By Tommy Clarkson from the August 2010 Edition
There once was a sixty-five year old man who refused to think that he was that age. He was 190 pounds, e’rrrr, or so, and he liked to eat. He was not – shall we say – intolerant of alcohol consumption. And years as a jogger had left him with tender knees so he no longer exercised like he once had. He was not unlike many of us.
One day his doctor suggested that he go to Hospital Bernadette in Guadalajara to take a stress test. He, being better patient than health buff and fitness aficionado, said, “OK.” So off on the ETN bus he and his wife went for a day trip to the metropolis in which they always got lost when driving.
Two – not one – English speaking and clearly highly trained young (almost everyone seems young when a person is 65) briefed the gentleman patient on that which he was to do, “hooked him up” to some electronic devices to monitor his heart, pulse, oxygenation levels, and maybe even to determine his level of sex stamina for all he knew!)
Perhaps contrary to what might have seemed the correct conduct, while he undertook the thirty minute or so test, his wife stepped outside, sat on the hospital steps and had a beer and a cigarette. (Good and careful attention to the temple of one’s body appears to run in the family!)
Starting out slow – with an initial blood pressure of 121/90, it increased with each increasingly difficult level. Soon he was furiously pumping away on the stationary bicycle but barely broke into a sweat. But once the test was completed his blood pressure returned to 121/90 within three minutes and the prognosis verbally given – he was in great shape for a man of 65.
Chest puffed and ego great he strode the 25 feet to where his wife now awaited him and boasted, “If I’d only had on my running shoes I could have really smoked ‘em! I’m in great shape and the doctors said that I did fantastic.” 85% blockage of the left ventricle pulmonary artery.
Virtually no blood flow in or going to some rather important areas. Not a good situation and certainly not a pleasant feeling one. But as luck would have it this was the hospital of Dr. Segio Najar Lopez, one of the foremost cardio-vascular surgeons in Mexico. As a result, within mere moments our heart attack man found himself well attended by full surgical crew in the OR.
Calm, assured and clearly confident in the task which lay – literally – before him, via the carotid artery, entered near the groin, (did I say “Ouch”) the surgeon deftly inserted an ultra new, Class IV (still not yet available in the US) stent. Upon completion of the non-evasive surgery his wife was allowed in and presented our man with the most beautiful tearful eyed smile he had ever recalled seeing. And then, within an hour of commencement of the procedure, he was back in a well appointed (much nicer than a lot of motel/hotels stayed in over the years) private room.
While being attended by nurses and directed to rest, he drowsed briefly as his spouse – like he, having not eaten all day – ran downstairs to the drugstore next door and loaded up on healthy nuggets such as (yes, you interpreted that correctly,Sabritas apapas100 gramfitas bagcon ofsolpotato chips with salt) and a carton of assorted chocolate covered cookies. . . we’ll just not mention the nutritional information printed on the box.
Upon her return he hungrily leered at her junk food booty. She, ever the caring, considerate and loving one, graciously shared same with him. Carefully and gently, one after another, she gently lifted to his trembling lips wonderful, greasy chips and shamelessly slavered chocolate cookies into the waiting maw of his mouth. Finally sated, they remembered the doctor’s explicit written instructions for him post surgery and decided to read them. Yes, there right after “Recommendations after percutaneous coronary intervention” was a sort of mention to avoid saturated fats which raise the “bad cholesterol” as are found in it “fried foods” such potato chips and sweets made with “lard, butter or tropical oils” – weren’t at least a couple of those in that small “ingredients” panel on that box of cookies?
A couple of pages away were some of the “Risk factors for cardiovascular health.” H’mmmm. High blood pressure? Check. Sedentary lifestyle? Pretty much. Diet high in transfats, saturated fates and cholesterol? Well, based on the just described snack . . . Overweight? Hey, cut a fellow a bit of slack already!
But, in less than 18 hours he was pronounced fit for travel and headed home . . . though, admittedly, giving pause along the way to a few of his eating habits!
Tommy Clarkson is a bit of a renaissance man. He’s lived and worked in locales as disparate as the 1.2 square mile island of Kwajalein to war-torn Iraq, from aboard he and Patty’s boat berthed out of Sea Bright, NJ to Thailand, Germany, Hawaii and Viet Nam; He’s taught classes and courses on creative writing and mass communications from the elementary grades to graduate level; He’s spoken to a wide array of meetings, conferences and assemblages on topics as varied as Buddhism, strategic marketing and tropical plants; In the latter category he and Patty’s recently book, “The Civilized Jungle” – written for the lay gardener – has been heralded as “the best tropical plant book in the last ten years”; And, according to Trip Advisor, their spectacular tropical creation – Ola Brisa Gardens – is the “Number One Tour destination in Manzanillo”.