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An Unexpected Trip to the Heart of Darkness and Back by Dick Cooper

Even in my drug-addled state, I can clearly see my pending heart attack in the “before” picture displayed on the large video screen looming over my head. The image of my coronary artery looks more like a fog-bound mountain stream clogged with glacial boulders than a vessel carrying vital blood to my heart. “Mr. Cooper. You’ve had a very good outcome,” the voice of a young doctor is saying. “That’s what your artery looked like. This is what it looks like now.” The “after” picture is of a straight, dark tube, clear of all obstructions. “We had to put in two stents to keep your artery open, but the good news is that you don’t have any blockage,” she says. Her words slowly soak their way through the post-op haze, and I begin to realize that this shor t, anxiety-ridden trip has come to a better ending than I had envisioned. It takes another 24 hours in a hospital bed before I truly believe it, but now I know I am a successful survivor of an amazing series of medical procedures perfected over the last two decades that have saved countless lives around the world. More

Pat and Dick Cooper enjoying a sail aboard Tusitala, their 1971 Hinckley Bermuda yawl. than 500,000 similar procedures are done every year in the United States alone. In one week, I went from the shocking diagnosis of cardiovascular disease, to the discovery of major, life-threatening obstructions, to having two significant procedures that have fixed the problem, hopefully for good. My wife, Pat, and I were on such an emotional rollercoaster it was hard to keep track of the ups and downs. But enough with the histrionics. To paraphrase an old Country/ Western song, “Just call me Tut, everybody, ’cause I’m the King of denial.” 23

Tidewater Times April 2013  

April 2013 Tidewater Times

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