©2014 Steve Bromberg

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Dr. Heart Stat

By Steve Bromberg

The last time I was in Vegas I lost. Dr. Heart Stat!

What does it mean to be at that moment between the last breath and nothing, when everything slows down just before it ends and you know it’s the end and you see yourself for who you really are. Can you imagine? Really see yourself for the first time and think holy crap and then think wait! I can’t go yet! Oops maybe it’s too late? Facing your mortality is frightening. Now I see it every day. It’s a bit ironic to land in Sin City.

Welcome to… Las Vegas! Winner winner chicken dinner! Home of Wayne Newton, The Strip, million dollar poker and The Mustang Ranch. It is also home to one of the best cardio hospitals in the country. Really!  Circumstances being what they were, I could not have found a better place to land then Vegas. What were the odds on that one? What ever they were going to do  to me didn’t matter at this point. I am dying and couldn’t do anything to stop it. Well I think I was dying.  I don’t remember much after the doors to the Cath Lab opened and some guy was talking gibberish to me and then the lights went out. Spin the wheel, place your bets. Everyone who has ever been to Vegas knows what a crazy place it is.  Any thing could happen!

From dust to dust.

The last image I had of me before the grim reaper took me was a pasty disheveled middle-aged man lying on a stainless steel platform.  A three-week greying beard, unkempt and soaked in sweat. My clothes had  9000 hard-traveled miles on them from buses, trains and planes, in one station after another. Greasy and stained from drips and spills.  It’s a miracle no one fainted peeling them off me like a banana skin with a finger and thumb. They must have used a hazmat suit. I was wishing that if I was going to die two beautiful women would come and carefully unbutton me and gently take my clothes off washing my body in milk and honey.

I woke up. I was in a hospital gown and when I woke up  I saw for a few moments my heart on a screen. It looked like it was dancing!  Someone was  in there creating havoc with unbridled passion.

Then the giggling and gyrating stopped, a short guy came prancing into the room dressed like he was on his way to a cocktail party,  gucci shoes, white linen pants and a silk print shirt left open Vegas style…

Hey you!!!!  Doctor S! We just cleaned your ventricle out! How do you feel? Everything looks good! You got a stent and it’s working beautifullllllly!

And before I had the chance to ask him, what about my heart doc?

He points that finger at me as if to say … love you baby… got to go…. buh-bye, and just like that, he was out the door.

The hospital machine was humming away. Everyone did their job. The team worked to perfection. Everything was like routine and when it was done…. NEXT!

In the ICU,  tubes jut out of me from everywhere. Two tubes were implanted in my groin. Electrodes attached to every part of my body attached to very important looking machines making noises and flashing numbers and graphs. Nurses came in every hour to check on my condition and take blood and give me meds. People were at my disposal. All day all night. Every hour on the hour. I was unable to move and in constant pain, and they looked after my every need. They would come in and chat with me, check my groin, poke and prod, check my vitals and nod with approval and sweet talk me while I peed in a pee cup. I was in a constant state of delirium and joy. Oh the love, can you feel it?

During my time in the ICU, I was able to contact my cousin to give him the good news that even though I was dying I am alive! Immediately he gets on the social media and alerts the family. I call my mother and tell her. But! before I do any of that I call Ms Susie to let her know I am not going to be landing in Albuquerque.

Well where the hell are you?

I am in Vegas.

VEGAS! You know Mark and I have been circling the airport for over an hour! You better have a good explanation!

I had a heart attack on the plane.

What? OMG! Are you ok? Where are you now?

I am in a hospital. I am alive…..

Well let us know if we need to come get you!

I was in the ICU for three days.

Sometime in the afternoon on the third day a lady in the tight business suit walked in.

Hellooooooo Mr Bromberg! I am blah blah from the business office and I am here for you to sign these papers. Can you tell me who insures you?

I looked at her. Awkward silence.  I don’t have any health insurance.

Excuse me… She mumbled some words to a nurse and left.

That evening they forgot to feed me. That night a nurse came in once looked at my vitals and left.  Another came in to take blood. Then…

The next morning another doctor came in and waved his hands over me and declared me fit to leave. Almost like that, tubes came out, they unplugged me from all the machines and moved me to the out patient floor where I spent the night with some guy who couldn’t breathe. I never saw another nurse again except before I was discharged.

My son found out on FB and called me to complain about not telling him sooner. My ex called to wish me well and thirty some odd family members got on the Facebook to offer their concerns and make jokes about dying in Vegas.

No one at the hospital would really say anything to me about my condition.

By the time I left the hospital I had been there almost four days. My clothes had been mildewing in a plastic bag. I asked about laundry service, no one knew anything. My body was black and blue and racked in pain. I had my computer and hastily made reservations at the cheapest place I could find for the weekend.

When I walked out into the blazing heat of Vegas I was numb. What now?

I climbed into the taxi the driver says where to? I  said Circus Circus…. He laughed…

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Steve Bromberg’s Vietnam

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All photos © 2014 Steve Bromberg. Used with permission.

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About the Author/Photographer:

Steve Bromberg, a photographer and writer, is currently traveling and exploring Vietnam on a motorbike and his artist statement is simple, “Life always seems to surprise me.”

Website: stevebromberg.com and his other writings can be found at A Silk Thread.