This heart stuff ain’t no joke, honey. I’ve had so many Cat Scans that I must be radioactive by now. If you don’t know and I didn’t, a Cat Scan or CT scan, computerized axial tomography, is an x-ray procedure that combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body! I swear if you put a Geiger counter near me you would run the other way. I kid you not my skin color is now green. The CT scan machine is like a huge doughnut shaped wheel that whirls and whizzes as white lights flash...look for the light....! A disembodied female voice that sounds like those we can’t get out of our phones, the ones that answer all the calls we make to complain about a product, would periodically tell me to hold my breath. Being a good little patient I held my breath so long I thought I must have turned orange, doesn’t do well with green, because of the iodine drip in my arm. When the poisonous dye was released into my vein I got hit by a flash of heat that began behind my eyes and quickly spread to my groin. I felt the way a pubescent boy must feel when he first fondles a breast.
When I had heart surgery in 1948, the treadmill test consisted of me running up and down the back stairs of San Francisco’s UC Hospital and then a doctor listening to my heart. On one occasion I was taken to an ”old folks” home at The Laguna Honda, so doctors could check my heart with the only available machine of its kind called a phonocardiogram. It’s different now but in some ways the same, the same fear, sweat, exhaustion. And loneliness.
Yesterday I met with a heart surgeon at Cedars Sinai Hospital. He said I have bicuspid syndrome and went to great lengths to explain what that means. What it means to me is that I need to have major heart surgery within a month. The doctor spent two hours with me, drawing pictures and explaining that I was born with this problem that has grown worse with age. Well, goodness gracious, one would think that one heart surgery in a lifetime would be enough, now wouldn’t you? But my aortic valve has narrowed dangerously and I also have an aneurysm that will need to be corralled during surgery. And, interestingly, to me at least, is the fact that bicuspid disease is caused by a family gene. I was advised to alert my blood relatives so they can have an aortic checkup.
So, hey all you blood relatives consider yourselves alerted.
But, seriously, with it all, I have met so many kind, funny, loving and supportive medical personnel, that it is gratifying. I’m grateful that my heart can be mended but still, as they say, the only minor surgery is that performed on someone else. Lordy, darlin’, I sure didn’t need this problem.
Causes Pat Montandon Supports
PETA, Women for Women, Amnesty International, Children as the Peacemakers, Peace to The Planet