Welcome to the land of bad news and statistical misery and to the prospect that you might drop dead of a heart attack at any moment if you are fat, old, smoke cigarettes, drink too many martinis or refuse to eat your broccoli and your collard greens.
I mention that today because I fit into just about every one of those categories and am a good bet to becoming one of the Americans who die every 40 seconds from coronary disease, so I’m writing as fast as I can to at least finish this short essay before I go.
Those statistics, by the way—or BTW if you are under 16 and obsessed with FB (Facebook) abbreviations—come from the American Heart Association, which is quick to point out that the one every 40 seconds adds up to about half a million a year, making it the número uno cause of death in the United States.
I experienced the first stages of Number One a few nights ago when stricken with severe angina pains. I knew what they were because I have suffered from heart disease for almost 30 years and should have called 911 instantly. I didn’t.
Instead, I told my wife, the patient Cinelli, who could not believe I was lying there like a wounded dog doing nothing about my malady but whimpering to her. She called the paramedics herself, not desiring to be a party to the death of a stubborn old man who believed he was indestructible.
Off we went at 2 a.m. to West Hills Hospital, where an angiogram and then angioplasties were performed on two arteries. The latter is a procedure that involves snaking a wire up the arteries and inflating tiny balloons to remove any blockage, then adding stents to keep the arteries open.
I’ve had it done many times before and have always avoided being the One in Forty, as you may have already suspected, because I am still alive after about 3,600 seconds of writing. The procedure itself involves a certain risk that could end in death, but your options are limited once you reach the angioplasty stage.
I’m here to advise you that it might be best to quit smoking, lose weight and eat your collard greens than having a wire stuck up an artery to your heart from an incision in your groin. While the pain of the procedure is minimal, I would rather die than have a female nurse shave my pubic hair again to avoid bacteria, as necessary as that might be.
It just isn’t, well, manly.