A selection of entries from the diary of a prominent hobbyist.
My "unending series of complaints" (to quote my wife) concerning my heart apparently has not remained without an issue. It is true, let me state this clearly and unambiguously, that in recent times I have suffered on a fairly regular basis from a series of cardiac problems. As I usually mentioned these problems as they manifested themselves, in typical circumstances like intense physical labour or in sexually demanding moments, my wife and my relatives tended to dismiss these complaints as mere attempts at seeking dispensation from these activities. These misunderstandings were unfortunate, although I can easily see why they arose.
But now the end of my problems may at last be in sight : on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of our wedding day my wife has given me a do-it-yourself kit for heart surgery. It is well known that I have solid experience with all kinds of do-it-yourself kits, acquired over years and years of unrelenting hobbyism, and I look forward to this newest challenge with ardent enthusiasm.
I have started reading the heart-surgery kit's manual now, and I must say this state-of-the-art material is absolutely fascinating. The possibilities offered by this kit appear to be virtually boundless! At first, do-it-yourself heart surgery looked like tricky business indeed, but as I delve deeper and deeper into the manual's intricacies I am growing increasingly convinced the answer to my cardiac problems is to be found here.
As a result, my relationship with my wife has been improving noticeably these last few days, even though my first stint of heart surgery is not yet a fact!
I have now finished reading the printed manual, which mostly deals with technical matters. The kit also contains a CD-ROM, which features a wealth of medical knowledge (it is almost an encyclopedia in itself) and loads of practical information about the use of the kit's utensils and parts. It will take hours and hours to work my way through these megabytes of marvellous wisdom, but the task I'm gearing up for is not one to be undertaken without proper preparation. This will take time - but it will be time well spent.
To my own utter amazement, I have found myself devoting less and less time to my diary, even to the point of skipping entire days. This has not happened in years, and it is a telling indication of how deeply I am absorbed in my current study and preparations which should culminate in a successful attempt at major heart surgery.
Let me give you an outline of what I am planning to achieve, based on my thorough perusal of the kit's manual and CD-ROM package.
I will build an artificial heart using the parts present in the kit, run all the tests to verify it is functioning perfectly, hook it up temporarily to my blood stream, run another series of tests, and will then remove my own faltering heart and replace it with the artificial one. This will be followed by a period of intense monitoring and observation, and possibly adjusting. I will, of course, have to take a few weeks off.
My hopes are high. This is the boldest challenge it has ever been my pleasure to rise to. I can't wait to begin work.
I will try to give a detailed account of the proceedings in my diary - if I do find the time for it!
The eagerly awaited moment has arrived : I have started work on the first phase of my big project, consisting of assembling the artificial heart, a job I am carrying out with a meticulousness of a level seldom achieved, even according to my high standards.
The support I received, and am still getting, from my wife, my relatives and my colleagues was "heart-warming" (pun intended) and highly stimulating.
While working I felt a little trepidation, and I had the distinct impression that, at times, my heartbeat was rather irregular. Can this simply be put down to nerves? Or is this another reminder that the time has come to whip out the old heart and install the new one?
Anyway, I have taken the first steps on this particular road, and I am determined to go all the way to the end now.
The entire series of tests, which I have been running for a day and a half now, is extremely satisfying. My artificial heart is performing brilliantly, taking into consideration the fact that it is still outside my body (I refer jokingly to my ribcage, where it should end up, as its "natural habitat") and is not yet hooked up to my bloodstream. But now I am more convinced than ever that success is within my reach.
The artificial heart has been hooked up to my bloodstream. I am about to enter a critical phase of this project. All tests have proven completely satisfactory. Tomorrow I intend to make the big leap. Let us hope this is not my final diary entry!
A few quick notes, although I should rest. The operation took over six hours. I did not lose consciousness once. This was the main risk, one that could have proven fatal. I have been extremely lucky. However, this was no mere coincidence : I was thoroughly prepared. More details later, as soon as my convalescence is well underway.
I am convalescing rather well, and feel like the happiest man in the world. I find it hard to believe that I ripped out my heart, threw in an artificial replacement and walked off as if I had merely changed my shirt. Of course, that is putting it schematically, and adding a light touch of irony... My wife, my relatives (and also my colleagues to whom I have delivered the good news on the phone) have all shown an enthusiasm rarely ever witnessed, and celebrations are being planned. I urged them to postpone the festivities, as my convalescence is an important phase of the operation and I would prefer to do the entire project strictly by the book. So I am taking it easy, making short strolls in the garden and enjoying the mild spring air, reading and watching TV, and jotting down these diary entries before I retire to bed.
These last few days it has become clear to me that this operation has led to success on more than a strictly physical level : there has been a notable psychological improvement, and my relationship with my wife has even seen an unprecedented upswing.
So I have enough reasons to call this project a rip-roaring success.
Once my convalescence is complete and the few lingering side-effects have disappeared, I will go back to work and lead a normal life again. I can hardly wait...
According to the manual, my convalescence should now be complete and there should be no more residual effects of the operation. Still, a few minor problems have not totally disappeared, and this worries me.
Fortunately, I am not experiencing any of the major troubles mentioned in the manual: no cardiac problems (obviously the most ominous problems involved, likely to invalidate the success of the operation), no rejection of the artificial organ, none of the symptoms labelled "serious" in the manual.
However, I am experiencing an intermittent and irritating headache (attacks coming about every hour, and lasting fifteen to twenty minutes), and erection-related problems, which arise every time my wife and I attempt to rekindle our sex life.
I have talked about the problem with my wife and my closest relatives, and they appear less worried than me. They seem to be of the opinion that the problems will disappear eventually, and that I need not worry. I consulted the manual and the CD-ROM time and again, but in this case they fail to offer any help. I will follow my wife's suggestion and wait until the problems disappear.
I am working again. My life has reverted to normal. My relationship with my wife is virtually perfect.
The headaches have diminished in intensity, but they still manifest themselves on a fairly regular basis. I am also still experiencing erection-related problems. As a result, I have not been able to resume a normal sex life. This appears to worry me more than my wife. She still expects the latter problem to disappear of its own accord - am I imagining things, or did she insinuate she would not mind all that much were the deficiency to remain?
My life has now fully resumed its regular course. We are currently making plans, still vague at this point, for my birthday (next month) and for our summer holiday. I would prefer the former to be a low-key event, and as for the latter, my wife has expressed a desire to do a tour of Mexico.
The two lingering side-effects of my do-it-yourself heart surgery show no signs of disappearing, or even diminishing. Every now and then I raise the subject to my wife, or to my son and my daughter-in-law, but nobody seems to have a remedy at hand, or even a suggestion towards one.
I had insisted on a low-key birthday party, and that was exactly what I got. Still, and more importantly, a good time was had by all, including me.
Maybe I should not have mentioned my two lingering problems with such insistence and frequency. I may have thought my family was not bothered by my problems, but now I know that I was wrong. My remarks clearly have not gone by unnoticed.
Two of the birthday presents I received were clearly attempts to remedy my oft-deplored ailments.
My wife gave me a do-it-yourself kit for brain surgery, a wonderful state-of-the-art package I will be happy to indulge in. Headaches, so I was told by more than one smiling or chuckling person, will soon be a thing of the past.
My daughter-in-law, on the other hand, gave me a do-it? yourself kit for "sex change and genital reconfiguration". There was a remarkable twinkling in her eyes as she told me that I would not only be able to rid myself of what must be a highly irritating problem, but that I would also have the chance to add a new dimension to my marriage, to explore avenues of joy and fulfilment hitherto undreamed of, and to reevaluate certain aspects of my life from a variety of fresh angles.
I have been absorbed all day in my manuals...