Houston? Houston?

Stand by for re-entry. Might be a bumpy ride.

I still can’t get my head around the fact that we die. That we die comma period.  This, this very this, astonishes me every day of my long legged life.  But I suppose it’s better to wait for that grim bastard standing on my own two feet.  Not dragging some oxygen tank over to the nickel slots.  Eh?

He worked as meat cutter for Purity Supreme Supermarket in the Boston area for more than 30 years before his retirement in 1980. Henry had been a longtime

(Started off as a comment on this post over here.)

sort of setting the mood here

Premature Burial

We die.

You will never hear those words spoken in a television ad. Yet this central fact of human existence colors our world and how we perceive ourselves within it.

“Life is too short,” we say, and it is. Too short for office politics, for busywork and pointless paper chases, for jumping through hoops and covering our asses, for trying to please, to not offend, for constantly struggling to achieve some ever-receding definition of success. Too short as well for worrying whether we bought the right suit, the right breakfast cereal, the right laptop computer, the right brand of underarm deodorant.

Life is too short because we die. Alone with ourselves, we sometimes stop to wonder what’s important, really. Our kids, our friends, our lovers, our losses? Things change and change is often painful. People get “downsized,” move away, the old neighborhood isn’t what it used to be. Children get sick, get better, get bored, get on our nerves. They grow up hearing news of a world more frightening than anything in ancient fairy tales. The wicked witch won’t really push you into the oven, honey, but watch out for AK-47s at recess.

Amazingly, we learn to live with it. Human beings are incredibly resilient. We know it’s all temporary, that we can’t freeze the good times or hold back the bad. We roll with the punches, regroup, rebuild, pick up the pieces, take another shot. We come to understand that life is just like that. And this seemingly simple understanding is the seed of a profound wisdom.

Why beat around the bush? I had a heart attack this week. I was incredibly short of breath, but didn’t have any pain. I thought. Since my fall on my back on the ice I’ve had a lot of pain in all the muscles around my shoulder blades and some has bled over into the chest muscles too. How much of the pain I felt Tuesday morning was residual pain from the fall, and how much was actually the pain associated with a myocardial infarction I guess I’ll never know.

When my breathing slowed and I got my wind back I figured I was back to normal. Beth was persistent and insistent and finally I got in the car and we went to the hospital. Beth drove.

We began with a visit to the Emergency Room, a test that showed Troponin in my blood, a gurney ride to the cardiac care unit, lots more blood tests and IV punctures, bags of saline and bags of heparin and the most uncomfortable night I have had sleeping since we slept in jungle hammocks in Bulovsky’s woods. Next morning they put me in line for a cardiac catheterization. I confessed my anxiety to the nurse. She said not to worry, I would get over it quickly enough, and I did. Get over it. Whatever they put in my IV had me packing up my cares and woes and whistling Bye-bye Blackbird. They found that my arteries are about as atherosclerotic as you might expect in a man my age, but no blockages, nothing requiring bypass or stents or balloons or whatever. They monitored me for several hours after they pulled the catheter out of my heart via the puncture they’d made in my femoral artery. Finally, they sent me home with prescriptions for three different drugs.

I was at first totally in denial. No elephant sitting on my chest, therefore no heart attack. The Troponin was probably the other kind of Troponin, the kind that comes from—oh, I dunno, falling on the ice for example. Fortunately we have the google at my house, so I was able to read a little and learn that the many physicians, technicians, and nurses were probably right in their diagnosis and my intuition that I really hadn’t had a heart attack was likely quite wrong.

There are so many things to write about that even a moment’s reflection on my own mortality seems kind of cheesy. And while I have a health problem, so do a lot of other people and you don’t hear them whining and kvetching. Let’s close the door on the cardiac ward and get out of here. Let’s get back to talking about politics and the economy, to sharing some links to enjoyable art, and to poking fun at the self important buffoons who surround us.

Speaking of which, here’s a guy who’s doing it rightGood morning, good afternoon, good evening and good day.

Stay tuned for Ben Casey, MD

Stay tuned for Ben Casey, MD

Posted in The Proprietor
21 comments on “Houston? Houston?
  1. jeneane says:

    thinking of you frank. And CUT IT OUT ALREADY with the heart stuff. You’re giving me the willies.

  2. Peter (the Other) says:

    Geez Frank, you take it well. As a blogging godfather, you are still out there a few steps ahead. Too many friends are being taken by the first round. I’m glad you only got the warning shot.

    I find myself pondering the coinc-i-dink that I was just (last night) biting nto a blue-cheese-bacon burger (here in Paris) whilst joking to my friends “Just what the doctor ordered… mmmm… mmmm… me NOT to eat.” Har-har… urrrr…

    Hug a cat, I believe they have magical, restorative powers… well… maybe?

  3. yeah, when they find all of those chemical leftovers and detritus from your heart seizing up, ya pause. (in a stentorian voice.’Your blood test came back and your blood is littered with all these dead heart muscles cells……)visions of skull topped canes and flamejob wheelchairs flash before your eyes.

    you are too old to show up on the county road in an orange and puce track suit with the jogging shoe du jour, scaring the squirrells, and crows as well as getting the growlees from your own dogs, but you need to step away from the keyboard. I remodel, which seems to help.

    ya might think about walking to the mailbox or letting the dog throw the frisbee.

  4. tamarika says:

    Dear Frank,
    I am out of breath reading this. Last year I “faced my mortality” pretty seriously. It is serious business – this getting old stuff – and having stuff happen.
    You are important in my life.
    I am holding you in my thoughts and wishing you health and strength – LOTS of it – always … oh yes, and happiness too.
    Thank Beth from me for taking you to the hospital!!!!!!!!
    Love, love and love,
    Tamarika!

  5. Zo says:

    … I could whine and kvetch if you want. If that would help …

  6. I for one am very glad you are still here on this plane of existence to tell us that story. Hugs from Oz, and lots more stories, please, maybe a few less brushes with death.

  7. OK, so you’ve had that little brush with rather-too-much-excitement. That’s quite enough of that. We need you to hang around and keep writing, keep stirring up trouble for many years to come, Frank. Let’s just consider this brief episode a blip; the merest pause. A chance to maybe put your feet up for a few hours, take it easy for a while. Another opportunity to view the messed-upedness of the Murican healthcare “system” from the inside. Normal sevice will be resumed, etc. Be well.

  8. tom says:

    So, chicken soup, red wine, reiterated visions of Bush jumping from a plane without a chute, cut the cheese,Whitman, walks, dogs, wife, kids, you know the drill, up and adam and bob’s yr uncle.

  9. Don Harvey says:

    Seriously Frank, I can’t believe what I just read. You slept in a jungle hammock in Bulovsky’s woods?
    Still love ya. Harv.

  10. …much like the hospital bed only more mosquitoes.

  11. madame l. says:

    …and less necrotizing fasciitis…

  12. Well, yeah. That too.

  13. Jon Husband says:

    Not that you need me to say this, but please be well, Frank. And live every day to the fullest, being an alive human being is just such a cool thing.

  14. Geebus, I step away for a frew daze, for some lovin an fam ham, an I come back to find Frank’s gone to town on the ole tube-in-tube-out. Yes, it’s all about me and my thorough discomfitation caused by your surprise reality checks. So quit it.

    At least you’ve now picked up the healing ‘tude. All in all, we all consider your job not yet done, tho the ledger be long on the right side, generally speaking. Now hit the unpause and press on soldier, as you were.

  15. Mike Golby says:

    Oh good grief – surely you’ve heard the old adage “Only the good die young”? For Heaven’s sake (literally), Frank, you stand to be with us for a hell of a long time to come. And thank God for that.

    Don’t scare us, Frank, and you look after yourself Tamar (the old adage, y’know – I doubt anybody else here’s at risk).

    Life’s way too short …

  16. Stu Savory says:

    Sorry to hear that, Frank.
    Please look after yourself !

    Your stent-bearing co-blogger,
    Ole Phat Stu.

  17. Bruce says:

    Shoot, Frank. Please take care of yourself. We’d be directionless out here without the Colonel.

  18. Frank Paynter says:

    All these well wishes certainly buoy me up. Thank you everyone. I’m feeling better every day. Last week I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. They’ve ordered light duty for the next three weeks but I’m permitted to lift thirty pounds. After that? Probably be bench pressing my own weight.

  19. autodidact says:

    I am so glad you survived.
    I am so glad you have Beth around to take prompt&decisive action.
    I am so glad you have a cat, a dog, & who-knows-what around the house to love you.
    I am so sorry you live in a climate that requires stuff like snow shoveling.
    Think about sunshine. Take your meds. Have more olive oil at dinner.
    If it feels like another MI, take aspirin right away before waiting for the ambulance/whatever. They probably told you this already.

  20. McD says:

    “Good morning Mr. Paynter… This is your wake-up call.”

    It’s also one hell of a “writing prompt”. Document the experience as a cautionary tail for the young and restless.

    If you’re ready for some cheap advice, read on.

    Make most of what you eat be green… naturally. (Not mint chocolate chip ice cream, for example).

    Use the stairs as many times as you can stand in one day… yes the stairs you have handy around the home. People drive to the gym to use a stair machine. Then they stop. While you use these handy stairs listen to music, podcasts or audio books. Just go up… then down… repeat until you’re a fit animal again.

    Finally, it’s great to come back here and see that you’re still here. Where else could you go? (Don’t answer that.) I know where you’ll go. When you do there won’t be any more blogging… from fp.

  21. Wow, just read about this Frank. Good to hear (via Tweet) that you are feeling back to normal. Here hoping to that soon you’ll be feeling even better than normal. As one who is going through her own health crisis just now, I totally get that mortality business with the accompanying willies…

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