As most of you know, I'm recently back from a sudden trip to the hospital for a few days for a very bad heart attack. More of that in a moment. But first, I want to thank each and every one of you - tearfully - for your prayers and well-wishes. That such an outpouring of good will should come from so many to someone so unworthy of them has truly been a comfort, and I know in some sense that I would not be here now to write this if so many had not lifted me up, and had not the most merciful and Holy Trinity not hearkened to those prayers and taken compassion on me. I want especially to thank those who have been here for me and with me through this: John and Nancy Estes, my friend of many many years Dr. Scott DeHart, and his and Nancy Estes' sons, Wesley, Calvin, Alex and Bennett DeHart, their (and my) friend Abel Aguilar, and all those who were there. “Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (St. Matthew 25:36) Thank you, thank you to all of you, for your prayers, well-wishes, and visitations and I hope and pray for your every blessing.
On Tuesday January 4th, during the second week of my "Christmas vacation," I began to experience a dramatic shortness of breath, a tightness in the chest, and very heavy lung congestion. At the time I was having a private conversation on Facebook with my friend Scott DeHart, but increasingly I was panicking, unable to get my breath, and quickly losing strength. Scott persuaded two of his sons to drive over, which they did, and once here, they helped me walk outside. Normally such a short walk wouldn't have exhausted me, but this time it did. They called an ambulance, and off I was whisked to the hospital. By this time I was bent over double, hyper-ventilating, and unable to get my breath. Scott's boys and a neighbor lady helped calm me down and get me breathing slower and more normally. At the time, given the suddenness of the onslaught, the congestion, and shortness of breath, I thought perhaps it was covid. In the ambulance I calmed down more, and we eventually made it to the hospital emergency room.
I was booked into the emergency room with "respiratory distress", and promptly given a face-diaper so I could breath more carbon dioxide. They did give me an oxygen bottle (several in fact), which did help somewhat, though to be truthful, it was those gulps of air I snuck in when they weren't looking and when I took the mask down that helped more than anything. THat, plus I would sneak the oxygen into my mouth rather than my nostrils due to the sinus-cartilege problems I have.
The emergency triage tested me twice for Covid, the first coming back negative, the second time I never learned the results. About 10 hours later (one gentleman had been in the emergency room for over twelve hours when I arrived... that's how bad it was. Another two gentlemen almost that, and a couple of ladies over 8 hours). At this juncture, things began to move and move quickly, for a cardio doctor informed me that their enzyme tests were showing that I not only had had a heart attack, but that it was still going on. I was more or less immediately wheeled into emergency at that point, placed in ICU, for more blood tests and so on. At this point a cardiac surgeon showed up, told me they must do a catheterization, and probably an angioplasty and to put in a heart stint. I initially resisted this and after a couple of phone calls with Dr. DeHart and my sister, and a long conversation with a nurse practitionar, I decided to let them do it. I didn't have exactly a clear picture initially what their concern was, but it was the nurse practitoner who told me it was most likely a massive blockage in one of the aerteries and veins that pumps blood to the heart itself. And all of this was further complicated by blood pressure so high that this caused further alarm among the medical staff.
After the catherization, angioplasty, and installation of a stint, I was informed that the blockage in that artery - the medical profession calls it the "widow-maker" - was about 80%, and the doctors apparently told my friend Dr DeHart and my sister Jackie Comstock that the blockage was total. I had been living on borrowed time, and the survival rate for heart attacks such as mine was only 12%. I was, and am, exceedingly lucky, and mercifully blessed, to be alive at all.
Effect on Me and the website:
After the installation of the stint, I was eventually told by the cardiac doctor that because of the blockage, and because of the possibility that the heart attack was due to the chronic condition or also because of a sudden acute condition piled on top of the chronic one, my heart muscle pumps at an efficiency about 15% less than the average heart. In cardio-vascular medicine, that's considered to be in the very bad category. In short, I had a two-day heart attack, have permanent congestive heart failure which has already done permanent damage to my heart which we're trying to mitigate, and a complete lack of energy, and all of this will take some time to repair. And I will never return nor be able to return to the pace and load of work with which you are familiar. Some of you may recall that for a few years I've been remarking on how tired I was, or am, and may recall that I wrote that all down to just growing older, while a work load increases. Now I know that it was much more serious than that.
What this means, folks, for the short term, is that I must slow down, tend to myself, and get back to health. Thus, my blogging may and probably will be spotty for a few days and probably a few weeks. I will do so, as I can, and as I am able and have the energy. The same goes for vidchats. It is taking a great deal of energy to type even this short notice and thus I will have to post and schedule vidchats as I am able to do them, so please watch the schedule, and as always I will try to give you notice. These are likely to be along the lines of our normal prechat sessions until I am back at a strength reasonable enough to do our old formats. Similarly, I won't be able to do interviews on other shows as regularly as before, at least initially, until some strength is recovered. I certainly am not retiring, but I am having, over the course of the next weeks and months, to restructure much in my life.
Finally, there is someone else to thank, and that is my little dog Shiloh, whose excited barking and wagging tail brought tears to my eyes on my return home.
Thank you all again, for your prayers, good wishes, support, and patience with me in this time...
Many people are asking where they can donate. Lord knows I could certainly use the help, though I am loathe to ask... Catherine Fitts has already indicated that Solari is accepting donations, made to me, and that they will be forwarded.
Joseph P. Farrell