Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Virulence, Vaccine and Valve

To say that 2020 has been a bad year is to say that World War I was a family squabble or Moby Dick was a gefilte fish. This year has been twice blighted. First by the pestilence of Trump and then by his virulence actualized as Corona virus.  

In an episode of the Sopranos which has stuck with me, one of Tony’s thugs is killed and a memorial service is held in his house. After the priest says his usual platitudes he asks if any of the assembled would like to add a good word. A long silence follows until a voice from the back shouts, His brother was worse.

So our world got worse last Monday when Peggy’s heart attacked itself… or was it assaulted by the weight of the world? In came a squad of strapping paramedics at 3 A.M. and out they left with Peggy, horizontally, to St. John’s Hospital. I was told not to come; I wouldn’t be allowed in due to precautions set in response to the virus.

Indeed Peggy’s heart is capacious with a wide embrace touching the heart of everyone she has met, both personally and on the page. Her poetry issues from her being. Its incandescence is an essential lantern to see us through these dark times.

While awaiting an angiogram she wrote a poem for the cardiac surgeon. As many others it is both immediate and transformational. It will hang on his wall. After some probing and imaging, seven days after admission, she underwent a Trans Catheter Aortic Valve Replacement.

Success! She now has a spanking new bicuspid or mitral valve. The term describes a valve with two cusps or leafs allowing the blood to flow into the aorta. If arteries are highways this is the tollbooth. As the valve narrows it causes a Sig Alert. I prefer to think of it as a river running its course and getting refreshed as it cycles.

Another name for the valve is mitral, derived from the word mitre, as in a bishop’s hat. (I just looked it up; otherwise I wouldn’t know about such things.) How apt that the church has found its way on to this page. It was divine intervention from the hospital chaplain, Father Patrick, who on our behalf, blessed us twice. He and Peggy had formed a loving bond on previous occasions. Now he has prevailed upon the hospital administration to allow us to visit with Peggy in her room on two days leading up to the procedure. I almost considered converting but I’m afraid that would be a leap too far.

She will be coming home tomorrow. With a little help from her 2020 model valve I expect her Mississippi will be rolling along to steady chamber music. No muddying. No reefs.

May this sweet stream signal a turnaround for 2020. I can see a ship loaded with vaccine coming around a bend along with the restoration of dignity, compassion and science its cargo.

P.S. I’ve just been corrected. Forget what I said about the mitral (bicuspid) valve. It wasn't that one. It was the tricuspid valve. 

1 comment:

  1. Just read your blog so sorry to hear that Peggy had a heart attack but very happy to hear Peggy had such a wonderful outcome!
    I am so happy for both oof you.😘😘