4.103 meeting, tech, model

Tuesday 03/14/2023

Gym machine round. Then followed up on an open A/V issue (more managing). There has been for some years, a monthly event, the First Monday Book Talk, where a speaker talks about (duh) a book, preferably one they have written. Preferably the speaker is a resident. I gave a book talk back in July 2020 (thank you blog).

The guy who has managed this event, finding the speakers mainly, is George, and George, now 96, decided he can’t do it any more, and at the last book talk (4.095) I read out his request for somebody to take over. Well, the person who was the speaker at that talk, Gigi, decided to take on that job.

Gigi is enthusiastic and I am glad she is going to do this job, but I also want to be sure that she does what George never did, which is to properly reserve the time and venue for her event and fill out our Event Planning Form in good time before the event. So I got hold of her this morning and we arranged to meet at 1pm in the lobby.

Then it was time for the writers meeting. The prompt was “inheritance” and I had written a thing, which I will put some of at the end here. I told them I had some qualms about this after I wrote it, because it felt like over-sharing personal info. Was that TMI? I asked. No, they assured me, your light tone kept it from being cringy.

I spent an hour with Gigi teaching her how to reserve the auditorium and fill out the EPF and distribute it.

In the afternoon I put in a couple of hours finishing up the chrome trim on the sting ray.

OK here’s my bit on inheritance.


My parents were far from wealthy and I inherited nothing from them — except my genes. As I’ve aged, the shortcomings of that estate have become more apparent. To begin, there is my hair, or rather, my scalp. It is commonly said that a man inherits his hair pattern from his maternal grandfather. That’s certainly true in my case. Behold Mr. Samuel F. Neill.

The genetic bequeathment that has governed much of my life since age 60, I have reason to suspect I got from my father. That is the general poor quality of my vascular tissue. I’ve got really crap arteries. Where most people’s circulatory systems are, metaphorically, polished steel, or at least nice PVC plastic, mine is made metaphorically, of terra cotta and old boots.
This first manifested around age 60, when my primary care doctor, who was also a cardiologist, noted a heart murmur. My aortic valve wasn’t closing properly; it was “regurgitating”, which is how cardiologists talk about what plumbers call “back flow”. We followed it for a couple of years; then had some diagnostic scans.
Most people with this symptom turn out to have either an infection, or a build up of calcium collecting on the valve’s triple leaflets. My leaflets were fine; but they couldn’t close properly because the aortic annulus, the ring of muscle that frames the valve, was stretching wider. Cardiologists give this the fancy Greekism of “aortic ectasia”. I was just ectastic to learn that.
This is when I got to meet Dr. Vinny, Vincent Gaudiani, who is somewhat famous in local medical circles. He’s had his hands on more hearts than practically anybody. I believe he is still practicing now, twenty years after he rebuilt my aortic valve.
I remember very clearly when Dr. Gaudiani visited me, a day post-op. He wanted to talk about my vascular tissue. He explained how he had reconstructed the valve and also replaced the ascending aorta up to the arch with Dacron. Rolling his finger against his thumb he said the tissue he removed was “very poor quality, soft, almost Marfan-like.”
Marfan syndrome is a genetic aberration that affects connective tissue throughout the body. (Do feel free to read the very informative Wikipedia article.) I don’t have any of the external signs of Marfan, like unusually long fingers or toes, but I do have bunions, flat feet, and hammer toes, which can be associated with it.
But the main issue is the crappy arteries, which next manifested twenty years after my conversation with Dr. Vinny, in late 2020, when my descending aorta, the part Dr. Vinny hadn’t replaced, “dissected”, which is to say, split from its lining. Picture the lining of a jacket sleeve that comes unstitched from the shell. I got to meet a new surgeon, Dr. Amelia Watkins, who was delighted at the chance to install a set of wire stents all up the aorta. All fixed up!
A year later the porcine aortic valve Dr. Vinny had installed finally reached its best-by date and had to be replaced. I knew in 2000, when I opted for a tissue valve, it would need replacement some day, and at the time I confidently said, “By the time I need it, they’ll be able to replace it laparoscopically” — and by golly I was right! The new valve was dropped in a procedure so simple, it could have been done out-patient.
How long can this trashy patchwork keep going? My father, who again, I strongly suspect had the same issues, reached age 95, and died of general systemic failure, nothing cardiac. So who knows? I honestly don’t worry about it.

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