Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friends and readers,

First, thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts, notes and cards.

As many of you know, I (I will write in first person instead of the usual third-person) underwent open-heart surgery on May 31st for the repair of an aortic aneurysm and a defective aortic heart valve. I am six weeks, almost seven, into the recovery. Objectively, (medically), the recovery has gone well. I was released to full activity on July 2nd. Subjectively, well, the recovery has sometimes swerved.

Many recovering heart patients incur depression and anxiety. The reasons are not entirely clear, but just the shock to the physical systems and the physical limits inherent in the recovery are enough to drag most people down. I have had some anxiety and depression throughout the recovery.

Some predictable thoughts and general fears come forward. When, if ever, will one be back to full speed and vigor? When can one get back to one’s favorite activities? Will one ever get the edge back, that little occasional swagger, that private smile that rises from a job well done or a thought well reasoned?

And some thoughts more tangible. When can I ride the motorcycle again? When can I sit through a double feature at my favorite movie house, the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque?

Both of those questions have been answered. And perhaps the psychic recovery has caught up with the physical recovery.

Last night, a friend and I went to the midnight movie at the Guild. It was the French-Czech science fiction film “Fantastic Planet”. It is an amazing film. Stunning animation, wondrous score and a provocative plot line. It was originally released in 1973 in America (probably to a lot of stoned college kids) and has since developed a cult following. I first saw it in 1986 on USA Nightflight.

The audience was a mash of art students, old hippies, film geeks like my friend and I, and stoned teenagers. It was a great film, a wild audience, and a great time.

And today, I rode the motorcycle for the first time. I was concerned that my weakened upper body strength would severely limit my riding. So I went on a short and measured ride, stopped and enjoyed an iced green tea (the strongest thing I drink), and generally got a couple hours of my youth restored.

I am not back all the way. There will be more pensive moments, some down days, and some doubts to be banished or assimilated. But with a fast motorcycle, a legion of thoughtful friends and family, the swimming pool and some edgy films, I know that I am coming back in black!