Stayin’ Alive

Well, it’s Friday afternoon, I’m back home, and it appears that I might not be “falling off the branch” just yet after all.

At about 6:45 on Thursday morning, cardiologist Dr. William Cole appeared at my bedside, having had a chance to review not just the summary of my test results from the previous day, but also the primary data themselves. It appears that some mistake had been made: my echocardiogram in fact showed no aortic stenosis at all. It may be that the summary had been taken from someone else’s test data. This was a tremendous relief, as a narrowed aorta is a very dangerous (and life-altering) condition.

The possibility of slight ischemia suggested by my stress test was, however, reason enough to go through with the cardiac catheterization and angiography, just to know where matters stood, so go through with it I did. The procedure involves the insertion of a catheter, through the groin, into the femoral artery, and thenceforth up to the heart. The technicians release dye into the coronary arteries, and create images that show how clear or blocked they are. If serious blockage is found, a stent is inserted on the spot — and if things are bad enough, they whisk you straight off for bypass surgery. All of this loomed as being very likely to me going in, because despite all my kung-fu training, and fairly regular physical exercise of other sorts, my lifestyle has been far from abstemious over the past 40 years (to put it mildly) — and since 2001 or so I’ve been a “software developer”: a lifeform that is, during income-gathering hours, as sessile as a limpet.

I’m happy to report, however, that in brazen defiance of the odds, and despite my many years of shameless dissipation and excess, all of my coronary arteries were completely clear (with the minor exception of the diagonal branch of the left coronary artery, which showed some slight narrowing, but nothing worth stenting). So they sent me packing late last night, exhausted and with an aching groin, but very relieved indeed.

I must thank all of you again for all the kind words in comments and emails over the past few days. I am very grateful to have made so many new friends here over the past few years; you have all enriched my life more than I can tell you, and I look forward to bickering with all of you for many years to come.

Finally, let’s all keep in our thoughts commenter Peter Lupu, who is on the road to visit his girlfriend, who has just undergone brain surgery. I hope that she will make a swift and sure recovery, and that Peter will be back in no time to bastinado me once again for my ignorance.

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  1. Addofio says

    Good news, and congratulations. Have a good weekend.

    (So does all this mean you have a green light for continued dissipation–or that this is a good time to ease off? I’m just curious. . .)

    Posted August 1, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Addofio,

    Thanks very much!

    You ask a very good question, and one that is very much “in the air” chez Pollack. My lovely wife Nina would, I am sure, have a ready answer, but I’m still thinking it all over.

    Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Glad to hear this, Malcolm. Your experience was, nevertheless, a reminder that our time is limited and that we must make the most of what time we do have.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  4. peter says

    Well Malcolm,

    I am happy to hear you are all well and back home. It is indeed very good news. And I am sure your wife and family are all relieved. We are all happy you are back home and well.

    I am wondering what type of mistake was made. I went through a similar mistake many years ago when I had Bell’s palsy. I was supposed to have some x-rays of my brain to rule out a neurological cause. But just when I was ready to go in a woman came in with an emergency involving severe headache. So they let her in before me. Well, when I came out they confused my results with hers and it was somewhat scary for a while.

    It happened in July. Subsequently a nurse told me that during July and August such mistakes are common because the permanent staff is on vacation during these months.

    Malcolm, thanks for mentioning my situation. She is doing well and recuperating very quickly. So the first step in this battle is going well. I am hoping that the next steps will go just as well.

    I am driving back to AZ on Monday and then towards the end of next week off I fly to my daughter’s wedding in NJ.

    I hope I can be back contributing here and on Bill’s site towards the middle of August.

    Again, happy to hear that you are cleared. Here is a case of a mistake that gave you the opportunity to be checked thoroughly and that is a good result.


    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:27 pm | Permalink
  5. Charles says


    I’m glad to hear that things turned out well. All things considered, a sore groin is a small price to pay.

    Posted August 2, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  6. Kevin Kim says

    Glad tidings, indeed.


    Posted August 2, 2008 at 3:41 am | Permalink
  7. bob koepp says

    Good news! We’ll have Malcolm to kick around for at least awhile longer. It’s great that nothing serious was uncovered. (But what caused the discomfort that sent you to the ER a couple days ago?) I’m still hoping it was mild heat stress — and I think you should still “take care.”

    And Peter, I hope things contiune to move smoothly toward a good recovery for your girlfriend.

    Posted August 2, 2008 at 8:54 am | Permalink
  8. peter says


    Indeed! What caused that discomfort? I hope they gave Malcolm a clear answer to that question.

    Thanks. It will be a long struggle. But I am not giving an inch.


    Posted August 2, 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  9. David Pauley says

    Hi Malcolm, glad you are well. Many years ago I remember you pronouncing, “Meat is good and good for you.” Perhaps the cream and mutton diet of you ancestors resulted in your arterial tolerance for robust cuisine. More haggis for you!

    Posted August 2, 2008 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  10. the one eyed man says

    I recommend a daily breakfast of Milk Duds and black coffee. Tastes great, and has all of the major food groups covered.

    And for the guy who wants to live to be one hundred: barbecued ribs and Jack Daniel’s. (Not for breakfast, though. Well, maybe for breakfast.)

    Posted August 2, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Thanks once again all.

    I do have the feeling that if I were to switch to a diet of rainwater and steamed vegetables, I’d probably be dead in a fortnight — so continued dissipation seems, to me at least, to be the most sensible and salubrious prescription. However, my lovely and patient wife Nina — whose peace of mind I must take into consideration — may have a slightly different view. We’ll have to see.

    Posted August 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  12. Malcolm, welcome back – so happy to hear things are ok (or at least much better)… sorry I missed you in NYC.

    Posted August 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
  13. Malcolm says

    Thanks Salim! Yes, I am beginning to get back to normal now. I’m about to spend a couple of weeks in Wellfleet — delivered, for a fortnight, from tedious and sedentary toil at my desk in Midtown — and that should do me a world of good.

    Posted August 10, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Permalink