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David's Heart

by David Evans(more info)

listed in heart, originally published in issue 51 - April 2000

As I am one of his most important organs, the consequences for David will be life threatening. When I say I am about to stop, this is not some brash, petulant act on my behalf. I haven't made the decision – I'm afraid it's out of my control. If I hadn't been treated so badly over the years, then perhaps things wouldn't have got to this stage and I wouldn't be feeling as tired and worn out as I do.

Heart in his hands

I'm supposed to be the most efficient pump known to mankind, continuously working twenty-four hours a day for more than an average of seventy years. But of course, like any other working mechanism, I need to be looked after.

Most importantly, I live and thrive on oxygenated blood. I therefore need clear fuel lines to enable that blood to reach me. My problem, or rather David's problem, is that this is not the case. The supply reaching me is less than ten per cent of my requirement, which is due to the fact that my fuel lines – my coronary arteries – are ninety per cent blocked. Oh, and by the way, this is not some overnight thing, no; my owner has been self-destructing for a number of years. It is strange really, how so many people look on these types of events as they do bankruptcy or business failure; something that was done only last night brought on this demise and has nothing to do with the fact that things had been neglected for far too long. You know the kind of thing: putting off important decisions, burying heads in sand, all because of cost, and basically hoping that everything will sort itself out. So many people are experts when it comes to knowing the cost of something, but they actually know nothing of its value.

Well, my stoppage may be temporary or it may be permanent. I don't know. One thing is for sure – if temporary, the effect on David will be staggering; if permanent, the effect on David's wife and two young children will be devastating. Do you think he cares? He won't be around to bother will he?

Let's just hope that when I do stop there is someone nearby who knows what to do to assist David and give me the correct medical attention. Even so, there's still a great chance that I will be damaged – beyond repair. That means it's permanent and I will not be able to work anything like as efficiently as I did before. David could end up an invalid. He may even be forced to carry around an oxygen cylinder and wear a mask all day to keep me properly supplied. I wonder what value David will then put on his life?

Do I sound bitter? Please don't think that, because I'm incapable of feelings – I just carry out a job.

No matter which way David, or you for that matter, views it, it is a cost and value thing. The cost of him continuing his present lifestyle is my stoppage. The value of him changing to a different lifestyle is my continued good health and his quality of life – even his life expectancy increases.

But David won't change his lifestyle. He considers it too much of a pain. It's far too painful, for example, to substitute an apple for a sticky bun, or a salad for fish and chips. He actually knows that they aren't good for him – not in the quantities he consumes in any case – but he doesn't get the same pleasure from the substitutes. He is convinced that he gets a great deal of pleasure from his cigarettes even though he knows that they are the cause of disease, which directly affects me. There's the rub, you see, he is quietly killing himself – by ruining me – at the same time as thinking that he is getting a great deal of pleasure!

It would be nice to be able to convince him that there is really very little effort involved in changing his lifestyle. He doesn't have to move mountains. But why do I know that he won't do a thing differently?

Well, very shortly, he's about to find out that he isn't immortal and that he really cannot expect the same workload from me whilst continuing with his present habits. Do you know that he still plays squash? Only once a week, but he doesn't do anything else, and then he stays behind for a pie and pint afterwards!

It's not as though I haven't tried to warn him – you know, a little bit of pain every now and again – but the sheer arrogance of the man is such that he just feels that he isn't as fit as he used to be – so now he's thinking of increasing my workload by running in the evenings.

What isn't appreciated is that my blockages are at the level which requires urgent surgery. No amount of exercise will help – in fact, the increase in my workload means that I need more oxygen than I can get and that is a major problem in itself. No matter how much pain I cause to get the message across, the lifestyle remains the same.

I wonder how many more hearts there are out there like me? You know, you owners, just a little improvement in your lifestyles – like the cutting out of the high fat items, (you really don't have to starve to death!), learning to manage your stress levels (relax more and get fit properly) and most fundamentally important, believe the scientists when they recommend strongly to STOP SMOKING – would increase both the quality of your lives and your life expectancy.

As it is my owner can't be bothered so it looks as though it's too la......

The Editor Comments

As the next article by Jeffrey Bland indicates, genetic predisposition to heart disease may be overcome by a variety of nutritional and lifestyle modifications. Please read on!


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About David Evans

David Evans is a forty-nine-year-old accountant specialising in tax. His hobbies include playing squash three times a week and hiking most weekends with his wife. It came as a complete shock to both him and his wife when he was told in May of this year that he needed urgent by-pass surgery. As far as he was concerned he was very active and fit! However, the cardiologist told him differently and he ended up having six by-pass grafts. A 'double-triple' as his eighteen-year-old daughter says. He has made a full recovery and has been back playing squash since the middle of August. It is only now as he looks back, with his new found fitness, that he realises his pre-operation health was less than adequate! The doctors told him, by the way, that his condition was hereditary. Whether he likes it or not he has the gene and will more than likely need the operation again.

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