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[The Story of my Heart-segment 1]
It’s Thursday, November 8, 2007. I have an early morning pre-colonoscopy appointment with the buttologist (Gastroenterologist) Orville K. Vander Griend in Bellingham, Washington. I’m seated in the exam room, feeling a little dizzy, which I tell myself is a normal case of nerves. My wife Marlis sits beside me. Marlis and I instantly like Dr. Vander Griend the moment he enter the room. After a brief introduction he looks at me, frowns, and asks if the skin color in my face is normal. Marlis confirms doctor as soon as possible for a checkup. We schedule the colonoscopy for November 20. Later I ask myself, “Why didn’t I take his advice?” Perhaps it’s the age-old problem of denial or maybe it’s the macho male attitude I was raised with in the old country that real men never cry or show pain. I manage to convince myself nothing is wrong with me—I’m just feeling a little sluggish. Instead of seeing my doctor, I continue my regular workouts at the gym. Everything about my life seems normal, except periodically I awaken in the mornings with a lot of blood in my nose. Since nosebleeds are often a common occurrence, I don’t pay much attention to this. Later that month at my colonoscopy appointment, Dr. Vander Griend looks worried after listening to my chest with his stethoscope.
“Your heartbeat is quite sporadic,” he tells us. He isn’t comfortable, but decides to proceed with the examination to be certain I don’t have any problems in this area.
When I awaken from the anesthetic I feel a bit shaky, but the nurse tells me everything is in order. Nothing unusual was found.
However, Dr. G is still concerned about the color of my face and my unstable heart rate. Again, he urges me to have my regular doctor conduct more tests. On the way home, I’m glad Marlis is driving. When we get home I plop into a chair and promptly doze off. I awaken about 3:00 p.m. and vaguely remember that Jacquie, our daughter, called from Germany. I am floating in and out of consciousness. I eventually awaken enough to do some work in the home office. Overall, it has been a good day and I’m glad to have the procedure over with.
I start working out on the elliptical exerciser at the gym, and after ten minutes it records a pulse rate of 225.
“Wow!” I say to myself. “That’s a little high.”
I back off and my heart rate goes down to around 155 – 159.
I don’t give it much thought.
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From congenital heart defect to cardiogenic shock, open heart surgery and a defibrillator at age 68 to endurance Athlete at age 75. Segments of "The Story of my Heart" will be published weekly on Fridays. What inspires you?
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