|♫ Happiness is Lubbock, Texas, in your review mirror ♫|
My wife remembers me shopping for Thanksgiving and coming home with Cornish Game Hens. It was our first Thanksgiving together as a family of four, and the last time we had Cornish Game Hens for our Thanksgiving dinner.
|Sheppard AFB Hospital|
Although the patient has had one episode of “pericarditis” [in quotes because this episode was thought to be an artifact of the surgery] since surgery two years ago (in comparison with nine episodes...prior to pericardiectomy), his prognosis appears to be excellent. It is possible that he will have recurrent episodes; however, the paucity of attacks since the pericardiectomy appears to be an excellent prognostic sign. He has absolutely no evidence of reduction of cardiovascular function and is totally asymptomatic in the interval between attacks and at the present time. The patient can go worldwide.
For many years I was unable to sleep on my right side -- the side of my original thoracotomy -- because I felt my heart beating. I think this was psychological. I always checked in with a cardiologist wherever I was assigned. And I got a waiver to the flu shot required by the Air Force, because there was a worry that I might get a repeat of whatever caused the inflammation of my pericardial tissue. I don't worry about that anymore; I worry more about getting the flu.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone without a pericardium playing football (although I did play touch football during my assignment to the Pentagon in 1968). Certainly a person without a pericardium is more vulnerable to cardiac injury, say as the result of an automobile accident, but beyond that, people without a pericardium can, and do, live a relatively normal life.
I went for 11.5 minutes on my stress test last year. That's 1.6 minutes less than I did in 1966 when I was 28 years old. My EKGs are normal. My blood pressure is usually about 114/76.
|Prepped for for a heart monitor. Right scar was the window, left scar was the pericardiectomy.|
The one thing I'd change if I could is how self-absorbed I was when I was going through the worst phases of the disease, the operation, and the medical board. It was a very difficult time for my wife and I didn't spend enough time with her talking through things and listening to her concerns. It's a testament to her courage, loyalty, and love that she not only stuck with me, but supported me all along the way.
What's it like living without a pericardium? Great! That's the whole point. Before I had this life- threatening experience, I was a moody fellow who wanted to get out of the Air Force as soon as my 4-year obligation was up and write poetry about love and death. Being face-to-face with death changed that. I realized I wanted to live, and I realized that life was a gift. As strange as it seems, having pericarditis and all that went with it, made me a much happier person.