Safety valve

Three years ago this week, doctors opened my chest, stopped my heart, cut out the worn, leaky and calcified valve connecting my aorta to the heart’s left ventrical, sutured in a nifty little titanium valve, jump-started my heart and grabbed lunch before doing some guy’s mitral valve or triple bypass.

It was a ho-hum day at the office for a heart surgeon who “kills” and then resuscitates cardiac patients on a routine basis. For me, it was somewhat more dramatic. I’ve had a bunch of surgeries and don’t spend much time contemplating my navel, much less my mortality. But this time I actually gave a little thought to the prospect of not waking up.

If my atheist friends were right, it would just be over. If my Christian brothers and sisters were right, I’d spend my first hour in eternity gloating over departed atheists with a smug “I toldya so!”

My new valve has performed flawlessly through more than 100 million heartbeats, and will probably still be good as new when something other than a bum ticker takes me out.

Maybe I’ll get run over by a bus. Get one of those cancers you really don’t want to get. Contract an illness I can’t pronounce and no one can survive. Slip into dementia and then oblivion. Or simply hit the old-age wall we all face if we live long enough, and the body . . . just . . . stops.

However and whenever I check out, I’ll owe the last three and the next however many years to the marvels of modern medicine and God’s healing powers.

In the time it took to draft and polish this blog post, my heart has beaten another 5 or 6 thousand times. Listen carefully when the room’s quiet, and you’ll hear its steady click-click-click. As clicks go, it’s the most reassuring one I’ll ever hear.

I’m alive. My health is pretty good. I love my family and my church. The future excites me. What more could I ask?

Thanks, Doc, and thank God.

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