Modern Medicine

“Did you hear what happened to Art?”


Art is my old partner. I am a little concerned by the urgency of the question.

“He had an MI.”


“He had an MI.”

“Is he okay? What happened?”

“He wasn’t feeling well. He and his partner were at the hospital. They’d just dropped a patient off. His partner said he was pale as a ghost. They took his blood pressure at triage — 70/30. Popped him on the monitor. ST elevation. They had him in the cath lab in 15 minutes. He’s up in Denmore. You should go see him.”

I can’t believe it. Arthur. A heart attack. I ask for and get permission to go cross town to Central to see him.

I go up to the room. I am dreading what I am going to see. Art has been a hero to me. Here he is at sixty strong, vigorous, still working the street, still managing the lifts and carry-downs. I picture him frail, grey, broken with tremoring hands, on an 02 cannuala, barely able to open his eyes, a voice so weak I have to bend over to hear his words, IV lines running into both arms.

I enter the room. Two nurses stand by the foot of the bed laughing. I look at the patient. Arthur wearing only grey gymn shorts is laying on the bed his head propped against his arm. He is holding court. “They shot him right in the groin,” he says. “So we’re caring him down the stairs, trying to get him to the hospital before he bleeds out, and all he’s concerned about is his little friend. He’s shouting, “My dick! My dick! Where’s my dick?”

The nurses are in hysterics.

Art’s color is better than a California Life Guard’s. He is perfectly tanned — all except his wrist watch. He is after all a nudist.

“Arthur!” I say. “Look at you, you look great!”

“Speak of the devil,” he says. “Ladies, my old partner. Yeah, I’m doing fine, they’re taking great care of me.”

“I can see that.”

“Funny thing,” he says, after the nurses have left. “I just wasn’t feeling right. I sat down in triage to take my pressure just to see. Next thing I know I’m in the cath lab, and they’re telling me I’m having an MI. Anyway. Very little damage. I should be out of here tomorrow. Back at work in a month.”

“A month. Isn’t that fast?”

“No, I’ll chill some at the campground, maybe play some tennis after a couple weeks, then I’ll be back to work. Modern medicine.”

A month later he was back like nothing had happened.

Maybe I’ll still make it all the way to 65.

If I get some sun.

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