MY TICKING TIME BOMB - PART TWO

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Submitted Date 08/31/2019
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Well, since reading part one of this life story and it is now 2019, you've got to have figured out somehow I was able to live past the age of 45...

I started living in Knoxville in January 1995 and later that year I finally got my brand new, 1995 Ford Econoline E350 Powerstroke Diesel van. In November 1994 I put $4500.00 cash down on it and it took six months to be delivered!

I had an extra gig with the Leica Surgical Microscope team to travel to every medical facility in the USA that had a ceiling-mounted Leica microscope and perform an upgrade on them. There were just over 200 scattered all over the USA.

The first year I had the van I put 70,000 miles on it! While in Texas we covered more than 6000 miles. Knoxville is a great hub to be living in if you do a lot of Interstate traveling. I-75 and I-40 intersect there and I-80 dumps off (or begins) just a little east of Knoxville.

However, as far as a place to live in, it was the only four years of my life where I didn't live in a city. They might have had the population of a city, but certainly not the mentality of a modern city. I would have to go to Atlanta or Nashville to buy my usually easy to find items, like my brand of toothpaste. (Nature's Gate - Anise Flavored)

Nature's Gate Anise Toothpaste

At that time I would have to go to the Asian stores in Hotlanta to find the Asian foods I liked to cook with, as there weren't any large ones in Tennessee back then.

Once outside the city by only a few miles, the language there changes to a very deep and odd Southern dialect that for me, though raised in Florida, found very difficult to understand.

Knoxville is not only a good "trucker's hub" but it is a good SEC hub to live in and I took advantage of it by traveling to many of the away Gator games, went to the SEC Championships in Atlanta during that time, and to two National Championship Bowl games.

Interstate Highway System Knoxville TN

In 1998 I knew things were starting to change with my heart and so I started to see what could be done in Tennessee. I had already tried several times to buy health insurance but I was denied every time because of the rheumatic fever I had as a kid. I was told by TennCare that if I stayed in Tennessee I would die!

You can not go to the ER for a heart valve replacement, it is a special surgery, in a special OR that is planned for in advance. It is not an emergency, it is a "pre-existing condition"! In 1998, this was not just the case for Tennessee, but rather it was the case throughout all the USA!

Open Heart Surgery

That's when I realized how special the City of Denver is with their SOCIALIZED MEDICAL CARE and decided it was time to move back to Denver, which I did in February 1999.

I had kept my Colorado Electrician's License intact while I was away from Denver and started to do electrical service call work and by that October there were times I just had to lay on the floor and hang on. My heart was failing slowly and surely.

When I went to Denver General they were immediately alarmed and the CU Cardio Team checked me out and insisted that I had to have the aortic heart valve replaced as soon as they could arrange it. It was to be done at the University Hospital which was on Colorado Blvd. back then. The surgery was scheduled for November 17th, 1999, a Wednesday.

However that previous Friday I was feeling very weird inside and had a friend drive me to the University Hospital where they immediately put me on a heart monitor and kept me there until the scheduled surgery time. From the moment I woke up from the open-heart surgery and for the next month, it was brutal!

Complications after complications kept me in there, sometimes the ICU until the day before Thanksgiving when I was released for one day, had a mini-stroke and was rushed back to the hospital again for two more weeks!

There was one episode where I had to suffer through a Pericardiocentesis, otherwise known as a pericardial tap. Believe me, this was not fun:

 

I had to be awake during the procedure and they drew out over 1000 cc of blood and fluids!

Because of my work and how active I was, I decided on a bovine valve so I would not have to take blood thinners, however, the lifetime for a bovine valve is ten to fifteen years. Within a couple of months after the surgery, I had decided that I would not get another open heart surgery ever! One was quite enough, thank you!

The recovery for the first year was especially tough and it took some time to get my lungs back to breathing normally again. I was told that it one of the most difficult parts of the recovery and I hated having to do the lung expansion exercises.

Naturally, I went as long as I could on the bovine valve, most people getting theirs replaced by the tenth or eleventh year it was installed. It was in 2013 that I knew the bovine valve was starting to go and that there was no way I was going to have another open-heart surgery.

I was listening to the radio AM760 in the car to the Norman Goodman Show and he was talking about things that should be a human right but are not in the USA, or at least some States. Once I found a place to pull over I called into the show and that one call started another chapter in my life. Norman decided to help my situation by having me talk on his show regularly and ask for donations because by that time I was unable to work.

It was suggested that I call other radio talk shows and speak about this which I did and this ended up with Erik Eckholm, a journalist from the NY Times flying out to Denver to interview me. The article ended up being on the front page, the top fold of the newspaper! February 4th, 2014.

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/us/easing-terminal-patients-path-to-death-legally.html

It was on the Thom Hartmann Show that I got to speak Senator Bernie Sanders about this subject! People who know me now KNOW I am a YUUUUUGE advocate of Bernie Sanders, but did you know he's been a hero of mine for well over a decade now? This is January 17th, 2014!

Al Jazeera TV had me on for an interview where I had to debate a quadriplegic on whether the right to self-determination would lead to the mercy killing of the handicapped! I had no idea of this debate until after I arrived at the studio.

As you can see from the YouTube video, it was an odd debate that didn't make any sense to me.

 

Part One: https://www.writespike.com/story/SfILCO3V0yDL/my-ticking-time-bomb-part-one

Part Three: https://www.writespike.com/story/C88ENg8fWxLK/my-ticking-time-bomb-part-three

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