No football for you. But if you need viewing suggestions, I have lots of Netflix-streaming cop shows for you. Right now I’m watching Witnesses, the French one from 2014. Also: naps rule!

  5. Best wishes for a fast and comfortable recovery recovery. With a little voice recognition technology, you could probably post your hallucinatory conversations online. We could have a “most banal hallucination” contest. In a better health care system, we wouldn’t even be thinking about how to increase productivity in an illness, but that’s our exceptionalism.

  6. I don’t know how you discovered this defect, but we’re glad that you did. Best wishes for a speedy, complete, and uneventful recovery.

  7. “God’s waiting room?” Did they transfer you to Florida?
    Suburban is, indeed, a good place, despite its unfortunate name. And get well soon!

  8. Hey Max, sternum’s looking a little bit like a zipper, eh!? Hope all goes well for you! ~Bond

  9. Max, you amaze me. Major heart surgery on Wednesday, jokes on Sunday. May your amazing-ness thrive along with your new valve.

  10. We’re brothers under the chest. I had a valve replacement,too. I remember the hallucinations well, but with all that experience with mind altering substances back in the day, I just laid back and enjoyed the show. Someone without that experience would probably freak out.

  11. Hang in there! We have some events that we need you to attend in the future….wedding, graduations, etc…
    You can’t duck out on us. Love to Allegra and Michelle.

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