Visit the Frankel Center with a woman like this
“How are you feeling, William?” asked Dr. Shinichi Fukuhara, as he entered surgical recovery a few hours after succesfully completing a complex repair of my aortic valve and doing a bypass on one of my coronary arteries. Not a full Letterman, but open-heart surgery nonetheless.
“I feel my like my chest has been cut open with bone saws and forceps,” I muttered. He nodded, stifled a laugh, with what I assumed to be Japanese politness, or, more likely, he had heard such brashness before. But, crikey, I wasn’t deadpanning: The recovery pain was intense.
At the end of 2019, during an annual physical, my doctor detected a heart murmur. He recommended I see a cardiologist sometime in the new year.
In February 2020 I got married. First things first. That part of my heart was more of a priority. I saw a cardiologist in early March. Many tests followed. Since I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms, and Covid was raging, the valve job could wait.
Complicating things, in the summer, after a series of unfortunate events (falling off a mountain bike while resting, for instance), doctors discovered — and successfully removed last year — a large brain tumor on the left side of my brain. The heart repair was delayed, again, until October of this year.
To pass the time in the hospital — ten days on this tour — I would chat with my guardian angel wife Danielle, who was by my side twelve hours a day, check in on Michigan football blogs, and trade YouTube videos via iMessage of Ann Arbor-founded funk band Vulfpeck, with my son, Mick. One sleepless night I stumbled upon a fine PBS profile of journalist-TV presenter Alistair Cooke, whom I hadn’t thought about in years.
It’s been an eventful — shall we say — couple of years. The tumor did some damage. But, thankfully, I still have the mind of a twelve-year-old, as is regularly pointed out at home. My heart literally (as the kids say) and figuratively is mended. My friends and family — especially my beautiful and brave wife Danielle — inspire me.
Recovery is not so bad. I still can’t drive, but I am fond of buses, Uber, and walking. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I finally read “Catcher in the Rye,” which I loved, if you wanna know the truth. I have a newfound affinity for the Canadian rock band Rush. Go figure. And I still have my boyish good looks.
When I was an Opinion Page editor at the Michigan Daily, in the 1980s, I routinely criticized UM policy (slow to divest from apartheid South Africa, for example). But when it comes to saving the life of old Bill — twice — in the past several months, I hold the University’s Michigan Medicine system in the highest possible regard.
All allusions to “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart,” taken from the hit song, written by Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb.