Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's Amazing What You Learn...

...about yourself as you get older.

Take me, for instance. I was 45 years old when I learned that I was part black, through my mother. That secret was kept well hidden by my mother and her mother and her mother. As a boy I never thought about why there were no pictures of my grandmother's half-sisters in her house. At as 45 I found out. I know they kept this hidden to protect us, but it deprived us from knowing a wonderful family for decades.

Then, just today, for example, I went to a cardiologist for the follow-up to my echo-cardiogram and found out I'm missing two cusps on my aortic valve, a condition I was born with. At my annual physical last month, my new doctor didn't like something she saw on my EKG, something about the high peaks being where the low peaks should be and vice verse. I jokingly said I guess my heart is pumping backward, but she referred me for the echo.

Last week, as I was on the table watching the scope as the test was in progress, I mentioned to the tech that it looked strange the way something was flapping at the end of each beat. She agreed with me and seemed to study it for a long time. She said it looked abnormal and had me wait while she discussed it with the doc. He must not have been concerned, for he sent word I was to just come for my follow-up already scheduled.

As to symptoms of heart irregularity, I have none. Everything else from the echo looks good. The cusp-short valve is not leaking. Flow is good. Other valves look good. Dr. El Shafie said we could do an ultrasound (a trans-esophageal something-or-other), but said it wasn't necessary given no symptoms. He said come back for an annual echo and we'll watch it.

Now, I could easily have gone the next 7 years, 2 months, and 30 days until retirement without knowing this. And the however many years after that until I assume room temperature. But I now know. How will this affect my life? Not much I guess. Perhaps I'll find new impetus to lose the remaining weight I need to lose so that my single-cusp valve doesn't have as much body to supply. Perhaps I'll become a little more faithful in walking, and go for longer distances. Perhaps I'll finally give up a chips habit that I should have years ago.

Or not.

Time will tell. Well, I must be about other business now. I'll post the September report and October goals tomorrow--as long as the one-cusp wonder holds out till then.

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