Well, this sort of defines good news/bad news. I woke up early to find a voicemail from Alex on my phone. Thinking he was drunk-dialing me — the time stamp was 1:47 a.m. — I retrieved the message to confirm.
Hey, just calling from cardiac ICU at Lutheran Hospital!
Whoa. I hasten to add that exclamation point was a cheery whistle past the graveyard, not a dying gasp, but he was there for a reason. After suffering jaw and arm pain, he mentioned it to his partner Harry, who suggested he should maybe stop by an ER and get himself checked out. An EKG, an ambulance ride, and a middle-of-the-night angioplasty left him with a stent and three nights of lodging at the usual inflated prices.
The good news: The tests showed no significant damage to his heart muscle, and he and Harry will finally have some serious motivation to quit smoking once and for all.
He said he welcomes your good wishes and tributes, and will be back snarking with us as soon as he gets a laptop. You can leave them in the usual place.
Sudden glimpses of our mortality are no fun, are they? I visited my ladyparts doctor last month and got the big three of the crone testing package — Pap, mammogram and my first baseline bone scan. The first two came back clean and clear, but the bone scan showed low bone mineral density stopping well short of osteopenia, but dammitall anyway. I’m back on calcium, which I had been taking but quit for a few months, following one too many late-night shifts spent reading about the conditions in Chinese factories. I decided any supplement that couldn’t be sourced to a nice clean North American facility — and none of them can — could be safely replaced with a sharp Cheddar and extra serving of yogurt. I’ve always been a milk drinker. But my test says I need to go back on the C, and so I am. I pause to note there are side effects. I would say I’m as constipated as a Missouri Synod Lutheran, but that would be cruel, so let me just say: There are side effects. And lots of water and vegetables seems to be taking care of them, but still.
I’ve been a weight lifter for years, which I thought would protect me, but it turns out you can’t outrun your gene pool. And old saws like “you still have your health” have a new, sharper meaning.
So, with that, I think it’s entirely appropriate that we go for a silly, fun, life-affirming bloggage collection today, and trash the only thing I’d set aside, which was the usual grumpy Jane Brody column about the obesity epidemic, although here it is, if you want to read it. It’s not all that grumpy, and sort of annoyingly on point, with today’s subject matter.
Laughter is the best medicine, so how about yet another story from Coozledad that made me guffaw? This…
I was wearing a shirt my ex-girlfriend had given me. It was a gauzy Indian prince thing that showed my bluish ribcage and my tiny pale nipples, shrieking for oxygen and nutrients. If you were to hold a pistol to my temporal bone and force me put the same shirt on now, it would look like someone trying to strain an entire village’s yearly production of mozzarella though a decorative cheesecloth.
…is but one of the many knee-slappers therein. Although, C., you need to take another look at your coding. Double-return after your paragraphs. I’m not seeing any breaks.
Cute Overload, just because.
One of those funny sign collections, also just because. But some chuckles are therein.
Feel free to add whatever you like, because obviously I’m scraping bottom here. And it’s Tuesday, which is the second crush day of my week, so I must run. Get well soon, Alex — we need you here.
Dorothy said on September 13, 2011 at 10:02 am
Yes, get well soon, Alex and please quit the smokes. And I can’t believe how this hangout frequently seems to parallel what happens in my private life. I don’t keep track but I’m guessing it’s in the double digits so far.
Yesterday I pulled into my parking space and behind me followed my co-worker M. We met on the sidewalk where she proceed to burst into tears and tell me “J’s boyfriend died at her house this morning!” Well, J works upstairs from M and I, and her daughter just got married on Saturday. From all accounts, it was a joyous and beautiful day. J’s boyfriend (another J) got up around 4 AM yesterday and sat down on the sofa and proceeded to die. He was found around 6:30 AM by my co-worker. He smoked and was very overweight, and complained of chest pains about 6 weeks ago when he was in rehearsal for “The Odd Couple”. Yes, that’s the group I’m involved with in town. At that time he drove himself to the hospital, waited in the parking lot until they subsided, and convinced himself that it was the heat and humidity. Yesterday his 13 year old son confided that his dad told him he had been having chest pains between the wedding ceremony and reception, but didn’t want to bother his sweetie about it.
So guys … and gals … don’t ignore the symptoms. And I have heard about jaw pain being a symptom of a heart attack before. My mom had arm pain and felt nauseous when she had hers in 1999. It’s not always chest pain.
On Sunday J & J were basking in the glow of Saturday’s wedding festivities, and male J said “You know, maybe it’s time we started thinking about getting married.” They lived together for nearly 2 years. Nothing was legal between them, so his 28 year old daughter had to come up from southern Kentucky and take the reins for all legalities. I hope my daughter and her long-time boyfriend (5 years) will finally decide to legalize their union because it could be a real nightmare for either of them if something would happen to one of them.
coozledad said on September 13, 2011 at 10:08 am
Thanks, Nance. It probably has more to do with my lack of typing skills, and the fact blindness is beginning to make inroads. I think I fixed it. I’m going to have to get one of those magnifier mice.
Get the good drugs while you’re there, Alex. You’ll wind up paying for them whether you get them or not. And when they bring the eggs, bacon and whitebread toast with country crock for breakfast, ask them where are the motherfucking hot-dog flavored potato chips.
Deborah said on September 13, 2011 at 10:09 am
Holy cow Alex, take care of yourself! Take it easy, or exercise, or whatever you’re supposed to do. I enjoy your comments and will miss them while you’re in the hospital, unless they have wifi.
Suzanne said on September 13, 2011 at 10:30 am
“Crone testing package” Fabulous.
You know you’ve reached middle age when nearly every complaint you relate to your doctor is met with the following statement: “That’s to be expected in a woman your age”. But how in the heck did I ever get to be this age??? I went to bed one night at 25 and woke up middle aged, with high cholesterol and varicose veins.
Peter said on September 13, 2011 at 10:39 am
Good luck Alex! Hope all will go well.
Cooz – hot dog flavored potato chips? That doesn’t sound too appetizing, and I’ll eat almost any kind of potato chip.
Why rack my brain and come up with something amusing when somebody has done it for me: GOP strategist Mike Murphy wrote on Twitter: “Listening to Perry try to a put a complicated policy sentence together is like watching a chimp play with a locked suitcase.”
MichaelG said on September 13, 2011 at 10:40 am
Feel better quickly, Alex. Glad to hear it’s not as bad as it could be. Take care of yourself.
Julie Robinson said on September 13, 2011 at 11:12 am
And wasn’t Alex just worrying about his lack of legal status in just such cases? My prayers are extended for a swift return to health. A heart attack was just what it took for my dad to quit smoking after a lifetime.
When my sister had a heart attack she was mostly short of breath, without any chest or arm pain. She thought it was an asthma attack, and fortunately her co-workers took her to the hospital. If she had been at home, who knows?
I’m in the midst of crone testing right now although osteoporosis doesn’t worry me too much. I inherited the big bones and stocky build that come from generations of Irish peasant farmers. Finally, that counts for something.
Stephen Colbert shares my enthusiasm on the debates:
”Tonight the Republican candidates had their second presidential debate in less than a week, and I was excited as a kid in a candy store who spent three hours in that same candy store last Wednesday.”
Scout said on September 13, 2011 at 11:13 am
Hey Alex, I hope you’re able to read all these comments soon, because that will mean you have access to a laptop and wifi. Add my get well wishes to those of our hostess and the other nn.c’ers. Definitely take care of yourself. We need you here!
brian stouder said on September 13, 2011 at 11:21 am
Get well soon, Alex — we need you here.
Indeed; and in addition to nn.c, Fort Wayne needs you, too!
Here’s wishing you and yours strength, and a speedy recovery
Judybusy said on September 13, 2011 at 11:45 am
Take care, Alex. Good luck on the stopping smoking!
Nancy, I will ignore the sourcing info on calcium. I just began taking it after too many years of knowing I should, but….I don’t need an excuse to stop. I chew 2 tums every morning.
moe99 said on September 13, 2011 at 11:46 am
Alex!!!! A smart guy like you smokes? I thought you would’ve figured out that
1) it’s an extremely expensive habit
2) that takes time out of your day and years from your life, and
3) it smells so bad to the rest of us.
Even if you’re not smoking around us we can smell it and trust me, my lungs go into a paroxysm these days just being around smokers. I’ve been thinking of having a large button made. The first line which would be arching around the upper half of the circle would say: “I Have Lung Cancer.” Then bisecting the middle of the button would be the line: “You Can Too.” Finally circling the botoom half of the button would be: “Ask Me How.”
I smoked half a pack a day for 9 years and quit the day I got married. Made for the honeymoon from hell. But it was worth it. http://moesmisadventures.blogspot.com/2010/11/honeymoon-from-hell.html
Heart attacks are no fun. Neither is cancer, my dear. So here are strategies for quitting that I used successfully:
1) don’t hang out in the places you normally smoke. If you have to, take long baths in the bathtub at home if there is no other place for you to go.
2) hard sugarfree candies are your friend.
3) be patient. the urge takes so damn long to go away but just take it one moment, one day at a time.
4) take up walking. then take up jogging. I would walk for a block or two and jog for half a block and build upon that. Ride a bike. Do something good for yourself.
5) limit your alcohol intake the first part of this. It ruins your self control and as I recall there was nothing better than a drink and a cigarette together.
6) love yourself. I see smoking as the penultimate act of self-hatred because you know they are bad for you. Really bad. Yet you continue to do it.
Good luck. We want you here. No more Ashley Morris’ scenes, ok?
LAMary said on September 13, 2011 at 11:46 am
Get better soon, Alex and really, quit the smoking for crissakes. I went cold turkey 23 years ago so I can be really annoying about smoking. We need you here to confirm straight people’s guesses about closeted Republicans.
Kim said on September 13, 2011 at 11:51 am
Alex, sending speedy recovery wishes your way, followed by ardent wishes you (and yours, if he smokes, too) will get off the lung snacks and are soon able to tell people, “I only smoke when I’m on fire.”
My dad died of a massive heart attack at the age of 39. He was a trim guy who smoked 2 packs a day, 3 when he could afford it. After he died we were going through his clothes and car, finding antacids of every stripe in every pocket and cranny. My mom was a known rager already, but that set her off in ways I had never seen.
Favorite part of the debate last night: When Michelle tells John King that an apology from Perry isn’t good enough for the poor little girls who are forced to take the ‘gov’t injection’. I guess the Christian principle of forgiveness doesn’t apply when you’re running for president?
And about those forced gov’t vaccines: The schools will say your kid has to have certain vaccines to attend school. What they don’t tell you is there is a religious exemption, which only requires the parent to print out the form saying basically “I didn’t get my kid this vaccine because my religious beliefs are contrary to it,” sign it and give it to the school nurse. Nobody can ask you whether it’s legit because it is about your personal religious choices (even if you don’t really have any other than ‘none of the above’). They can warn you that if there is an outbreak of Disease X your kid may be asked to leave school until it clears up. In my many years of invoking the religious exemption for one vaccine in particular (not the HPV and a long story) my children have never missed a minute of school for an outbreak.
Dave said on September 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm
Alex, good grief, hope you’re healing well and you can stop smoking, some seem to do it easily and others struggle, may you not be one of the strugglers.
Deborah, it’s not only women that doctors say, “That’s to be expected. . .” to.
LAMary, it’s the quitters who rage the most, in my experience for good reason, at those who won’t. I worked with a man who once was at least a two-pack-a-day man, who nearly lost his job over raging at a smoker at the workplace.
Julie Robinson said on September 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm
Let’s not kick Alex while he’s down with all this raging! I’ve spent plenty of time raging against cigarettes too and they took my dad away at 62. But how about a little compassion? Good grief, I tremble at the idea of giving up chocolate and I doubt that addiction is as strong as tobacco.
I bet he’s fretting about all those tomatoes waiting to be processed too.
Jeff Borden said on September 13, 2011 at 12:19 pm
Get well soon, Alex. Get a prescription for some kind of nicotine patch or whatever.
My happy news of the day? War criminal and all-around slime job Donald Rumsfeld has canceled his subscription to the NYT because he was offended by a “repugnant” blog post from Paul Krugman. If only there were a few thousand more Krugman’s in journalism, perhaps we’d be a lot better off.
LAMary said on September 13, 2011 at 12:24 pm
I’ve never been that bad about quitting. The worst I’ve been was bugging my brother to not smoke in the car with my asthmatic son as a passenger. I think we ex smokers ( was 2-3 packs a day) know how hard it is but worth the misery.
brian stouder said on September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm
OK – here’s a “rage” story, not aimed at smokers.
By Thunder – I think it is not just REASONABLE – but in fact IMPERATIVE to make ALL the people who are running for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States – and anyone else who, for example, smilingly advocates the elimination of the EPA (et al) – address what the hell happened in this story, datelined today, from Kenya:
The death toll from a gasoline pipeline explosion in Kenya’s capital has risen to 82, a Red Cross official said Tuesday, as residents of the Nairobi slum waded through a sewage-filled river in search of more bodies.
and, as a father of young daughters, this detail got me:
“My father asked me to collect nails, so that he can start to rebuild our house,” said 10-year-old Evelyne Njeri as she placed the nails in a white bucket. “This is where our house was, this is where it burned down. And when the fire started my mother was caught in the fire and as we speak now she is in the hospital for treatment.”
But – the fuel company and their investors are showing a profit (or were until now), and THAT’s the important thing, eh?
Dorothy said on September 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm
I never smoked but if I had, I’m sure I’d have been one of those who pestered the hell out of other smokers to quit after I had conquered it. I’m a pain in the ass that way. My husband quit 10 years ago and never says a word to anyone about it. He stands beside our sister-in-law while she smokes and just bullsh**s with her. He’s a good egg, that guy.
Alex I’m hoping you won’t have too much trouble quitting. Moe is right – hard candies are a must-have. And sugar-free gum if you have enough pockets to carry both. Mike found they helped him a lot.
adrianne said on September 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm
Just got my troika of crone testing back – pap, mammo, sonogram – I’m normal! (or as normal as a woman thundering toward her 50th b-day can possibly be.)
Alex, I’m sending healing thoughts your way.
Bob (not Greene) said on September 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm
Best of luck Alex. Get well soon.
I remember trying to sneak some smokes when was 12 or 13 years old, and my parents (both smokers who had quit) caught wind of it. Suffice to say I don’t smoke, because I didn’t want to risk getting caught and yelled at again. Thanks mom and dad!
Hattie said on September 13, 2011 at 1:29 pm
You younguns! Why are you feeling old? I really AM old, and I feel younger than springtime, though I hope not in an obnoxious way.
I say avoid doctors, take no drugs, legal or illegal, get lots of outdoor exercise, watch the drinking, don’t smoke, and eat what you like.
Connie said on September 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm
Thinking of you, Alex, all will be well. Went through the exact thing with my husband 3 years ago, stents and all, but I was the one who drove him to the ER. Though I thought we were going to Urgent Care when we left home.
I was in the hospital myself for 2 days last fall and was surprised to learn that Huron Valley Sinai had a combination TV/computer with wifi for every patient bed. You guys kept me sane that day and you didn’t even know it.
Heather said on September 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm
Huh. I thought ingesting calcium after about age 30 didn’t do much good since your bones didn’t really absorb it after that point, but apparently I am wrong or have outdated information. Maybe I will go back to drinking milk in my coffee and cereal instead of rice drink (an attempt to avoid sinus issues).
Get well soon, Alex! In regards to smoking, my cousin had to give it up several years ago because she was doing IVF to get pregnant. I said, “That’s great–now you’ll never smoke again!” And she said, “Oh no, I’ll smoke again. I love smoking.” And yep, she still does. Our grandmother and great-aunt smoked like chimneys and got to their mid-80s in pretty decent shape, but still.
Dorothy said on September 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm
For Alex, in case he needs a laugh when he’s finally able to read these messages. I’m partial to Miss New Zealand, but what the hell is Turks and Caicos supposed to be wearing?!?! Looks like she found it in her neighbors’ yard sale.
Mindy said on September 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Get well right now, Alex, and get any remaining coffin nails out of your life. If you can’t or won’t, I invite you to join me on a Thursday morning visit with my ridiculous mother for inspiration. She’s had several heart attacks, three stents, two hospital stays, one stroke and a diagnosis of emphysema late in the spring and still won’t quit smoking. Talking to her is unspeakably gross because she can’t stop coughing and spitting up crud long enough to complete a sentence. Should be a very graphic visual for you. Why have all that when you can have homegrown tomatoes? Rest up and get better.
Rana said on September 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm
Get well soon, Alex!
Nancy, I hear you on the calcium supplements, and the annoyance of them. I’ve just gotten to the stage where I need containers to keep track of my pills, and am taking some pills in order to counteract the effects of other pills, and I shake my head at myself. But what else is there to do?
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm
Grace and peace to you, Alex, and to your partner, as well, however the sequence goes for one, both, or neither of you to walk away from Lady Tobacco. She’s a spiteful wench, and dislikes infidelity, even though she offers no faithfulness herself.
I’m a firm believer in displacement – if you decide, for yourself, to stop smoking, figure out what you’ll *start* doing to replace it, before some stray demon grabs you to fill the gap. Ho-Ho’s, watching FoxNews, a fascination with herpetology; it could be anything, so pick it for yourself. Maybe you could start writing limericks every time you wanted to inhale a lungful of stimulation, carry a notebook where the pack used to be . . .
However you choose life, do so with joy, and it will take. I wish you joy, friend.
Jean S said on September 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm
When my sister-in-law gave up tobacco, she also gave up alcohol and caffeine for several months, as both triggered an intense urge to smoke … Whatever works, Alex; I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Be well.
Bob (not Greene) said on September 13, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Speaking of inhaling smoke, the Chicago area is beginning to get smoke wafting down from some forest fire in Minnesota. I went outside just now and it actually smells like smoke out there. Must be God scorching Michelle Bachmann’s earth.
LAMary said on September 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm
“I went outside just now and it actually smells like smoke out there. Must be God scorching Michelle Bachmann’s earth.”
Makes sense. Perry’s state, then Bachmanns. Watch out Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Utah…
MarkH said on September 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm
Not Utah, LAMary. Not if you’re talking about Mr. Centrist Huntsman. As a result he’s not going anywhere in the general scheme of things.
We do have our share of forest fires here in NW Wyoming, though. A few in Shoshone, Bridger-Teton National Forests and a whole slew in Yellowstone. Could be residual Cheney stuff, but most being managed for their natural benefit.
Brandon said on September 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm
There really are hot dog-flavored chips. Actuality always outpaces satire.
Get well soon, Alex. I second Hattie’s advice, but with a few modifications: Get a checkup, but remember the old saying about getting a second opinion. Exercise. For the most part, eat what you want but limit your portions, and stay away from artificial sweeterners, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and the like as much as possible. Better cream and sugar in your coffee than nondairy creamer and Sweet n Low or Equal.
LAMary said on September 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm
Huntsman says some sensible things and he doesn’t scare me. The rest, no so much. Did anyone else appreciate the cheers for the idea of letting an uninsured person just die? Wow. Great crowd.
alex said on September 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm
There’s wifi here and not half bad food and some fun pills (I’m told) if the tobacco withdrawals make me insane.
They’re supposed to cut this ridiculous Chinese gong off of me in a little while and give me a portable monitor. I’m tethered to it by a bunch of wires and really don’t enjoy having to take it for walks.
Difficult to type with the IVs in my arm and a wire coming out of my index fingertip so will talk at greater length as soon as I get cut loose from them…
MarkH said on September 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm
LAMary, this is reason I am convinced all this will fade. The numerous and early GOP debates will backfire and give everyone a chance to see some of these people for what they are, and they will lose ground, steadily. Romney wil reamin at the top, with everyone else clawing their way into oblivion.
Close proximity to Utah has given me a chance to be aware of Huntsman for some time. He is justifiably popular in Utah, which should tell you something about how the politics there is morphing. The he really got my attention when Obama sent him packing to China in January 2009. A number of articles confirmed my suspicion: Obama took any challenge from him seriously, if not being out and out fearful of him. Anyway he wanted him out of the way. Huntsman’s problem isn’t his moderate, indeed possiblu liberal views on some things, it’s that he doesn’t show he particularly cares. No fire in the belly, as it were.
Dorothy said on September 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm
Rana said on September 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm
Alex – good to hear from you!
kathy t said on September 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm
My mom was a 3-pack a day smoker for oh, 55 years or so. She quit once for 6 months on a 5-dollar bet, and then for good at age 76 when she had a perforated ulcer which they patched up and then put her on a self-controlled morphine drip for about three days in the hospital. That little joy button was the cure. She went home on oxygen and never lit up again. She is going to be 89 in October. There are many paths.
LAMary said on September 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm
Wi-fi in the patient rooms is pretty cool. I bet you they have weird blocks on lots of sites.
Deborah said on September 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm
The smoke from Minnesota is really here, I thought you had to be mistaken Bob NG. It’s making my eyes burn and my throat scratchy. Is this a normal thing to have happen? All the way from NE Minnesota?
alex said on September 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm
I could easily have continued ignoring the symptoms, which began on Saturday. They were infrequent and very fleeting, maybe thirty seconds at most, and occurred only a few times a day. There was no chest pain, no racing heart, no anxiety, none of the things I would have associated with a heart attack. In fact, I thought the symptoms resembled heartburn and cervical radiculopathy.
Glad I got it checked out. Almost went to bed thinking it was something that would just pass.
Judybusy said on September 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm
Dorothy @ 25, dunno know if you should have posted that…Alex might displace the stent with all the laughing! That was some gooood humor. And I love how I’m learning that my state’s on fire from you people. Well, I’m not listening to MN public radio these days. I have Carl Hiassen’s Basket Case on CD, which is vastly more entertaining.
Alex, glad you listened to some small voice and got checked out.
Jeff (TMMO): your words for Alex were beautiful and so graceful.
Jolene said on September 13, 2011 at 11:34 pm
Checking in late today. Good to hear from you, Alex, and am glad to hear that you got the care you needed.
Jolene said on September 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm
Wow, Dorothy, that is quite a collection of costumes. Just amazing to see what people findto do w/ their time in this world.
Crazycatlady said on September 14, 2011 at 12:07 am
My niece is set to get married in July 2012. Her soon to be mother-in-law died suddenly last week. She was only 63. My dear nephew-to-be is devastated she won’t be at his wedding. But we will all remember how mom was there when he proposed to my niece at Disneyworld. And Kayla and her Mom-in-law have already been dress shopping, and his Mom saw her in her dress. Sudden loss hurts so badly. Hold on to the memories.
Connie said on September 14, 2011 at 7:58 am
Alex, ignore those lectures and come smoke with me.
LAMary said on September 14, 2011 at 8:56 am
Connie, now I’m visualizing you with a Nancy Grace haircut and a cigarette, shushing people in the library.
Connie said on September 14, 2011 at 8:58 am
No shushing anymore. And the haircut, well, sort of close.
brian stouder said on September 14, 2011 at 9:28 am
Just for the record, in my opinion Connie is about as far from Nancy Grace as a Mini Cooper is from a Yugo; in that the sight of one makes one smile, and the other induces a grimace.
Although I suppose that’s not really fair to the Yugo, which afterall probably hasn’t driven as many people to death as Nancy Grace has.
mark said on September 14, 2011 at 9:45 am
Glad you are doing well, Alex. Should any tomatos be missing upon your return home, I’m sure it was animals. A speedy recovery to you.
4dbirds said on September 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm
So glad you’re back Alex.