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In December I woke up on a Monday in the middle of the night feeling very queasy and didn't feel good all that day. A million things went through my mind and I finally got to see the doctor Wednesday when he told me I had arterial fibrillation which really didn't mean anything to me though the Doc did say I should stop smoking, stay away from fried foods, etc., and, of course, I kept on shaking my head yes knowing that even though I had been threatened with a stroke I wouldn't change---yet! I also was 'introduced' to Coumindan which I am still taking 13 years later. On the following Thursday I had an echocardigram and the following day was given a holster heart monitor. I do remember going to sleep that night with the thought "Will I die tonight?"

"Where's my flip flop? I need my flip flop! Who stole my flip flop?" That is the first thing I remember waking up in the hospital---ranting and raving about my flip-flop--only one was missing! The nurse in the hospital ER was laughing and said, "Martin, you almost died and we just spent time saving you! Forget the flip-flop, that didn't need to be resuscitated, you did." And she put it on my foot!

I don't remember much about that night except calling 911 about 4 in the morning and throwing a carton of cigarettes and a book in a bag . I spent December 29, 2000 to January 2, 2001 in the hospital. Happy New Year! I do recall it being cold and my putting on a robe (Did I put that in my bag?) and telling the nurse at the desk that I was going out to check if it was snowing, as I held a pack of cigarettes in my hand. Yes I was still smoking and even though they didn't allow smoking in the hospital at that time they had smoking areas outside. The desk nurse said something to the effect that I was old enough, but not smart enough, to know what I was doing. Being a wise arse I said "What? Checking for snow?" I didn't know nurses were allowed to use that language to an old man who just had a congestive heart attack!

On January 3 I went to see "The Dame Edna Royal Tour" at the Parker Playhouse and found it and 'Dame Edna' boring! I did a lot of movie going: "Castaway", "The Family Man", "State and Main", "Miss Congenitally", "You Can Count On Me", "The Gift", plus a musical "Fosse", so obviously I wasn't rushing back to work. I did lose 16 pounds while in the hospital those few days and 7 pounds when I came home. I was under MY goal! I wouldn't give up smoking for another 8 years--some people never learn.

I went back to work on February 2 and had sex the next day! Hey, I was worried that I never would again though my doctor said that was just a myth. The following week I saw heart and lung doctors plus a vascular surgeon (who I didn't know had put a stent in my leg!) and from December 20 until the first week in February I had discovered I had arterial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), peripheral artery disease (PAD) not to forget cholesterol and high blood pressure problems.

I was going to be 16 and 1/4 years old---okay, okay, 65--and all of a sudden I was no longer an old(er) man as I referred to myself but I was now an old man taking 14 pills a day!!!! I started to think about retiring.

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