Too Mean to Die

The ablation of my atrium (heart) was Friday.

One thing that happens before an ablation is the patient meets the entire team that will have access to the procedure. Friday this involved four or five doctors and probably a dozen nurses. It may have been more nurses. I lost track early on.

It’s really hard for me to concentrate on a doctor on the right of the bedside who is explaining the upcoming Trans-Esophageal Echocardiogram needed because of a wacko coumadin reading the previous week while, at the same time, a nurse-esthesiologist is putting in the IV on my left side that will transmit sweet sleep into my veins soon.

I’m much better about needles and pokes than I was as a kid, but still, I need to concentrate on the fact it is happening and reassure myself there is no need for alarm. I lost track of the TEE doc.

In earlier weeks before the ablation, I had detected there had been medical reticence about my procedure (involving something akin to high mortality risks), but by Friday, however, the team mentality had taken over and everybody was sure they’d beat the opposing forces. The competition was my left atrium cells that were misfiring, these being most likely near the in and out hole that leads to my lungs through my pulmonary artery (at least as I understood it). Not to be confused with the pulmonary veins. Four burns and death to the correct cells and the misfiring electricity might be reined in.

It’s a lot like taming a wild mustang on the Nevada desert, I imagine.

The pulmonary artery, you may remember (har har sure), is one of only two arteries in the body to carry DEoxygenated blood, and the only one that does this after you are no longer a zygote/fetus.

I can’t remember if the catheter that would enter my heart was supposed to arrive via the superior vena cava or the interior vena cava. Regardless, it would arrive in the right atrium, and need to get to the left one, so it would first have to perforate the lining between right and left chambers. Somehow even now this doesn’t sound particularly enticing or safe.

One of the final nurses to approach me before the surgery suggested I walk into the surgery room, which I did, but never have been asked to do before, ablation or other procedure.

She asked me what music I would like to have playing during my procedure. I didn’t intend to hear it, hadn’t had time to arrive at an appropriate playlist, so I didn’t really care, but I thought a bit and determined Mahler would be a good choice if I were going to have music to die by. 8th Symphony, 2nd Movement, parts 5 and 6: “Blicket auf…” and “Alles vergangliche”

(I figured it was better to ask for the 8th and a bit more uplifting than asking for his “Songs of the Dead Children,” which might have been more appropriate, actually.)

Doctor Marianus and Chorus

Look up to the redeeming gaze,
all you gentle penitents,
that you shall be gracefully transformed to blissful fortune!
May every better sense be ready at your service;
Virgin, Mother, Queen Goddess, be ever merciful!

Alles Vergängliche

Chorus mysticus

All things transitory are mere parables;
Here the insufficient becomes fulfillment;|
Here the indescribable is accomplished;
the eternal feminine draws us up.

That’s deep and perfect music to ablate Dennis by.

The nurse, however, gave me a blank stare.

“Do you know who Mahler is?” I asked.

She didn’t. “Is he that Belgian?”


She asked if I only listened to classical music. Hell no. Bing Crosby, Beatles, almost anything, but I requested no twangy country to die by.

She had do look around in the nearby cloud and pull some Beethoven off I Tunes or something, then when it finished, not being his best opus, I heard some cello sonata I didn’t recognize. It was soft in the background and kind of stupid. I hope it relaxed them, it did nothing for me, especially since soon thereafter I disappeared from consciousness.

Further reports may ensue about this recent stay.

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