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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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Readers Blog: Open Heart Blog

Just Dandy

        I had my six-month cardiologist follow-up Monday. Everything was fine, so he said. Which is exactly what has me worried. Not like I wanted him to find something wrong. I don’t think. Did I? No, that should be good news: “nope, everything’s fine. You’re doing great, now be on your way, my fine fellow.”
        But everything was fine BEFORE I had an emergency quadruple bypass! My cholesterol was well below 200 this time, around 160 or so. But then it always was. It was never above 180, even as they checked me into my hospital room. My blood pressure was “normal” this time, 120 over 84. But I’m taking BP meds, so, I’m thinking, maybe it should be lower, no? But my cardiologist didn’t seem concerned. In fact, he wasn’t concerned about much. And why does that bother me?
        I kept thinking as I was sitting on the edge of his exam table that he was thinking: yeah, he’s an old guy. They’ve hacked him open like a pumpkin so he’s never going to be 100% again, ever. 60, 70% is about all he should expect so why put any more effort into this guy?
        At least that’s where my head went…
        I was part of this “Wellness and Health or Something Or Other Program” that my insurance company was doing. I’d get a call every Friday evening from a nice nurse, an older lady, and we’d talk.
        “Are you taking your meds?”
        “Yep. I’ve only missed, like, three times in the last 3 and a half years.”
        “Wow, that’s good… Exercise?”
        “Cardio, forty minutes, three times a week plus some weights. Yoga twice a week. I walk ten miles a week to and from work and bike ten miles when the weather’s nice.”
        “Whoa, okay… you’re doing fine there. Diet?”
        “Veggies, fish, soy protein, not a lot of red meat, fiber.” 
        She stopped calling after a while. Every call was the same. I was meeting or exceeding their guidelines, doing everything her other callers usually skip. I did most of that stuff before I had my heart thing and yet I still had my heart thing. I do everything they say in hopes that it’ll make everything okay. And that’s exactly what my cardiologist tells me: “everything’s okay.”
        Too bad I don’t believe him.

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