Nitroglycerin Man

I turned 50 in November.  Fifty, man.  I probably need to say something profound on this historic occasion, particularly in light of working in the youth-oriented environment of technology.  Okay, how’s this?  I’ve learned that you can’t trust anyone who’s not old enough to remember what they were doing when JFK was shot. 

I’ve been into fitness for most of my 50 years.  Nearly every day I run, go to my local health club or jump on the [NordicTrack] Ski Machine that sits in the center of my home office.  Not long after my birthday I started getting chest pains when beginning my workouts.  I’d start out, get chest pain, stop for 30 seconds or so, start up again, stop, and then repeat the process 2 or 3 times until there was no pain and I could finish the workout.

I saw my doctor on New Years Eve day who booked me at the hospital for a catheterization the same week.  My doctor doesn’t mess around.  For you youngsters who don’t know what a catheterization is, it’s when they insert a long plastic tube into your body near your groin and run it up into your heart to determine if any coronary arteries are blocked.  Viewing the arteries with special dyes, blocked arteries are expanded with little balloons and wire steel tubes called stents are inserted to keep the arteries open.  You are actually conscious during the procedure while this is going on, which is pretty wild. 

They found a major artery that was 90% blocked in two places, into which the doctor inserted two stents.  An overnight stay in the hospital was required, which was actually the worse part.  No WiFi.   Because of the complicated nature of the blockage, I go back Friday for a second catheterization so the doctor can make sure everything is flowing as it should be.  Hopefully no complications will arise and I’ll live to blog another day.

As for anyone wandering if I’m, like, really sick, all signs currently point to “no,” primarily because the blockage was caught before a more serious heart attack occurred.  The wonders of modern medicine really are quite astounding.  I ran 3.5 miles both yesterday and today, only a few days after stents were placed in my heart.  Remarkable.

So first I turn 50.  That was difficult enough.  It doesn’t help that I now have to go through life with a bottle of nitroglycerin pills in my pocket like Norman Thayer, Jr. in On Golden Pond. 

What are the takeaways from this brush with mortality?  Not many, I’m afraid.  The important lesson is the value of exercise, not to prevent heart problems from happening necessarily, but to alert you to potential problems before something really bad happens.  So keep exercising you vigorous young geeks.  You might turn 50 one day, too.

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.