by Frank King
I’m so excited, I can’t see straight. I’ve got a new cardiologist! I know, sounds a little odd.
Well, I’ve had two aortic valve jobs and a double bypass, in the last 18 years, and my cardiologist is back in Oregon. I live in Oregon, but I’m here, in Raleigh, opening a comedy club for the comedy radio station, Funny 570 AM, and I need someone to look after my ticker. I’m the Cardiac Comedian www.CardiacComedian.com and I speak on humor and heart health. I’m a Certified Laugh Coach, and I teach people how to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.
Anyway, I called Beth Denny, at FirstPoint Resources, because I know that she manages the NC and SC Chapters of the American College of Cardiologists, and I figured, if anybody knows a good heart doc or two, she would. And she does!
I got a call today from Dr. R. Lee Jobe, MD, FACC, FSCAI. What a delight. He’s got lots of letters after his name, and more importantly, a sense of humor. As a matter fact, before he agreed to take me on as patient, he said very seriously, “I have to ask you something, and I must warn you, your answer may be a deal killer. Did you go to college around here?” Fortunately, UNC was the correct answer. His folks went to State, but he said, “They worked very hard to give their kids a better education than they had.” Love the guy already.
My first valve job was at Wake Med in ‘95, and my favorite procedure was the angiogram. The doctor said to me, “Mr. King, we’re going to insert a probe into your femoral artery.” I said, of course, “How are WE going to get it in there?” He said, “We’re going to insert it through an opening in your groin area.” I said, “Time out,” backing toward the door of the exam room, “Doc, as far as I know, there is only ONE opening, in my groin area…and if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just have that heart attack.”
Turns out, they make a small incision in your thigh, and they give you drug called, Versed…ask for it by name. After a couple of hits of Versed, they could use PVC pipe. “Now do the other leg!”
Long story short, I needed a valve job. There were 3 kinds of valves at the time. There was the pig valve, which I couldn’t have. Well, I’m a Southerner, every time I went past a BBQ place I’d tear up. There was the mechanical, St. Jude Valve. But St. Jude is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases. So I got a human valve transplant. The valve came from a donor, either a cadaver, or a politician who wasn’t using it.
That valve lasted seventeen years, eight months, and twenty-six days. I had my second valve job last August, along with a bonus double bypass…because it was twofer Tuesday….more on that, next time.