Opinion: Ticker news
Editor | January 17, 2024 2:00 AM
So I was walking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road on a frigid November morning and the same old pain returned to my chest, the pain I’d been experiencing for about a week or so and felt every once in a while hiking last summer.
It would flare up early in walks and then die down to almost nothing as I burped out gas, so I didn’t think much of it.
Chest pains and all other sorts of aches have been pretty common in my life, considering the miles I rack up every year, carrying cameras that, depending on how they’re rigged out, weigh between 7 and 26 pounds or so. Why, just a couple weeks before I was chatting with a woman I know who runs up mountains for fun and we were remarking how nice it is to be in great shape at the end of the hiking season. I felt great.
But there’s also been a few tragedies in the past year, namely the death of coach and friend Billy Sapa at age 53 from heart issues. I am 56.
So I made a doctor’s appointment, told him about the chest pain and he gave me an electrocardiogram.
“Is the pain going down your arm?” he asked.
“It is,” I said.
“Well that’s not good,” he said.
He noticed a little “inverted T” in my EKG and sent me off for a stress, test, where you walk, then run, on a treadmill.
One doc who was at the stress test wanted me to go into the hospital that night, but I told them there were a lot of people in the world and one less crabby editor wouldn’t change the direction of the sun, so I walked out.
But I eventually came around, saw a cardiologist and last week had a heart catheter, where lo and behold, they found a big old blockage in an artery and a few other concerning ones as well. Apparently the only reason I’m even writing this is because other, smaller, arteries are pulling double duty. Gotta like that.
I could feel sorry for myself, I suppose, but there are people dying everyday in place likes Ukraine and Israel and Gaza under way worse circumstances. One gruesome story sticks in my mind of a journalist who was covering the Gaza War and he was hit by ordnance that twisted his broken leg around so his foot was on backwards. Somehow he managed to walk back to his apartment.
In the near future I will have coronary artery bypass surgery and with any luck the good surgeons at Logan Health will patch me up and I’ll be back on the trail by this summer, hoping not to get rolled by a grizzly bear just like everyone else.
I guess I’m telling you all this as a warning to anyone who is in shape and has chest pain: Get it checked out. It’s probably nothing. But it might be something.
There’s a few more places I’d like to see before the ticker gives up the ghost for good. And if it doesn’t work out? Well, I’ve seen many, many things most people haven’t and will leave this mortal existence with few regrets.