Archive for December, 2009

Enjoy Every Sandwich, Part II

Someone who has had a heart attack will have damage to the heart muscle. Elevated levels of troponin I in the blood stream are indicative of damage to the heart muscle.

Blood levels of troponin I in people without cardiac damage is, essentially, zero. Seven days after having chest pain, the troponin I level in my blood was 1.87. According to some graphs I’ve seen on the internet, the day after my heart attack, my troponin I levels may well have been over 100.

The number, however, doesn’t matter. What matter is that they found troponin I in my blood. And that is always bad.

The last we talked, I’d just been to my doctor being followed up for chest pain that I’d felt several days before. The chest pain had been getting less and less, halving itself every day. I’d convinced myself that my chest pain was gastrointestinal or bronchial in nature.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I called X-Ray Associates while simultaniously making only reservations at Quest Labs to get my blood tests. The earliest I could wrangle all these together was Thursday–three days after my doctor’s appointment and a full week after having chest pain.

Feeling better after seeing my doctor, I went about my business as usual. That evening I help teach the Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class and returned to take the Advanced Class.

During “live training” at the Advanced Class, I got winded after only one round (5 minutes) of fighting. I sat in a chair beside the mats to catch my breath. My good friend, Richie, called over to me, “You okay, Jim?”

I assured him that I was. I figured my low endurance was a product of just getting over a cold. “Just winded, Richie. I’m fine.”

Unconvinced, he asked again but this time slowly and starkly, “Are you okay?”

“Just winded.”

Normally I catch my breath and get right back on the mat. Tonight, I put my gi in my bag and go home.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

I wake up alive. Everything else is secondary.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

At 8:15 AM I arrive at Quest Labs to get my blood drawn. Within the series of tubes is blood destined to be separated into a piece of lab equipment that scores troponin I levels.

By 9AM, I’m at X-Ray Associates. First, I get a  gallbladder ultrasound that has become the focus of attention for my physician. “Do you know why you’re here?” the ultrasound tech asks.

“To get a gall bladder ultrasound.”

“Do you know why?”

“Not really. I assume to rule out gallstones, but I have no pain and no tenderness. I think my doctor felt something that she didn’t like during my physical.”

After the test, the tech says, “I can’t give you the results, but you have nothing to worry about. If you know what I mean.”

Oh. I had plenty to worry about, but none of it had anything to do with my gallbladder.

Then a chest x-ray and home with wife. I take the day off. We eat soup and sandwiches while waiting for our youngest to return from kindergarten.

That evening, I help teach the Kids Jiu-Jitsu class. I also help teach the Beginners Class–leading them through warm-ups, assisting the instructor, and drilling out the techniques with a white belt.

For some reason, I decide not to take the Advanced Class. I go home and have dinner with my family.

Friday, 11 December 2009

I wake up alive again and go to work.

Fast-forward to 3PM. My wife calls me at the office. “Your doctor called. She wants you to go to the emergency room. Your troponin I level is elevated. She thinks you may have had a heart attack.”

… to be continued …

Enjoy Every Sandwich, Part I

In David Letterman’s last interview with the dying Warren Zevon, Letterman asked:

From your perspective now, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know now?

Zevon answered:

Not unless I know how much <pause> how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich.

And here I sit preparing to eat a sandwich made almost thoughtlessly, but ever-so-caringly, by my wife. She doesn’t realize the symbolic importance of this sandwich.

Two weeks ago, I had a heart attack. Maybe I should bring you back there …

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 8PM

I’d just finished jiu-jitsu class. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes usually end with several rounds of live training. Sparring. Fighting against a fully resisting opponent. This night was typical. And, as typical, it was exhausting. My gi was soaked with sweat.

I was feeling weak as I left and grabbed an apple, which I ate quickly, hoping it would up my energy level. I drank a full bottle of water.

On the ride home, I had pain in the center of my chest. Substernal chest pain. Bad, and getting worse.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that apple and guzzled that water,” I thought.

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 9:00PM

I complain to my wife about my worsening chest pain. I’m getting concerned, but like most people having a heart attack, I’m wishing it away as indigestion or gastric reflux. “Honey, do we have any Maalox or Tums?” “No.”

Thursday, 3 December 2009, 9:30PM

The pain is worsening. I’m in bed lying near my wife. “If this pain gets any worse, I’m going to have to go to the hospital.”

“If you have to go, then go.”

I wait and hope for the pain to go away. I go downstairs to drink a little milk, hoping that it will ease the pain. It does, but only as the cold milk slides past my heart. As soon as the coldness subsides, the pain returns.

I should go to the hospital, but don’t. Instead I go to Target to pickup antacids.

In Target, I’m in a near panic. The pain is that severe. There are people in front of me. Slow people. Christmas shopping. I need to get to the pharmacy aisle. Now! I need my antacid. This pain is too much. These people need to get out of my way. Please, people. Please.

On the way out of the store, I pop three, four, five, six tums. I suck on them hoping that they’ll go down slowly, coat my esophagus, and ease the pain in my chest. Nothing.

On the way home, I pass two EMS ambulances waiting outside a house. I think, “I can just stop there. They don’t need both ambulances. Two responded; they only need one. The other will take me to the hospital.” I don’t stop.

And then I think, “Just drive straight to the hospital. Call Sandi from the emergency room. Tell her you couldn’t take the pain anymore.”

I don’t. I go home. Take a couple of Tylenol and go to sleep.

This is the third worst pain I’ve ever had:

  • The second worst was when I “burst” (orthopedic’s surgeon’s word, not mine) my fibula while sliding into home plate.
  • The first worst was when I essentially had a vasectomy without anesthesia.

This is up there. I described the pain as an eight on a scale of 10. (10 being the time some schmoe cut into my nutsack without properly numbing it first.)

Friday, 4 December 2009, 7AM

Luckily, I wake up alive.

The chest pain from the night before is still there. I figure it’s about half as bad as what it was. I convince myself it was the apple I ate and go to work.

Still, I call my doctor and try to get an appointment for that day. She can’t see me, but I make an appointment for Monday. I can’t go first thing in the morning because I have work obligations. We make the appointment for 1:15PM.

Satuday, 5 December 2009, 8AM

Once again, I’ve woken up alive. I didn’t think anything of it. Again, the chest pain is half what it was the day before.

Saturday, 5 December 2009, 9AM

I help teach the childrens no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. Several of the older kids (14-years-old or so), take a shot at the title. I defeat them all handily.

Saturday, 5 December 2009, 11AM

I take the advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. For most of the live training, I do what I call “hiding in a hole.” I get in a defensive posture and wait for my opponent to make a mistake. It conserves energy. Even with that, I am completely wiped by the end of class. I attribute it to getting over a recent cold.

Sunday, 6 December 2009, 8AM

Again, I wake up alive. I still don’t realize the importance of this.

Sunday, 6 December 2009, 11AM

It’s cold. Mid-30s Fahrenheit.

I join my wife on her daily 2-mile walk through Cattus Island Park. I almost immediately get a sharp pain in my chest. I attribute it to the cold air going down my trachea. Bronchospasm, I figure. It’s normal. Especially after getting over a cold.

Only I know better. I’ve worked and played out in the cold my entire life. I never get chest pain. I never get short of breath. This walking, I try not to admit to myself, is getting me out of breath.

I ask my wife to slow down.

Halfway through our walk, which she usually does briskly and often with a jog in the middle, I ask her if we can explore the bay beach. We do. She keeps asking if I want to sit down. I don’t. I tough it out.

The walk back gets me nervous. I don’t tell her. It’s the first time I admit to myself that something’s wrong. I’m scared.

I wanted to spend the afternoon putting up Christmas lights for the kids. I don’t. Instead, I lay on the couch. Vegging. Watching football. Wondering why I feel so exhausted after such a simple walk and praying that my chest doesn’t start hurting again.

It doesn’t. But I feel like a lazy jerk for not putting up lights for the kids.

Monday, 7 December 2009, 7AM

I wake up alive.  Again, I don’t know how lucky I am.

Today I have little, if any, chest pain. Maybe some discomfort, but no big deal.

I figure the acid reflux or esophageal damage I did while eating my apple is healing.

Monday, 7 December 2009, 9AM

I arrive at work, as usual, and have more things to do than I can ever pray to get done. Just a regular work day.

Monday, 7 December 2009, 1:15PM

I arrive at my doctor’s office and tell her my story.

I am now, essentially, pain free. She does a routine check up on me as I haven’t had one in almost two years.

She prescribes some tests, including a chest x-ray and routine blood work.

“I think your chest pain is probably GI,” she says. “Maybe you tore something when you ate the apple. Maybe you have an esophageal ulcer. Maybe reflux.” She recommends I go see a GI doctor.

But before I leave she takes the prescriptions back. “You know, because of the chest pain, I’d like to add a troponin level to your blood work.” This will eventually change everything.

Continued: Enjoy Every Sandwich, Part II

The Cost of Strange

By now we all know that Tiger Woods’s wife chased him out of the house with a golf club. As he was trying to leave she busted out the windows of his Cadillac Escalade. This resulted in Tiger bouncing his car off a fire hydrant, into a tree, and knocking him silly.

We all also know that Tiger’s wife went on this tirade because she discovered that he was having sex with other women without her permission. (Tiger probably didn’t seek her permission because he knew she’d say “Get the fuck out of here.” At least, that’s what my wife would say.)

Turns out that Tiger has been banging women that aren’t his wife since 2007 or so. Not surprisingly, that’s the year Mrs. Woods had her (and Tiger’s) first child.

Now the entire world knows Tiger Woods’ personal business. We know he enjoys the club scene. We know he enjoys, ahem, sexting (texting in a sexually indiscreet manner). We know he likes to shag floosies.

He likes a little strange on his hang-low.

This has me wondering, “Was it worth it?” And by “worth it”, I mean what it’s ultimately going to cost him financially. What will it cost Tiger Woods, per act, to have sex with women other than Mrs. Woods.

I’m going to assume that Tiger had sex with trollops and assorted comfort women on at least 78 occasions. Here’s my math:

  1. Since 2007, Tiger Woods has played in 52 professional golf events. I’m going to assume he had a chickie-poo in half those events: 26.
  2. Each golf event is 5-6 days long including practice rounds and Tiger will have to get a room for those nights. Let’s assume he has sex at least half those nights. I’m calling it: 3.
  3. 3 sexual encounters at 26 events equals 78 sex acts.

Let’s assume that his marriage is going to end because of his indiscretions. His wife reportedly has a $300 million prenuptial agreement.

At that, it will have cost him $3.85 million per coital communication. ($300 million/78 sex acts = $3,846,153.80 per fuck).

But I’m not going to stop there. Tiger makes a cool $100 million per year in endorsements. I’m going to assume that he’s going to lose 10% of said endorsements. That’s $100,000,000 over ten years.

If I’m right, in 10 years it will have cost Mr. Woods $5.13 million dollars per roll under the hotel sheets. ($300 million prenup + $100 million dollars lost endorsement revenue / 78 sex acts = $5,128,205.10 per fuck.)

That’s my math. You can disagree and use your own figures if you’d like.

Regardless, I think we’d both agree that it would have been much cheaper for Tiger if he’d developed the unhealthy habit of snapping his zippy to cheap hotel porn.