The first thought I had this morning was “The phone is ringing. Answer the phone.” Getting to the phone from bed is a stretch and a twist. I could make it easier by moving my Disney “Someday my Prince will come” lamp, which would make it harder to reach. I use my lamp more than I use my phone, so the phone stays put.
Regardless, answering a ringing phone from a dead sleep is one of my more acrobatic moves. Most times, when it rings early in the day, it is either a telemarketer or a doctor’s office reminding me about an appointment. This time, it was a friend from whom I was very glad to hear.
“Hey R. !” I said. You’ve got to love Caller ID.
“I’m alive,” he said. He sounded great. Considering he had two heart valves replaced during the past week, that’s not such a small thing. I was amazed, delighted. Impressed he sounds so perky and clear-headed.
R. goes way back. We met at the college radio station, where it seems everything important to me began. He was 13. I was not quite 18. I felt very superior, being so much more mature than he.
He had such a baby face, full of freckles. He still does, though the hair has become mixed with gray. Such a kid. Our lives continued to intersect throughout the decades. When he was 14, he got cancer. He was treated. Went into remission. Decided to skip college because he figured he was going to die young. Not.
He taught himself computer programming and morphed into a cracker jack software developer. He learned to fly and bought a small plane. I got to fly … even a pretend run as “co-pilot.” It was fun, and scary, and made me realize I love to fly … as a passenger. No piloting for me, thanks.
He went to live in Brussels. I went to live in Jerusalem. Both of us came back and married. My first husband — with whom we were all friends because he ran the college radio station where we all met — died following a mismanaged mitral valve replacement. I was married to Garry by then, having met Garry at that same radio station. No exaggeration — everything started there.
So you can see why everyone in our crowd is more than normally nervous about heart valve replacements, even though Jeff’s death was at least partly his fault — but more the fault of an arrogant doctor who failed to take the most fundamental precautions in post operative care.
Hearing from R. was wonderful and heartening. He had two valves replaces, the mitral and the aortic. He had previously, some years back, had a coronary bypass, so he was a little cranky this surgery. He takes exceptionally good care of himself — and his wife, M., would personally fight back death with her bare hands. I wouldn’t mess with her.
We had talked several times about surgeons, hospitals, mechanical versus tissue valves. I explained why I preferred tissue. No blood thinners and with all the other medical issues I’ve got, who needs to deal with that too? R. is not exactly free of other medical problems, either. He’s got that cancer lurking in the background, so less is more where medication is concerned.
But he sounded terrific. Alert. Alive. He made it. If you live around here and you need serious heart surgery, I highly recommend Beth Israel. They are terrific. If there’s such a thing as a great hospital experience, you will have it there. I don’t say this lightly, having been resident in pretty much every one of Boston’s highly regarded facilities.
R. is going to be okay. I could hear it in his voice. He sounds better less than a week post op than I sound 11 months after mine.
It is deeply reassuring to not lose another friend. Given how the herd has thinned, we are even more precious to one another than we have been in the past. No more taking for granted.
This totally made not only my day, but possibly my year.
Daily Prompt: First Light – Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.