Rub Some Dirt on It


I’m a guy. I’m not a particularly tough one, but I’ve had moments. Now, my brother, he’s a tough guy. Drives bulldozers and cranes and cement trucks, and once built an urban water filtration system with a paper clip and a discarded feather. I stand in awe. Both of us, though, in our relative toughness, have the same “walk it off, rub some dirt on it” attitude towards injury and pain. You get hurt, meh. You get the flu, meh. Get your butt to work.

And that’s how I ended up with double bypass surgery two Monday’s ago.

What, because, like a tough guy, I ignored symptoms until I was flopping around on the ground? Uh uh, it was actually through a series of fortunate events.

As the three or four of you who read this blog know, I haven’t had the best of Springs. I caught a respiratory virus at the front of April that whipped my ass, went away, then came back a week later to whip my ass some more. Man. Fevers and head-stuff and exhausted every friggin’ day until finally, finally, the last part of May, all that remained of it was a miserable, hacking cough. I didn’t do a blasted thing that whole time but get up, go to work, sleep.

One morning I dropped off my car for service and then walked a mile to work. When I got there, I had this little ache in my chest. Sheesh, I am soooo out of shape. Gotta get back into it. I resumed my morning exercise routine and, each time I got off the bike, had a little chest ache that went away after a bit. And when I walked up the hill at work, same little achy chest that went away after a bit. Sheesh, I am soooo out of shape. A few more weeks on the bike, and I’ll be back to pre-virus conditions.

And then my sister-in-law called and said my brother was back in the hospital for a second heart stent.

Now, my brother―Piney MacGyver― had a massive heart attack a while back; flatlined, he did, for about a minute before they defibb’d him back to this realm. Which pissed him off. “It was so peaceful,” he told me.

“No bright lights or angels or, in your case, furnaces?” I asked.

“Nope. Just peace.” Turns out he had some artery blockage and they installed a stent. A year later, here he is, getting another stent.

I called him and said, “Dude, rub some dirt on it.”

“Anything for a day off.”

“Cool. So what made you go check?” And then he spoke these fateful words:

“I had a little ache in my chest.”

Hmm. If that’s enough to get Piney MacGyver off to the ER, perhaps I should…


So, got off the bike Wednesday morning and had a little ache in my chest. This time, though, it didn’t go away, not even by the time I finished work that afternoon, so I said to my wife these fateful words:

“I think I need to go get checked.”

A stress test and catheter later, the doc said, “Dude, you need a double bypass.” Seems I had a blockage at a spot called the Widow’s Peak, which gives you an idea of how serious this was.

“No stents?” I asked.

“Nah,” doc said, “that’s for wussies. We’re going big or going home here.” A dose of Fentanyl later…and here I am, veins transferred, nifty scar on my chest, and another twenty or so birthdays added to the agenda.

And I get to call my brother a wussy.


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