What is the effect of love?
Being surrounded by love really helps!
I went for a routine complete exam, on May 19th, 2009. Actually, Margaret Hatcher, I would never have been in that office, were it not for you. You have been after me for two, three or four years to make a decision, find a doctor and make an appointment. I had been on the 2-routine-physicals-every-20-years plan and Maggie was no longer finding this one bit funny.
So with profound thanks to Maggie and Dr. Joel Felner, there I was in the office of Dr. David Roberts at Emory on May 19th, 2009. My wife was in the office next door also being examined by Dr. Roberts. There were no big surprises for her.
There were big surprises for me. I was found to have a heart murmur of major proportions needing immediate evaluation.
Within 3 hours I was processing this new information: you are going to need open heart surgery in weeks (not months or years) to repair or replace your ineffective mitral valve.
My health is excellent. No chest or arm pain, no shortness of breath, completely normal blood pressure and EKG, no weight loss and no problems sleeping. I walk 3 to 5 miles every day and have more energy than some around me find acceptable!!
In sum, I was being told: you are in excellent health but you’re going to need surgery for severe mitral regurgitation. This news came to me from the mouths of both Dr. David Roberts, my new internist, and Dr. Allen Dollar, my new cardiologist.
Needless to say my extraordinarily positive approach to life (sometimes called a Pollyanna approach) was immediately on review. I was being tested!
I gradually realized the seriousness of what had happened in my heart and what lies ahead for me surgically. I saw it in the eyes, hugs, concerned expressions and body language of people in Rabun County and Atlanta. I heard it in the voices of friends and family on the phone.
I looked down at my chest and saw a territory that was soon to be harshly invaded!
I was told by one close friend, Debbie Kowal, that her dad had been told before he had open heart surgery, that he, who did so much work on his house and garden, could not pick up anything weighing more than 5 pounds for weeks. This will definitely have major implications to the part of my persona that loves to work every day in the garden.
The day after learning that this major surgery was going to be necessary, I spoke to a physician at Emory whom I have loved and respected for years. So have Emory medical students who have repeatedly named him as their best teacher in the entire medical school. He is a pathologist. Dr. Magmudar had two recommendations:
First, be absolutely certain that there is solid information that an operation needs to be done.
And second, remember this: an asymptomatic person cannot feel one bit better from any operation!
So my medical education continues! I have relearned the importance of careful regular exams. Although I know there is some pain in store for me I have relearned the important truth that sometimes we have to go through short term pain for long term gain. I have felt the confidence one gets from knowing the physicians I am being cared for are the very best. And perhaps most important of all, I have been surrounded by love, concern, hugs and prayers that give me strength for the days and weeks and months ahead.