I Just Needed A Valve Job

They make heart surgery so routine now, but it's still tough on a man's pride

This summer I was going to learn how to take it easy. And then it turned out that I needed heart surgery. So now I'm taking it easy as a slow-moving, achy guy who ran chest-first into a wall with a sharp stick protruding from it. I shuffle down the sidewalk, wary of bicyclists and uneven ground, aware that a guy doesn't get the sort of pity for this that would have been his due even 20 years ago. That is the fate of heart surgery. It became one of those ordinary miracles.

Fifty years ago, in my boyhood, a...

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