"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding watercolor, metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"It's just plumbing"--the heart of our engineering

"Daddy, it's just plumbing," said my daughter Dallas when I told her I was spending today at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
She's was not being flippant, but trying to reassure me, after we learned my heart  had dangerous levels of calcium deposit more than a month ago. And she is married to a doctor, is really level-headed, and offered other calming advice and comments. For plumbing as old as mine, some aging was expected, but it's held up well over the years.
This plumbing map caught and kept my attention
I'd gone in for one of those $50 calcium heart scans. Last one 10 years ago showed no problems. This one shook me, indicated serious plumbing problems...not critical, but certainly not to be discounted if you want the plumbing to work right. (Below 400 is acceptable--oops).
And in spite of my doctor and cardiologist saying on a scale of one to 10 I had nothing to be scared of, it was still disconcerting. Especially considering my family history--Dad died of a heart attack and my younger brother Jerry had a bypass about 10 years ago.
"You can't choose your parents," said my doctor with a laugh, noting that my "numbers"--cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. were good. BP is regulated, weight is under control, non-smoker, and I exercise (some). Susan's a good cook and we don't eat much fried or fatty foods.
But today was the visit to the "plumbers" --nuclear stress test and ultrasound, and then a visit with the OHHC's great staff and plumbing expert, the cardiologist.
I knew that a stint was possible, or more medication, or whatever, and dreaded the worst, naturally.
Most unnerving thing today was watching the ultrasound of my heart. I could see it beating away as the tech took photos on a fancy computer. And then from time to time, I could see the valves opening and shutting and hearing the blood gurgle through the arteries.
It's very humbling really, looking at that fist-sized thing pumping away, knowing that it is my life in front of me, still going after all these years.
I told the tech that I wished we had a backup. After all, we have two lungs, two eyes, two kidneys, two arms and hands and two legs and feet.
It seems like The Engineer forgot to put in a spare, so not taking care of or repairing this piece of equipment is very expensive if not fatal.
The lesson was apparent, and I came away determined to enjoy today, this minute.
Oh, the plumbing findings?
Better than I could have hoped for. No decrease of blood flow, no structural defects. The pump is working normally.   Come back in six months.
I left,  went and bought flowers for our dinner table. After a healthy meal tonight, I'll start more regular exercise tomorrow.
Tonight, I'll raise a thankful toast to the good plumbing, the plumbers, my family, and The Engineer.