Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

You Gotta Have Heart

My apologies for taking so long to get this post up. You see, I’ve had a couple of adventures.
     The first was a two-week trip to Switzerland with my wonderful wife Geri, a celebration of our 50 years of marriage. (More about that in the “Something Different” section to the right).
     The second was what happened to me during and after that trip. (More about that below.)
       For all of the vacation, I was feeling somewhat out of breath. I figured that was because of the altitude – we got up to 11,000 feet – and the excitement of seeing so many beautiful things. But when I got back home to sea level and the shortness of breath persisted, I thought I probably should call my doctor. I did, she agreed, and promptly slapped me into the hospital for four days of treatment for atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. Those last three words shocked me. I figured you only heard them in conjunction with an obituary.
     Turns out congestive heart failure can be a process, as well as a single, final event. In my case, those two weeks of shortness of breath and irregular, rapid heartbeat were signs that something needed serious fixing.
     Medication brought the heart rate back into the ballpark. But it seems the cause of all my problems is the mitral valve in my heart. I’ve had mitral valve prolapse all my life – for me, it’s congenital – and now, after 76 years, that valve is starting to act too funky for my own good.
     It needs repair, which is scheduled for the end of this month via non-invasive surgery. I’ll let you know how everything turns out.
     But your main take-away from all this should be the reminder that if anything seems amiss in your life, health wise, call your doctor. Don’t delay. Get it fixed.
     I wouldn’t want to read about congestive heart failure in your obituary.

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