Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Anniversitat Post-Mortio

Four years ago I died. Intentionally. And about this time of day I was in induced coma, packed in ice, "recovering" from open heart surgery. They'd done a (then) new variation on the Coronary Artery Bypass Graft. I was an "Off Pump" baby. Today, just four years later, the majority of CABGs are done "off pump" if the patient is hardy enough to stand the small amount of additional stress.

Fourteen days of ICU and cardiac ward care, a major dent in the morphine supply, countless hours striding around the ward in a boiling rage after the hourly administration of steroids to help my breathing, I was discharged to my wife's care. Thank goodness! I'd had several "close calls" as my caretakers attempted to kill me with the wrong drugs, misunderstood orders and swill I wouldn't feed pigs.

It only took six weeks until I was granted medical clearance to drive again. At three months, my pulmonologist confirmed what I'd suspected all along -- the nerves to the left side of my diaphragm had been severed or crushed during the operation, most likely when the spreader was deployed on my ribcage. While there's nothing in particular wrong with the lung, there is nothing to force air in and out, so it's half power from here on out. It is a common side effect of the operation and while I miss the lung capacity (I can't sing, whoop or holler anymore, mountain climbing and bike racing are no longer an option, too) I fault no one. Just the luck of the draw, I figure. Hell, the alternative is death in six weeks if I didn't have the operation.

And so it goes...

That's what I'm celebrating tonight. So lift a glass of whiskey, shout "Skoal!" and smash the glass in the fireplace. Life -- it's all good, even the bad. And it's the only life you have -- unless you get jumpstarted again.

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