Category Archives: Implantable Defibrillator

Hot Air


Well, I’m alive. Although, from what I’ve been told, I was a daisy pusher for a hot couple of seconds.

See, I got my spanking new defibrillator implanted Friday. Apparently, immediately after wiring up the little dynamo, the docs as a matter of course cause the patient’s heart to go into fibrillation so’s they can see if the machine will properly jolt said muscle back into its customary walking bass line. And since fibrillation is, essentially, sudden cardiac death, well then, technically, I was St. Big Mike for that little snippet of time.

I know, I know — I’m over-dramatizing the whole shebang but, jeez, lemme have my moment on the sun, wouldja?

Anyway, I’ll be taking it easy for a couple of weeks now, although clacking out these screeds does not count as an undue burden upon my ticker and my two forefingers. So I’m back to haranguing you with my half-assed opinions and half-cocked suggestions.

Funny thing is, I was chit-chatting with a pal the other day and she said she doesn’t believe in “western medicine” which, I suppose means she’s suspicious about the motives and actions of pharmaceutical companies, health care insurers, and other such used car salesfolk. To a large extent, I agree with her. The profit motive makes our health care delivery system fairly fercockt, at least in relation to that of every other civilized nation on this Earth.

Still “western medicine,” meaning the science practiced by those who look askance at such parlor tricks as homeopathy, faith healing, magnet therapy, and qigong, has come up with a number of machines and drugs that allow me to be sitting here typing this out rather than fermenting in the ground at Rose Hill.

I’ll take the west, thanks.

Kent State

So, yesterday was the 43rd anniversary of the May 4th Massacre, aka the Kent State shootings. Four Kent State University student were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen during a protest rally that day.

For those of my generation, we can’t hear the words “Kent State” without thinking of the four dead in Oh-hie-oh, as Neil Young so memorably put it.

It’s also lesson number 624,539 that, no matter how uncivilized we think political discourse is these days, we ain’t got nuffin’ on the late 1960s and early 70s.

Consider this dialogue between a man who had sons attending Kent State at the time of the shootings and a researcher studying attitudes about the incident, as related by historian Rick Perlstein in his book, Nixonland:

Man: Anyone who appears on the streets of a city like Kent with long hair, dirty clothes, or barefooted deserves to be shot.

Researcher: Have I your permission to quote that?

Man: You sure do. It would have been better if the Guard had shot the whole lot of them that morning.

Researcher: But you had three sons there.

Man: If they didn’t do what the Guards told them, they should have been mowed down.

How delightful it must have been to have a father who was four square in favor of you getting your head blown clean off should you have failed to obey an order.

Here are some images, some iconic, of the day a bunch of Kent State students failed to obey orders.

Kent State

Kent State

Kent State

Kent State

Homo Sapiens sapiens. Yeah. Sure.

Hot Air

The Big Knife

Last full week before the doctors slice me open and install an electric generator in my chest. They’ll run leads right into my heart so that if said organ decides to go on a drunken bender, the generator’ll shock me with 800 volts and get the ticker back in line, 4/4 beat and all.

Here’s the device:

MG 20140427

I hope it works. Or, better yet, I hope it never has to. We’ll see.

Taking The Blame

So, the S. Korean prime minister handed in his resignation over the capsized ferry that sent some 300 kids and adults to their watery graves.

Imagine that. There exist in this world some nations and societies wherein big shots take the heat for the bad things that happen on their watch.

I realize this is hard for Americans to believe, but in some faraway lands, heads of companies whose fuel depots blow up or whose toxic sludge seeps into the nation’s Capri Sun juice reserves often get sacked or even prosecuted for their misdeeds.

In other words, certain races of humans on this Earth entertain the quaint notion that somebody’s responsible when shit happens.

How odd, no? Here in this holy land, of course, we understand that when a coal company dumps poison into the water supply, well, by golly, that’s merely one of the costs of a free society. Imagine if we blessed Murricans played so fast and loose with the concept of accountability.

Why, our nation’s prisons would be filled to the bursting point with the likes of the CEOs of BP, Transocean and Halliburton, the managers of Freedom Industries, the former decision makers at General Motors, the bosses at West Fertilizer Company, and many other wealthy white folks. Why, in our Murrican lord’s name, would we force the pillars of our society to bunk with, ugh, common criminals?

BP CEO Tony Hayward

What? I didn’t do nuthin’.

Remember back in December, 1984, when Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal, India, accidentally released methyl isocyanate gas into the air? Oops! The death toll estimates ranged from 3787 (the official number) to upwards of 16,000. And a half million people were injured, including partial, severe, and permanently disabling physical trauma. I mean, why get hung up on numbers; none of those affected were job creators — and very, very few of them white.

Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson immediately flew into Bhopal to show how deeply he cared for the suffering of all those brown people. But those wacky Indians — the moment he stepped off the plane, they slapped the bracelets on him and charged him with manslaughter. Oh, the look on his face! His mug read: Don’t you know I’m the CEO of a very important Fortune 500 company?

So what did Anderson do? He promptly posted bail and then fled the country. India still has a warrant out for his arrest, nearly 30 years later. Our federal gov’t, for its part, refuses to extradite him because, well, what’s the big deal?


Quaint Indian Women

Like I said, quaint. Americans are decidedly not quaint. Many of us know precisely whom to blame whenever anything bad happens, be it an industrial disaster, a snowstorm, or an asteroid hitting Yankee Stadium.

Barack Obama!

Hot Air

Immortal Me?

Okay, kiddies, the Q. I’m grappling with these days is this: Will I ever be able to just, y’know, die?

See, yesterday a.m. I made all the arrangements with one of my army of ticker docs to have him implant a defibrillator in my chest. The medics have discovered a bit of a tendency for my left ventricle to go into a flutter now and again. Usually, the flutter lasts a second or two and then the heart muscle goes back into its groove, like a bass player.


Careful, Doc

But once in a blue moon, that flutter may last. And it’d be my last. Ventricular fibrillation is a killer, literally. The heart starts crackling like a string of firecrackers in a Chinese New Year parade and next thing anybody knows, the possessor of said wacky heart is on the way out of this mad, mad world.

You all have watched enough emergency dramas to know that medical personal dig putting paddles on whacked out people’s chests and zapping them back to life.



Which, by and large, is a Hollywood conceit. Most people whose ventricles go crazy, well, they die. Only two or so percent actually go back to full and productive lives. That’s because in the vast majority of cases, by the time someone comes by with the zap paddles, the victim’s brain has been deprived of oxygen for so long he or she’s as good as gone anyway.

Now I’ve learned my heart can go aflutter at any moment. And I’m not talking about when The Loved One walks into the room. I’ve been traipsing around with a congenitally malformed heart since I came aboard this goofy planet. Its effects began knocking me low some 15 years ago. It took the great minds of medicine a few years to determine I was born with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Because of that, I have Congestive Heart Failure. That’s why you see me walking with a cane now and again. Woo-hoo, right? At least I’m alive.

But since my heart muscle cells are so jumbled, I’m reasonably prone to ventricular fibrillation. I wore a heart monitor for 24 hours a couple of weeks ago and the results were a shade alarming. It turned out I had a couple of flutters in that single day. That’s Russian Roulette, babies. The next one, as Fred Sanford would say, could be the big one.

Ergo, the implantable defibrillator. Slightly bigger than an old Zippo lighter, the implant will give me an 800-volt jolt if my ventricles go ker-flooey. The doctor says it’ll feel as if I’d been kicked in the chest by a horse. But at least I’ll be alive. As I said, woo-hoo.

Now the question occurs to me: Will this device keep zapping me indefinitely even when I’m into my 80s and 90s? How about my 100s? Hell, I may never die!

Wasn’t there a Greek myth about that? Will I become as Tithonos, the lover of Eos? She forgot to ask Zeus to make Tithonos eternally young even as he continued to live forever. He simply turned into a babbling, immobile, decrepit thing, not the vital, vigorous lover she’d hoped for. What kind of deal is that? And do I want to make it?

Greek myth

Tithonos And Eos

Oh sure, I know, the battery’s going to wear out in my little immortality machine. Still, who knows how many times I’ll have cheated death by the time my defibrillator runs out of juice?

I know a little bit about that. Cheating death, that is. I’ve stayed alive thus far thanks to my daily fistful of medications and an ethanol ablation back in 2007. Before the medical community figured out how to treat HCM and its partner CHF, people just up and died from it.

So I’m Tithonos already. And I figure to emulate him for a few more years at least. Only I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Some people might already describe me as a babbling, immobile, decrepit thing.