Alone in my den on a dark and drizzly morning, trying not to think about Wednesday’s heart catheterization ( I cannot pronounce that word), the news events of the day seem far, far away. I cannot make sense of the Egyptians, irrevocably divided as they are over different versions of a religion with which I utterly disagree. To me the Suni Muslims are beguiled by the Dark Side. So are the Shia.
Yet it’s the Coptic Christians who seem to suffer more than anyone in that ancient land. We are told we should be tolerant of others’ beliefs. And I agree. But there is zero tolerance in Egypt. Believe as they do or die.
I sympathize with President Obama, who is under fire for not taking decisive action. What is the man to do? I would be as hesitant as he is to intervene. As they say in Jamaica, “cockroach no business in a fowl fight.”
And me, I have my own concerns to ponder. In five days, I will undergo a simple procedure to find out how diseased my heart is, and what can be done about it. Simple, except for my dangerous allergy to iodine dye. I have been injected with the dye twice before, and twice I had a really rough ride.
The first time was at Morton Plant Hospital in Tarpon Springs, the old Florida sponge diving town. I went into convulsions. It was not pleasant.
The second time was here at the Lakeland Regional Medical Center. That time I stopped breathing and they stuck a breathing tube down my throat, ripping my vocal cords to shreds (or so it seemed later when I told the nurse that on a scale of 1 to 10, my pain was 15).
Even with pills prescribed to counteract the allergy this time (prednisone), I am still uneasy, even apprehensive.
But I talked with the health insurance company’s “hotline” nurse yesterday, and she told me there’s a new kind of dye with less iodine, and I should insist they use that on Wednesday. Insist? Have you ever undergone a “procedure”? Did you feel able to insist on anything as you lay on the cot in that ridiculous nightgown, with the cool air on your bare backside?
And what if they find that the left main coronary artery is so blocked that I am in imminent danger? Ten years ago, when they last checked, it was 40 to 45 percent blocked. The heart doctor assures me it will be much worse by now. He predicts I will likely need open-heart surgery – a bypass. And he concedes that it will be “bloody.”
My daughter, Grace, who has had a heart attack, had a stent inserted in one of her coronary arteries, and she says I should make them do the same to me. She looked it up on the internet and says a bypass is the old way. They have found that stents work as well – even on a major artery – and are less invasive. I guess they don’t crack open your breast bone to do the stent.
What an image for a dreary Friday morning!
My dad used to say that cowards die many times before their death, while brave men die but once. Coward that I am, I am susceptible to images like that.
And I am acutely aware that – at 79 years old – my days are probably numbered anyway. At this time of life, “if the left hand don’t get you then the right hand will.” You wait for the other shoe to fall, and you are thankful for every extra day.
But I am being inexcusably morbid. Lots of people have “procedures” – even open-heart surgery – and don’t make a fuss about it.
My brother Peter had his chest split open and five blockages bypassed. He was shaky for a while, but he seems fully recovered now.
And pondering the future is futile anyway.
As an old hymn puts sit, “I know not what the future hath of marvel or surprise, assured alone that life and death God’s mercy underlies.”
Yes, God’s mercy. And I am not talking about the god of the Suni or the Shia. I am talking about my God. The God of Abraham and Jesus.