A recession survival guide from our indispensable monthly Diarist.
D-day. After many weeks and even months of resisting my doctor’s urgings to get an angiogram, off I go with said doctor, Paul Grodan, MD, to get the damned test. I am having my driver, Mr. Milkey Imtiaz, drive me down there to a hospital in a faraway neighborhood called Torrance. I am scared but I have taken Valium and it helps a lot. Plus Dr. Grodan is talking nonstop so that’s distracting.
The test comes after a long period of breathlessness. Now, this breathlessness comes and goes. I felt totally breathless when Irving Kristol died. I felt as if I would die from lack of oxygen when Bill Safire died. But if I swim for an hour (well, maybe half an hour), I feel great. Actually, since my other great doc, Bill Skinner, MD, gave me Singulair, I have felt a lot better. But Dr. Grodan thinks I may die of heart disease at any second so I am having the test. He actually sent me a letter warning me I was about to die.
I love my life and I am not eager to die right now, so I am doing this test. I think the idea is that if I show signs of blockage, they will put a stent in me within a day or two. I promise I will not like that at all. But, as a brave old soldier, actually, a total whining crybaby, I am having the test.
What they do, see, is they lay me down and shoot a radioactive contrast dye into my big juicy veins. Then, thanks to General Electric, we have a powerful CAT Scan 64-slice thing take millions of microscopic images of my heart and its adjacent arteries. The part that scares me is the needle. I HATE NEEDLES. I always have hated needles and feared them. I do not like anyone at all shooting radioactive dye into my veins. Or taking anything out of my veins.
However, the capable people at this lab froze my skin at the elbow with something so I didn’t even feel the needle and I actually felt quite good throughout. I prayed to God and thanked God for my parents, for Nixon, for my sister, and for Alex and the dogs and Tommy, and I sang the Montgomery Blair fight song to myself and soon it was over. There were loud huzzahs from the room where the images were being read, and soon everyone was telling me how great my arteries looked.
Well, not great, but good enough. Little bits of plaque. No imminent heart attack. YAY!
Dr. Grodan, Mr. Milkey, and I zoomed off. Dr. Grodan and I stopped for a modest sandwich in Beverly Hills. He told me about his parents, both Holocaust survivors, mom just died at age 92. Wow, wow, wow. And now we are in Beverly Hills with our arteries fairly clear. I am HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY. God has been so unbelievably good to me. Beyond good. His blessings are beyond measure.
I got home and took a nap with my Brigit and my Cleo and felt happy. My wife is in Martha’s Vineyard visiting her friends Linda and Justin, so I have the dogs to myself. (The downside is that I also have the kitties, who are cute but disgusting, too. The male kitties urinate in inappropriate spots.)
Then I swam and I felt great. Really, really great.
Well, now it’s not quite as great. I was headed for LAX to go on a long speaking trip when what should I get but a call from the doctor who runs the GE 64-slice center. He’s been studying my pictures. Turns out I do have some blockage in one artery, but, as he says, it’s not a very important artery, whatever that can mean, and it’s not much of a blockage. He assures me I am not about to have a heart attack, but I do have to take Lipitor.
This is a bit of a downer. But what can I expect? I eat too much food, way too much fatty food, and I have bad heredity. Thank God for Big Pharma, who make these great drugs that keep me alive, fend off old age at least somewhat, and keep me a lot calmer than I would otherwise be. Thank God.
Anyway, I got on the Alaska flight to Seattle and fell asleep. At the Fairmont, the kind night manager gave me a spectacular suite. It was HUGE and I loved it and fell into a happy sleep.