The Cardiologist Tells My Dad To Wear A Halter

In November he walked effortlessly through the streets of Las Vegas. He is the picture of 83 year old health. I worry anyway.

See embarrassing addendum at the end of this entry.

I called my mom as I got into the car for my ride home tonight. We speak most evenings.

“We went to Dr. Saltzman,” she said.

My parents go to the doctor’s office like most folks go to the grocery store. In South Florida there are specialists for every body part and bodily function. This doctor is the cardiologist my dad sees.

“He noticed something on the cardiogram,” she continued.

It was 11:40 PM when I spoke to my mom. Either I was an afterthought or she didn’t think this was pressing.

She went on to explain my dad would wear an instrumented halter for a day and the doctor would make decisions based on that.

Here’s where my generation and my folks depart. I asked my mom what the doctor said the problem might be and what would be the treatment? Nothing. My parents asked no questions. How can you not be curious in a situation like this?

I know my dad will read this first thing in the morning, so let me make perfectly clear, I understand it’s a generational thing. Their generation was brought up not to question those in authority, whereas my generation… well this is a photo of my generation in action questioning authority. I spent the better part of a decade doing nothing but questioning authority!

My dad is a miracle of medical science. His arterial plumbing has been cleaned and rerouted in the past. In November he walked effortlessly through the streets of Las Vegas. He is the picture of 83 year old health. I worry anyway.

Were the shoe on the other foot I would not be so sanguine. I would ask more questions. But in the end, like my dad, I would place my faith and fate in the hands of others.


Embarrassing addendum:

Tonight, my friend/physician Steve sent the following:

In the piece about your father, the cardiologist almost certainly DID NOT tell you dad to wear a ‘halter.’ If he did, his man boobs would probably stick out. What he more like was told was to wear a HOLTER, as in Holter monitor. That’s a device that records the heartbeat for as long as you wear it (typically 24 hours) to look for abnormal heart rhythms.

Holter, not halter. Different spelling. Different concept.

Sturm and storm.

Into The Hospital

I don’t remember my father as an early kind of person. He is now – big time.

I went to sleep last night around 3:30 AM. My dad rapped on hard my door around 7:30 AM. He was told to be at the hospital between 9:00 and 10:00 and he was aiming for 9:00… maybe 8:45 AM.

He’s going to the hospital today though his procedure won’t take place until tomorrow. Today is a day for medicating. His angiogram uses a dye which is stressful on his already compromised kidneys. The medicine will reduce that stress.

It’s a 20 minute drive from my parents condo in Boynton Beach to the hospital in Boca Raton. I remembered this hospital from when I lived down here nearly 40 years ago. The area was less congested, more residential, but the hospital building is still intact and well kept.

Boca Raton is different now. We pulled into the valet parking area. A Rolls pulled behind us.

When you check in, you become a part in the massive hospital machine. Hopefully you’re getting the treatment you need, though that result seems ancillary. The hospital is just moving you through the system, in much the same way UPS moves packages.

We walked in and sat in a room where patients are admitted. Wrong room. A volunteer was called to walk us through the maze to the correct admitting room.

After a few questions my dad was led to an alcove screened off with a curtain. There are eight beds in this unit, though none but my dad’s is in use right now as I type.

Two nurses walked in and began to prep my dad in much the same way Swift preps turkeys at Thanksgiving. They were fast and efficient – a well coordinated team. It only took a few minutes for my dad to give blood, get hooked to monitors and receive an IV drip.

While all this was going on his cardiologist walked in.

In our society, we encourage the brightest to become physicians. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, they often are not our most coordinated or athletic. That’s OK for diagnosis, but these doctors are also opening us up and sticking instruments inside our most vital organs. That part has always concerned me.

The plan is for my dad to have his angiogram around 7:30 AM tomorrow morning. Most likely that will be followed by the insertion of a stent.

I asked, and was told, bypass surgery (which my dad had 16 years ago) was an unlikely result. Of course bypass surgery is what worries us.

The nurse informs us that my dad’s room is ready and someone will be down to get him in a little while. His trip through the hospital machine has begun.

Bought Off By Cookies

Every year, like clockwork, they arrive for Weatherman’s Day&#185. They are cookies – amazing cookies with zillions of calories and enough butterfat to drive a cardiologist to drink. A local bakery, part of a national chain selling cookie arrangements, sends them.

The bakery hopes the cookies will get on TV, giving them lots of exposure for minimal cost. And, the food slut I am – they get on the air!

I think, after having these cookies the past few years, I understand the incredible temptation an addict faces. There’s just no way for me to resist the cookies. I am powerless.

Even before the first bite, I am tasting them.

For some reason, when the cookies come, I get very popular. People who have no idea where the Weather Center is, amble into the studio nose first. They are an easy giveaway to a grateful staff already hopped up on caffeinated coffee.

This year there’s one small problem. The little sign on the cellophane wrapping said, “Don’t open until Weatherman’s Day, February 2nd.” February 2nd is actually Groundhog Day. Weatherman’s Day doesn’t come until the 5th.

Right – like I’d wait. These puppies are gone.

&#185 – What, you haven’t sent cards! Hey, I hadn’t heard of Weatherman’s Day either. Thank heavens for the Internet. Here’s what they’re saying about it on

National Weatherman’s Day honors weathermen, and woman who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather. Despite major technological advances and supercomputers, forecasting the weather is still a tricky, and ever changing business.

Knowing the weather is important in so many ways. It affect how we dress, where we go, and even if we go. Space launches are made or delayed depending upon the weather. And, knowing the weather can save lives. The most obvious example is knowing when and where hurricanes or tornadoes may hit.

According to the Air Force News, Weatherman’s Day “commemorates the birth of John Jeffries, one of America’s first weathermen”. Jeffries was born on Feb 5, 1744. He kept weather records from 1774 to 1816.

If you see a weatherman today, give them your appreciation for a job well done.

Last Day On Board The Norwegian Star

Aboard the Norwegian Star

This is our last full day at sea. That’s sad. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be pushing a pile of bags eight feet high toward LAX.

I first woke up at 3:30 AM. My throat was killing me. For me, this is often the first symptom of a cold. Better now than a week ago.

I did go back to sleep, but not before noticing the ship is rocking a little more noticeably than before. It’s not rough. It’s not placid either. We’re sailing under partly cloudy skies, but the exposed areas are nowhere near as deep a blue as yesterday or the days before.

It’s winter. In Southern California, that’s the time of year storms sweep across the Pacific. Last week, the Norwegian Star ran into very rough seas as it moved up the coast. This week will be much more docile.

There are white caps on the sea surface, but I think that’s more a short term effect of the wind and not an indication of sea height. Of course, given enough time, wind produces waves.;

I posted an entry last night after the magic show, but that wasn’t the end of our night.

Many cruise ships have nightly ‘midnight buffets’. Not the Norwegian Star. That’s probably because food is available, in quantity, around the clock.

There is one ‘special’ buffet each week, the ‘chocoholic buffet’. Last night was the night.

It is an endless feast of cakes and cookies and mousses (Is mousses actually a word?). All the goodies are flanked by chocolate displays and ice sculptures.

If this was a test of self discipline, I failed miserably.

I sincerely believe a cardiologist, upon seeing the ‘chocoholic buffet,’ would begin weeping uncontrollably.

As Helaine, Steffie and I finished and were getting ready to walk upstairs (actually, for me it is beginning to approach waddle upstairs) we spied the captain! He was standing with another officer near the entrance to the Versailles Dining Room, where the buffet was being held.

I’m not sure why, but I walked over to speak with him. We talked for a few minutes, and though he was cordial, I wasn’t expecting an invitation to the ‘Captain’s Table,’ if such a thing even exists anymore.

Here’s what I learned. This ship is much easier to maneuver than you might expect, especially considering its size.

The Norwegian Star has no rudder! That astounded me. Instead, the rear propellers rotate a full 360&#176, allowing us to pivot or round a sharp corner (as we’ve done getting in and out of ports).

Because of it’s ability to quickly swing around, we don’t need to use a tug boat. I would assume that’s quite a savings for Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Back to today. It’s long sleeve weather, though I’m fighting the tide! We’re leaving the tropics and heading back toward the real world.

You can tell people are preparing to leave. On the in-house TV channel the cruise director (Mike from Niagara Falls, Ontario – no Julie McCoy) is giving the disembarking instructions. What can you bring? What can’t you bring? How much can you bring?

There are more cameras out that on the previous days. Maybe people have discovered they still have room on their flash cards. Who knows?

This afternoon was the crew talent show. I was going to miss it unit Ephren, our cabin steward, made it known he was singing and asked us to attend. How could we not?

Speaking of Ephren, when I walked in the room this afternoon, he and his assistant were cleaning the cabin and arguing (maybe it was a spirited discussion) in Tagalog, the Phillipine language.

No punchline. It was just weird. You seldom get to walk in on a Tagalog argument without traveling to Manila first.

Ephrem was second to perform. He sang, in English, and did a pretty good job.

Actually, much of the crew was reasonably talented, though not enough that you’d want to call Ticketron when “Crew Show” comes to your town.

We’re seeing Dave Heenan again tonight! That will be four times on this cruise.

Meanwhile our room is torn apart. Helaine has started reorganizing to repack our bags. By 1:00 AM they’ll all be outside our door.

It’s so sad.

Well, that’s it for the cruise. We’re still on the ship until tomorrow morning, but I’ll be a little too busy to post. There will be more to say when I get back to Connecticut.

Tomorrow will be a very long day. San Pedro to LAX to Las Vegas to Windsor Locks… get the car… drive home. Yikes!

I wonder if Steffie could be convinced to carry me?

Out To Dinner

A major Saturday for Helaine and me – we went out to dinner with another couple. This is huge in the general social scheme of things as we’re normally stay-at-home types.

We were having dinner with Amy and Rob. Amy is Helaine’s friend and I had never met Rob. Helaine and Amy met online through a project they were both involved in and then, through Rob’s work, Amy and Rob moved to Connecticut.

We chose to take them to Tony and Lucille’s on New Haven’s Wooster Street. Wooster Street is the heart of New Haven’s “Little Italy.” Many of the residents and business owners trace their roots back to Amalfi. It’s no surprise that Amalfi is New Haven’s sister city.

Helaine and I have been going to Tony and Lucille’s for over 20 years. It is a family restaurant in the truest sense of the word. Parents are in the kitchen. Children are on the floor waiting tables. In many ways, we are treated as if we’re part of the family.

When Steffie was born, it was the first place we took her! Sitting at a small table in the corner, we put Steffie’s carrier on the floor next to Helaine. Lucille, in her pre-grandma days, took Steffie and carried her around the restaurant while we ate.

Did I mention the food is really great?

We met Rob and Amy at 7:00 and sat right down. The restaurant was crowded. Local colleges, including Yale, are in the midst of their graduation frenzy. Parents are in from all over the place often celebrating with their graduating children.

Speaking of which, the governor of a nearby state was there eating. Included in his entourage were his family and what I assume were state troopers, standing watch. They were ensconced in a side room – private but visible from the main room.

Memo to the gov – I won’t mention your name here, but the folks who waited on you were less than thrilled with your attitude. Would it be so difficult to be gracious? These people were working hard for you.

During dinner people cam up and said hello. I’ve been here a long time. I enjoy that. But I was irked by one woman – and she probably didn’t mean to upset me.

She sat near me and told me she liked me but that she thought I was wrong most of the time. Grrrrrr. I’m certainly not right all the time, but that was an exaggeration on her part – and why? What was she trying to accomplish?

If she knew how hard I work trying to be right and how upsetting it is to me when the forecast doesn’t come in as predicted, she probably would have chosen her words differently. I guess knowing those things isn’t her obligation.

We ate our dinner and walked across the street. I’m sure it’s somewhat sacrilegious, but we had dinner at Tony and Lucille’s and walked across the street to Libby’s for desert. Libby’s is an old style Italian bakery.

The line out front was as long as we’d ever seen, stretching out the door and on to Wooster Street. As we snaked our way inside, we caught a glimpse of what was there. If you’re on a diet or watching carbs… hell, if you’re watching anything, this isn’t the place to go.

In order to get people to eat things that are so bad for them they’ve got to be delicious!

I don’t remember what anyone else had, but mine was a chocolate mousse concoction. Somewhere there is a cardiologist who did not sleep last night because he dreaded I was eating this thing. It is the proverbial heart attack on a plate.

It was so amazingly good!

We came back to the house where Steffie was waiting, dessert in hand. Steffie really likes Amy, so she was happy to be home on a Saturday night to say hi (and start the coffee while we were in the car).

All-in-all a very enjoyable night.