Letter From Milo: Check Please

March 10th, 2019

There are wonderful things you can hear from your doctor. For me, the ideal would be, “Milo, sir, you are a magnificent physical specimen. You can continue smoking, drinking, eating red meat, gambling, scandalizing the neighbors and fornicating for another 50 years.”

On the other hand, the last words you want to hear from your doctor are “cancer” or “heart disease.” Unfortunately, I heard those dreaded words from my doctor a few weeks ago.

No, it isn’t cancer. It’s heart disease.

Technically, it’s not heart disease, it’s a heart condition. It’s called Arterial Stenosis (you can look it up) and I’ve had it all my life and never knew it.

As my physicians, both graduates of the Triple A College of Surgery & Tuckpointing in Gary, Indiana, explained it, I have a sticky heart valve. That means that when the heart squeezes blood out of the chamber, the valve doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the chamber. As a result, there’s not enough blood circulating through my system. The heart has to work harder, and, like most muscles, the harder it works the bigger it gets.

So, my heart is now slightly enlarged. Unless the condition is remedied it will continue to get larger until it’s as swollen as an Irishman’s liver on the morning after St. Patrick’s Day. Then, I don’t know, I suppose it’ll probably explode, leaving me in a rather delicate situation.

Here’s a bit of the discussion I had with my physicians, Drs. Loeb and Leopold:

“So, what are my options?”

“Actually, you’ve got some options.”

“What are they?”

“The first option is surgery. We can fix the valve and you can live a normal life. In fact, you’ll feel better than you have in years.”

“What’s the second option?”

“You heart will start failing in a couple of years and you’ll die.”

“What’s the third option?”

“There is no third option.”

“Darn.”

To be honest, I haven’t felt that well in the last couple of years. I’ve always prided myself on being a fairly strong person, but in the last few years I’ve felt a sense of weakness that I attributed to the aging process. I had no idea that the feeling of weakness was due to a heart condition.

Out of curiosity, I asked the doctors if lifestyle had anything to do with my condition. They said that my lifestyle was definitely to blame. Although Arterial Stenosis is a congenital condition, heavy drinking and smoking certainly aggravated the situation.

So, there you have it. I stayed at the table too long, ordering everything on the menu. Now, the waiter has presented the check and I’m going through my pockets to see if I have enough to cover the tab.

Surgery is scheduled for October 6th. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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