The Pig Saves The Bacon

Pig Two

(Please read previous post first if you haven’t been here before, thank you)

There.  I’ve broken my rule of never posting photos that aren’t mine.  However, not having any pigs around I thought it would be fine this once.  First, I came across an article on  Mail Online (click on link to read) that I found interesting because it reminds me of my question to my cardiologist (who now thinks I’m a bit odd…LOL) about vegetarians and animal rights activists.  Does anyone refuse a Bovine or Porcine valve based on ethics?  He’d never encountered the issue.  It was an easy decision for me.  Reality is often a bitter bite, and I am grateful for being alive, as I am grateful to the pigs.  (I will post of photo of the valve next time).

Moving forward to more interesting things, I hope…and a little background before we go further into healing.

In 1994, my mother had quadruple by-pass surgery.  I’d followed her in and out of the hospital for several years, and after a third and nearly fatal heart attack, the doctors decided she needed quadruple by-pass surgery to save her life.  Everything was routine.  I still remember saying goodbye to her as they took her to surgery.  During surgery, she experienced seven embolisms and was pronounced to be in a “vegetative” coma. I can still tell you in detail the color of the family waiting room as I sat there alone, waiting and waiting for hours as one family after the other was assured their loved one was fine, and the waiting room emptied out slowly, with happy families hugging each other and surgeons coming and going with smiles on their faces.  It was a dreary day in New York City.  The trees were still.  The sky was unusually dark. I was alone in the waiting room in the late afternoon  when I received the news that there had been some problems during surgery.  My mother never knew what happened.  She never recovered.  She lingered for nine days on life support.  After much difficulty both emotionally and legally, I signed the papers to terminate my mother’s life.  My brothers and I had consulted and agreed.  The doctors were reluctant.  She did not have paperwork in place.  We spent time with her doing all the things you do for people in a coma, playing music, talking to her, saying “I Love You” often, but after nine days of this and negative test results, we terminated her physical life.  It was my hand that would sign the papers.  Was it the adult decision to make?  Absolutely.  It was also one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.  This weighed heavily on my mind as I prepared for my own surgery.  I tried to push back the persistent memory but it popped up continually like a computer virus.

I  am a strong person.  Vocal, yes.  Dramatic at times?  I’m sure.  But strong.  Yet, no matter how strong we are there are events in our lives that stick with us regardless of how well we’ve adjusted to them or how adult we’ve become, or how spiritual we think we are.  My mother’s death was one of these events.  As I planned for my own heart surgery, I struggled with this memory.  What if?  The question just seemed to stick around.  Well, I thought, if its going to stick around, then let’s face it.  What if?  Even though the circumstances are different, even though I’ve done my best to have a better approach to health – What if I die?  Worse.  What if I am in the small percentage who never fully recover?  There are always risks.  I did my research, my paperwork,  made my plans, followed the requests of my cardiologist to do every feasible test to rule out issues and risk factors similar to my mother’s and I dealt with the realities of the What if? issue.

After countless MRI’s, blood tests, dental prep (genetic issues) I faced the dreaded (dreaded only by me and, actually, was painless) Cardiac catheterization on Monday, January 7, 2013 to decide whether a by-pass procedure was needed in addition to a valve replacement.  If necessary, both procedures would be done at the same time.  But when?  I still didn’t know, nor did the doctors.   Everything seems to depend on everything else.

Results.  A miracle.  A huge miracle.  No blockages.  I, who come from a family of ill-health, an older brother who has had several major strokes, a younger brother who died from liver failure, I have no coronary blockages.  I have no coronary blockages. I let this sit in my spirit and suddenly, although the What if? was still there, the voice wasn’t quite so loud.   I have no coronary blockages. I can do anything.  I can do anything. I can do THIS. (we will revisit coronary blockages and health in a different post)

The following day, Tuesday, January 8, 2013, somewhere around noon, I had the valve replacement surgery.  Here I am.  Blogging about it.  It’s actually a rather common surgery, but not for me.  This is my experience, my heart, my What if? dragon that needed conquering, and my life.  So, I’ll blog about it until I no longer want to blog about it.  Maybe one person will be soothed or helped in some way by reading this.  If so, then I’ve done my job.

More to come…..

It’s fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that–it’s all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it’s unknown and it’s plain sailing. Everything is unknown–then you’re ahead of the game. That’s what it is. Right?

~ John Lennon



8 thoughts on “The Pig Saves The Bacon

  1. Powerful post — and I can so relate! Have had “What if?” drop me to me knees at several points in my life, (not over physical health, but drop me nonetheless). Thank you for sharing your story….


  2. Hi Jackie, reading your post brought me to similar reflections about life experiencing, and made me think “oh yeah, she too”,

    And just today ( I know: there are no coincidences :-)) I read an article about two mainstream ways of thinking for information processing: analytical-rational and intuitive-experiential. And every human in somewhere in between these ways in explaining what (s)he is living (as there are two sides of the same coin :-)).This is called Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory (CEST) , a dual-process model of perception developed by Seymour Epstein. Check at
    It made me more clear what we have in common. This is my piece of thought:
    As we are aging, “things” are happening around us, ripening us in life and in the ending of that life (alike the 2 sides of the same “coin”). And as we grow older,we become more and more intuitive-experiential, or should I say “reflective” looking for the lessons learned and talking about them.
    I wish you more of this, cause it is the joy of being reminded of being you, and I wish myself the luck to read about this in many other of your next postings.


    1. Michel: I love your comments. Thank you for the Seymour Epstein link. This is why I enjoy open dialogue – we learn from each other, reduce the power of fear, and share in common experience. While, on one hand, this has been a major interruption in my life, on the other hand, it has illuminated for me ideas and considerations that did not seem to exist before, and has enabled me to shed a few things that I should not have been clinging on to. My feeling is that there are all these doors around us, waiting to be opened. To open them without wonder seems pointless. To share what we learn enables us all to understand exactly how loved we are by the world, by people, by life itself. I hope you are doing well, my friend. Thank you for always reading the blog.


  3. Oh Jackie, thanks so much for this post. I can really feel the angst you went through, first with your mother, and then with yourself. I recently got my paperwork in order, just to be prepared. And in the next hour I plan to be riding my trike. Every day life is a risk – we just tend to take it for granted when one great day follows another. Wishing you many great days!


    1. Su: I love this “Every day life is a risk – we just tend to take it for granted when one great day follows another”. ‘Tis so true. And that’s the point. Embrace the whole damn thing!

      I am now trying to catch up with your blog – as you can imagine, I haven’t been reading much of anything lately but I’m ready. Forward. And there is so much more to say, and learn…… friend, I wish you the best.


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