Today I had lunch at Pei Wei only because Pick Up Stix no longer is in business. And the meal I had at Pick Up Stix two years ago today was significant because it vaguely held the possibility of being my own personal Last Supper.
Two years ago a this time, I was checking into Arrowhead Hospital’s cardiac unit in preparation for valve repair surgery the following day. After spending two months with congestive heart failure, pride had taken a back seat to practicality and I sat in the entirely too small wheelchair (CHF makes you bloat and I wasn’t exactly small to start with), waiting to be admitted and pretending that I wasn’t totally freaked out about typing a list of websites and passwords for my wife … just in case.
Getting upstairs there was a heart-shaped pillow waiting for me that soon became my best friend as I tried to get out of bed, out of chairs, sleep, walk, cough … and sneeze, scream, curse, and sob quietly to myself. (My eldest asked in the pillow helped when I sneezed after having my chest cracked. I told her that it absolutely did – it soaked up the tears after every sneeze.)
Work was on hold. Hell, everything was on hold – including my heartbeat for a while the next day when I was on a heart-lung machine. More on that in a bit.
The good news of all of this, obviously, is I’m here today with my zipper scar. And while anyone who goes through this has a new-found appreciation for life, mine has managed to manifest itself as a total lack of patience for utter b.s. I no longer do meetings, I no longer have tolerance for having my time wasted because, in the grand scheme of life, we all only have so many ticks of the clock.
That’s probably not the attitude that you’d see on your garden variety back to school special but, hey – I’m a curmudgeon. I had two valves repaired, not a lobotomy and personality transplant.
The whole heart-lung machine issue has led to a philosophical debate in our house. Since I was in fact dead for a little while, does that mean I’ve now held up my end of the wedding vows that require us to be together until death us too part? Is there a specific time limit on how long I would have needed to be dead before I could declare myself to be a free agent?
This is especially relevant because in three days is my eighth wedding anniversary to my amazingly patient bride Kathie. Why she has put up with me this long should be clear to all – I’m not only clearly brilliant but, as you can see, I brighten any room that I happen to enter – granted, it’s by the white-hot heat of 10,000 raging suns – but brightened the rooms are nevertheless.
While it’s somewhat stunning she has put up with me this long, I’m eminently happy that she has … well, except for the beagle proliferation which I mention only because one currently is begging for dinner three hours ahead of time.
Last and in this case quite least, this coming Thursday marks my eight year anniversary in real estate – I activated the license two days after our wedding, after asking some questions of my soon-to-be-owner about two hours before the ceremony. Mr. Romantic, that is me.
It’s been both great and terrible, rewarding and frustrating, joyful and heart-wrenching … and all of that usually in the same day. (Now that I think of it, the same probably can be said of marriage but that’s another story for another day.)
In any event, for the latter two anniversaries, through all the ups and downs I wouldn’t have it anyway. And as for the first of the three anniversaries, I can’t argue that the outcome beat the hell out of the alternative.