The recent unexpected death of James Gandolfini from what could be a heart attack really hit home. He was marvelous as Tony Soprano. Gandolfini pulled off a near miracle: playing a compassionate family man sociopath so brilliantly we found ourselves cheering on the modern day don. It’s common to hear what a swell person someone was after they die, but by all accounts Gandolfini really was a great guy. What caught my attention is he was only 51 years-old, same as me. I’m not sure when his last cardio check up was or if that’s even the cause of death. But a simple cath, maybe even a stress test, might have saved his life.
I survived my massive heart attack with little or no damage. How or why some do and some don’t is a good question. I also suffered complications after a stent was put in, specifically, what looked like a hole opened up between the two chambers causing a panoply of weird, terrifying symptoms. It was about a centimeter in width, that’s a good sized PFO and it would have to be fixed surgically. It’s not official yet, but there’s good news there, that hole appears to be healing on its own. The bad news is the good news will probably make it harder to qualify for disability — not Big Gubmint disability, it’s between me and CIGNA that both I and my employer paid for out of pocket. It’s not much, it works out to about $200/week, this is not a big score. But it’s critical to me: if it doesn’t come through I’ll end up dead broke at the end of this month and possibly fired for taking time off to look into it. Which could leave me homeless with no employer sponsored health insurance while recovering from a major heart condition that requires expensive drugs to be taken everyday for many more months. All at a time when I’m supposed to avoid stress. Only in America huh?