The impending re-birth of Victor Schoenmeijer

“I’m made of clay
I fear I’m the only one who thinks this way
I’m always falling down the same hill
bamboo puncturing this skin
and nothing comes bleeding out of me just like a waterfall I’m drowning in

Nine Inch Nails, I do Not Want This, the downward spiral, 1994


“Save the salesman…from the kitchen”

Yardbin (my old band), Storm Warning, untitled, 2006

I was sitting at a little table today with 3 other fellas with varying degrees of fear in their eyes. I probably had the least fear showing, but that’s cuz I was in poker mode; inside I probably had the most. We were in the typical generic hospital meeting room; clinical, a bit run down with a cheap brown fibreboard table and cheap chairs of varying colors and decay. The other three guys were substantially older than myself, which makes sense I guess. Two of them had people with them; one guy had his sister and her adult daughter and another had what appeared to be his nurse. It was pretty much a whole bunch of waiting peppered with small amounts of quite useful information.

A social worker, a nurse, an anaesthesiologist and a previous open heart patient all took their turns telling us what to expect, and how to prepare. We also got to watch a movie. No popcorn though. I spent alot of time staring at the walls of St. Paul’s Cardiac pre admission section meeting room, and reflecting on things. Between moments of new information there was alot of repeating of things I already knew, so I was able to get intimately familiar with those walls. I most enjoyed the visit from the Vancouver Open Heart Association volunteer. This is a group of people who have all gone thru open heart surgery and offer support and resources for new patients.

Our VOHA volunteer had his bypass 6 years ago, and seemed quite healthy and happy. He apparently had his surgery at 70. That kind of bummed me out a bit…this is an old man’s disease, for the most part. The flip side was that he was a mighty healthy and happy looking 76 year old dude. Says he does alot of golfing. He gave us all cute little red heart shaped pillows. Not cuz they’re cute, but because they are actually important tools for the recovery process. You need to hug the pillow alot apparently; the rehab people will explain more in the hospital I guess.

The social worker was actually quite informative as well; he mentioned alot of things about recovery process and things you can and cannot do (no driving for 3-6 weeks, no lifting anything over 10 lbs for 2-3 months, no doing any heavy chest lifting for 4-6 months etc etc). He also spoke about the fact that other than the broken ribs, you’re pretty much good to go in a week or two. In most cases.

The nurse did all the scaring. First off, the ol’ waking up after surgery with a tube down your throat trick…apparently a fair number of people panic when they wake up and feel that, and have to be put back to sleep. Then there’s the post surgery dementia bit; apparently alot of people get quite confused and can panic in the days immediately following surgery. She did indicate that that’s pretty much age related, so maybe I won’t see too much of that. Then there’s the depression. I wonder if it’s worse than the feeling of hopelessness and frustration you get before the surgery?

The nurse did say that the younger the patient, the harder it is before surgery and the easier after; that’s apparently the opposite for older patients. I wonder why that is?

I asked Ruth to go home tonight; I just needed some me time before all this goes down; an opportunity to freak out a bit and just try and come to terms with things. There was a moment last night in bed where we both realized that there was a chance that it could be the last time we’re in bed together; it is major surgery and major complications can and do happen. Obviously the chances are very very slim, but still…it was one of those moments where time stops and there’s nothing you can do but have a good cry about it. It really hit home; in two days I’m either going to be completely revamped, or not here at all. Most likely the first. 😉 It’s probably the first time in my life that I’ve really had to stare mortality in the face, and I gotta say it’s not so enjoyable.

So that’s all the negative stuff. Now what’s with the title of the blog? Well, that’s my birth name, apparently. I put that in the title because all of this is a legacy from my birth mother; yes, according to my lipidologist Familial hypercholesterolemia is quite common in the Dutch, not the East Indians so much. Whoda thunk it. Anyways, yes, Elma Schoenmeijer, your son is getting his ticker revamped in 36 hours or so. I’m looking forward to the results. The process…not so much. Don’t get me wrong, though, I don’t identify with my birth name or family at all; obviously my adoptive family is my family. (And hey, the hidden agenda here is that maybe a birth family member will google the name and discover that I’m around.)

I said to Ruth last night that I’m molting. I’ve got an opportunity few people get (well, actually everybody gets this opportunity every day, but we usually don’t do anything with it): a do-over. My life is undergoing a bigger upheaval than I can say I’ve ever experienced before. I quit smoking last March. I started eating uber healthy (well comparatively hehe) last November. And now in February I get new arteries. I may even get a transfusion. Free detox wheee! To top it all off I get an infusion of cash. So I’m molting. But the insides, not the outside. Out with the old and in with the newer, better, me.

Alot of heart surgery patients say they feel 10-30 years younger after it’s done. Being 40 I’m not so sure I want to feel 30 years younger, but 10 or 20…yeah baby! Who gets to feel like they’re 20 again? I mean physically, not emotionally. I look forward to it immensely, even if I only feel a few years younger after.

See, in retrospect I can actually pinpoint the exact day that my energy started to decrease and my pain started to go up. I was still working for Nokia, and I had an early morning flight to Calgary. I was sitting in the airport, and all of a sudden I felt faint, my chest hurt, I had trouble breathing, the whole bit. At one point it crossed my mind that I was having a heart attack. And then it passed, and I didn’t think much of it. I did see a doctor a couple weeks later and we checked the heart enzymes and did an ECG, but there was no issues. My cholesterol was quite high, and we went on a drug and diet regimen to bring it down. This was all shortly after 9-11. So, 6 and a half years ago.

It was at that point when I stopped having joy in doing things. I slowly stopped snowboarding. I stopped hiking. I stopped bicycling. The gym became history. Heck I even slowly ended up quitting having parties and other social events. I wrote alot of this off to depression about my relationship at the time (which was an ember quickly burning out) and even 9-11 itself; that was a life changing day for me. I basically gave it every excuse except that my body was having problems. I blamed external and internal things but never once looked at the physical self and the role it played.

So, anyways, over the past few years I’ve noticed and felt my enthusiasm and excitement for things has sunk lower and lower. I’ve had less and less energy, and it’s been dragging me down, I’m sure of it. My self discipline, my work ethic, my social relationships they’ve all suffered over the past few years. So you can understand if I’m a bit excited about removing one of the major probable causes for this.

So my impending rebirth is coming. 36 hours from now we should be about halfway through the surgery; the molt not yet falling. It will probably be a week or so before I write in here again, unless I get some massive inspiration tomorrow (although I suspect I’ll be too busy fending off panic hehe), so bye for now; worst case scenario I’ve left a 250 post legacy 😉 . And tiff, if you come visit, you don’t have to be wholesome bahhahaha. Wait…yes you do. Buhbye bad arteries and chest pain.


1 comment so far

  1. Duane Storey on

    That’s something that most people never understand, what it’s like to brush with your own mortality. I hit it when I was in the hospital with five broken bones in my face. Carl Sagen once said that all people should “almost die” at least once, because it forces your life into perspective, and makes you really appreciate what’s important.

    I called the hospital a while ago, sounds like you’re doing fine! Will pop by tomorrow and see you. Although, by the time you get this, I’ll have already been down there.

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