By Steve Cash / Detroit
Twenty-four years ago, I had open-heart surgery. The doctor repaired a hole in my heart and it was not a pleasant experience. They had to crack my chest open, and the recovery was quite painful.
Last week, I had another health scare. It all started when I went for my yearly physical. I had changed doctors and was now seeing my high-school classmate. You can imagine how awkward it was to get naked in front of a guy I had taken the SAT test with 50 years earlier. Judging from the look on his face, it was no picnic for him either. He probed and prodded and gave me an EKG test, too. A few days later, I got the results in the mail and everything seemed fine. The EKG test, however, was never mentioned.
A week after that the doctor called me. My EKG was abnormal and I needed to take a stress test. He gave me no specific details, but recommended a clinic where I could take the test. My panic immediately set in. I can be very creative in my negativity. I was sure it was heart disease. Open-heart surgery, no doubt. Chest cracked open again. I was in for a slow and painful recovery, if, of course, I survived at all.
I decided to go to my own cardiologist and showed him my results. He was concerned. He said it looked like a problem, but he couldn’t be sure. He agreed the stress test was a necessity. He has no openings for 10 days, so I had to wait. Ten days of pure torture. As I waited, I imagined every conceivable bad thing that could happen.
My wife and kids tried to reassure me. Their argument was that if the cardiologist was not going to see me for 10 days, it obviously must not be an emergency. They tried to comfort me with what seemed like a logical conclusion. They did not take into consideration my craziness and paranoia. In my mind, he was willing to wait 10 days, because there was no hope and any delay was a moot point.
Finally, it was D-day, Sept. 3. I went for a nuclear stress test . This is a test for old, out-of-shape people who are unable or unwilling to run on the treadmill. I met the technicians and the test began.
They shoot dye in your veins and watch the blood flow. As the test proceeded, I watched their faces and saw what I perceived to be sadness in their eyes. In my mind, I was convinced they could not hide their despair. I was severely blocked and although they tried to remain brave and professional, they could not hide the fact that my future was bleak. The test was over and I tried to get a further read on their emotions. Like good poker players, they were stoic and revealing nothing to me.
I left the building lost and in mortal fear. The next 24 hours were hell waiting for that call. My kids and wife tried to console me. They told me they loved me and would stand by me. Although they had been positive earlier in the week, through my panic and craziness, I had now convinced them that we were all probably in for the worst-case scenario..
Now it was 11:15 am the next morning. An unfamiliar number came up on my phone, I was sure it was the doctor with the devastating news. I slowly and reluctantly answered. “Hi, this is Ed Schmidt from Marty Feldman Chevrolet. We were wondering if you were interested in renewing your extended warranty?“ I laughed in his face. What timing. I told him I was expecting a call from my heart doctor whom I hoped would offer me an extended warranty on my life. We hung up and not more than a minute later the phone rang again. It was the doctor.
“Steve, this is Dr Shah. The test was great and there is no problem.” I screamed with joy. I thanked him profusely. I called my wife. I called my son MIkey, I called my son Danny. They were all overjoyed. I called my son, Bobby, whose personality is much like my own and had bought into my craziness. He seemed subdued. I asked, “Bobby, aren't you happy?” He said, yes, he was happy, but was upset that he has spent 45 minutes writing my eulogy for nothing.
My dad used to say we are all hanging by a thread. Ain't it the truth? Thank you to everyone who helped me through this. Sorry I drove you crazy!
Steve Cash is originally from Oak Park, Mich. He is a longtime real estate agent who used to do stand-up comedy in L.A. His claim to fame was winning The Gong Show in 1977, and working at the Comedy Store with such greats as David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Michael Keaton. After watching those brilliant comics perform, Steve realized he’d better make a beeline back to Detroit and get back into real estate. Steve has had articles published in a number of publications and enjoys writing and trying to make people laugh.