Letter From Milo: Little Secrets

November 5th, 2018
A long time ago I discovered that a married man has to keep some things to himself. For example, I never tell my wife about my affairs, gambling debts, opium habit, prison record, or the child support payments I’ve been making for the past 30 years. Its not that she wouldn’t be totally supportive, you understand, its simply a matter of not wanting to worry her needlessly.


For the last six weeks, however, I’ve been keeping a secret from her and it’s been eating away at me.


If you recall, I recently enrolled in the VA hospital health care system. One of the first things they wanted me to do was take a physical. I thought it was a good idea. I haven’t had a physical in years, which is stupid, considering my somewhat advanced age.


They put me through a battery of tests – blood, x-rays – the usual shit. The doctor told me that I seemed to be in pretty good shape, considering that I’m a smoker, drinker and eater of red meat. He’d have to wait until the test results came back, however, before he was prepared to give me a clean bill of health. I made an appointment to see him again the following week.


When I met with the doctor again, he had a grim look on his face. He had one of my x-rays on his desk. He held it up, pointed to it and said, “It looks like you’ve got an enlarged heart.”


I think I can speak for most people when I say that the last things you want to hear from your doctor are the words cancer and anything having to do with the heart.


“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, nervously.


“I can’t tell until we do a couple of more tests. But if it’s an enlarged heart it’s not good.”


We made an appointment for six weeks later for more extensive testing.


When I left the VA hospital, I decided not to tell my wife about my possible enlarged heart. She’s a worrier and right now there’s a lot of stress in our lives. I didn’t want to add another layer on the shitcake. Besides, I wouldn’t know for sure whether I did, indeed, have a heart problem for another six weeks. I decided that the only person that should be worried during that time period was me.


It was a long six weeks. I tried to carry on normally, but my family sensed something was amiss. One day my wife said, “The girls think there’s something wrong with you.”


“Why would they say that?”


“Because you’re acting weird.”


“Shit, honey, I’m a weird guy.”


“Yeah, but you’re acting weirder than usual.”


“Heh, heh, I’ll have a talk with them later.”


I’ll admit I was nervous when I went back to the VA hospital for the additional testing. I’ve always taken my health for granted. I come from hearty peasant stock. I figured I was like Keith Richards, someone who defied the laws of nature. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe my time was up. Maybe I had just made a down payment on 40 acres. Maybe I was on my way to Graceland and didn’t even know it. All sorts of odd thoughts went through my mind, the majority of them gloomy.


I went through a whole series of tests. One of them was, I think, called an echocardiogram. It involved me lying flat on some sort of conveyor belt while I was slowly fed through a contraption that looked like an iron lung on steriods. All in all, I spent about two hours at the hospital, being poked, prodded, bled, x-rayed and magnetically imaged.


“I’ll let you know the results as soon as they come in,” the doctor told me.


The doctor called the next morning. “I’ve got good news for you,” he said. “You don’t have an enlarged heart. You have an enlarged artery and that’s not really anything to worry about.”


As soon as I got off the phone, I told my wife the whole story. She looked at me in disbelief.


“You ASSHOLE! Why didn’t you tell me right away?”


“I didn’t want you to worry. Besides, I wanted to know for sure if there was a problem.”


“So, that why you’ve been acting like an idiot for the last few weeks.”


“I thought I was acting normal.”


“No you weren’t. You’ve been moping around like a 10-year-old. Plus you’ve been drinking way too much.”


“Honey I was a little out of sorts. A little wine helped me sleep better.”


“No it didn’t. The wine just made you drunk.”


“Well, yes, that too.”


“Promise me you’ll never keep secrets like that from me again.”


“Sure thing, honey. Whatever you say.”


Milo Samardzija’s great American novel, “Schoolboy,” is on sale now. If you haven’t bought a copy yet you are a cheap illiterate. Is that how you want people to think of you? – The Eds.

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