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Joe Marconi

My Son is Getting Married!

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I am on vacation in San Francisco visiting my son. Last night he proposed to his girlfriend! Wonderful time here and very excited. The wedding is next summer. Be back in New York on Wed

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    • How are automotive shop owners handling vacation season?

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    • Another wonderful experience with Elite

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    • Article: OHS - Open Heart Surgery - My Story ----- A look at my summer of 2017

      OHS – Open Heart Surgery – My story “Being a mechanic, shop owner, writer, lecturer, and teacher I tend to ‘think’ I’m capable of answering any question, take on any challenge, and solve any problem that comes my way.  This… is one time, I wasn’t able to do so.”  Gonzo How it all started          Leading up to my zipper (which is slang for open heart surgery) I thought I was just getting old and tired.  For two years or so, I had a very slight off and on chest pain that didn’t last longer than a few minutes.  It hurt, but I wasn’t concerned.  As soon as the pain dissipated I forgot all about it.  Most of the time I would have months between incidences, but that gradually changed to an all-out crushing pressure that lingered longer and longer between no pain and intense pain. The increasing occurrences went from once in a while, to once a month, to too often to consider it something other than what it was… a heart attack.    Things that I used to do in a few minutes seemed to take hours. I’ve always been a hands on and very physical type of guy.  Never one to pass on heavy lifting or something that was physically demanding, but this “slowing down” stuff was just the something that you couldn’t ignore.  It was time to see a doctor.  An appointment was made, but as usual the pain subsided and I was busy at the shop, so on I went back at it as hard as I normally went at it. Thinking as usual, that I was as tough as a grizzly and could solve this like any other problem I’ve encountered.          There were a lot of signs leading up to my eventual heart attacks, (yes plural…as in several), but as with most boldly-go-where-no-man-has-gone-pig headed “A” personality-types with the personal drive of a MAC truck, and someone who still thinks he can keep up with the twenty something crowd (speaking of myself, of course) – and one who doesn’t listen to their own body or loved ones about your own demise, I ignored the signs. You fall into the trap of misdiagnosing yourself and possibly ending your career and family life all in one fatal swoop. If that’s you, then you’re bound to end up on the floor in the fetal position clutching your chest in extreme agony.  (Been there…done that). The ER          So, it’s no surprise I ended up in the ER with my son trying to carry his old man through the doors, while my wife is frantically making hand gestures seeking help from the nursing staff.  It wasn’t long before I was zipped (Gotta love that word, ya know) off into an awaiting curtained off room.  A few quick tests confirmed that this old guy wasn’t heading home any time soon.  Even the doctor who first examined me was in shock.  He said, “Most everyone I see this bad off are downstairs … with the sheet over their face … if ya get my drift.”  He went as far as pulling up the blanket and resting his arm alongside of my leg to show the color differences.  Wow, now I’m shocked.          All of this led to more tests, and more tests. By now all of my kids have flown into town to be at my side. Stents were tried, but that didn’t work.  All that did was give me a few jolts with the paddles and a few burn marks to show for their efforts.  (Nice mementos don’t ya think.) 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Waiting on surgery day          A few days passed, I’ve been poked and prodded, medicated and subdued by so many different IV’s and pills that I’m feeling like a new guy already.  Even though the actual surgery is still days away. 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If I don’t get this done myself… I’m pretty sure he will. Obviously, modesty has left the building quite some time ago, so it wasn’t a stretch to be in the same room with this mammoth individual while I made the knuckle deep insertion.  Although, he wasn’t present for the eventual outcome he was well aware of the results.  I don’t know what they put in those, but a toilet seat belt and ceiling padding would have been appropriate. The CABG          The surgery itself (as I was told, because even though I was there…what the heck could I tell you about it) had a few difficulties, but as if it’s not noticeable by now I made it through with my heart beat intact.  The surgeon performs an operation called a CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft). Mine was a double, meaning two grafts were made. One graft was taken from the left side of the chest and one was taken from behind the left knee. A heart pump is used during the operation to ensure a steady flow while the heart is being worked on. Believe me, you (the patient) have no idea what is going on until you’re told later on.  Hopefully, when the medication wears off and you’re coherent.  For me, the wife had to retell and retell the whole thing to me, because I wasn’t comprehending much of anything for quite some time. The ICU The ICU (Intensive care unit) is a whole new experience.  The first thing is the introduction prior to the surgery.  I was wheeled into the adjacent room to the operating room where I would be monitored and was told what to expect when I first woke up from the surgery.  The big thing the nurse kept stressing was that I would feel some discomfort from the breathing tube and not to make any attempts to pull it out.  Besides I would be strapped down to the table for my own safety.  I remember waking up and hearing the nurses talking to each other, “He’s coming to, be ready.”  “OK sir, don’t pull it out…Don’t pull it out!”  I realized where and what was going on and understood her commands. 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I’m dammed sure this is the same IV unit that was here yesterday! So why in the world do you need to come in and scan the serial number twice a day?!”  I don’t think I came off as his next best pal by a long shot. Eventually, the day came to get out of the hospital.  One the happiest days of my new life. Me and my IV had to part ways, and no, I didn’t tell the inventory guy. Home at last          When you finally get to be home, start your rehab schedule, and try to reassemble your now broken apart life, you begin to reevaluate what is most important for your future. Walking is your foremost concern. I had a routine I would do and set a goal each day a bit farther than the previous day.  Oh, I’d push it too far, and the wife or my son would have to come haul the emotionally incoherent old guy off of our hilly driveway more than once. It does get better, but it does take time.           You soon learn new routines, things like coughing and sneezing should only be done if your heart pillow or Teddy bear are close by.  Squeezing the pillow (or bear) against your chest prevents you from popping your sternum open. You also learn how to stand up and roll over without using your upper body as much as you previously did. Sleeping in a bed is out, at least for a month or so (if not longer) you’ll have to learn how to be comfortable in a recliner 24-7. Breathing, talking, walking, and bathing, etc… all their problems that you’ll need to overcome. And, probably the most important thing or the most annoying... (Your interpretation may vary) is the now-and-for-ever-more medications you’ll be on. Family and friends take precedence over work and bills.  The realization that life is all about a beginning and an end and that you’ve been given a chance to change your life’s conclusion differently than what it could have been.  Not that you need a lightning bolt to drop out of the sky to tell you to change your life…but a heart attack and open heart surgery is close enough to the same thing. So heed the warning, do yourself a favor. Except it for what it is, and discover what is more important.  Not a lot of people get this second chance. For some, it’s as sudden and as unexpected as a car crash. I feel there’s reason for every action and reaction.  It’s how you cope and/or do with those actions and reactions that make a difference.   Putting it all into perspective           Life is what you make of it.  There is no perfect solution, there is no golden key, it’s up to you to make it a difference. It’s not money or fame… just you.  As we’ve all heard before, “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have much at all.” True to some extent, but not always true and not always is your health something that you can have the way you’d like it to be. What is possible is living life to the fullest no matter what the odds.  I for one, love to hear stories of people who have found out they have some sort of rare disease and decided to fill their bucket list of personal accomplishments until their time has expired. I commend them and hope I can do the same. So even though my stamina and strength may not be equal to what it was of years past, I’m still able to experience all there is out there. For me, I’d like to think I still can try. Maybe it’s not all about the challenges, maybe it’s not all about solutions, perhaps it’s just about the adventure.  Becoming a member of the Zipper Club isn’t the end… it’s a new beginning.             
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      By Gonzo, in AutoShopOwner Articles

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      • 324 views
    • Would you be interested in a reliable temporary Manager for your vacation needs

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