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03 August 2015


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William R. Cumming

AOK here and 73 years young at 5:30 P.M. today [August 4th]! Hard to believe.


Col. sir,

Pls. send my regards to Basilisk.

I don't recall hearing from him & I can't seem to be able to reach him via email either...

With that, I bid you, Mr. William Cumming, Mr. Richard Sale, Dr. Brenner, Mr. Alan Farrell (forgot his rank in the military...) as well as Brig. F.B. Ali,

Longevity & Good Health.

r whitman

Happy birthday, youngster


Happy Birthday William! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJiROpmvgiI

FB Ali

Thank you for the good wishes!

Pete Deer

I am, in fact, given the circumstances, doing pretty darn good.

Let me give you a little background story here…
I have been, for the most part, a pretty healthy, active guy. This happened despite a number of wild and crazy episodes that I have engaged in over the years that, had life been fair and I would have received what I truly deserved, were exploits that really should have gotten me dead or in jail.

This is not mere hyperbole: this is just a simple fact.

However, a few years back I went through a very painful re-examination of my life, the cause of which is not important but nevertheless left me in a state of severe emotional and spiritual despair, the likes of which I hope none of you ever have to go through. Ultimately, I was left with a choice: I could continue things as they were going and be a miserable person full of self pity and resentment. Or I could do something different, and have the kind of life that brings me joy and meaning and allows me to be of service to the wider human family that I share this planet with. A big chunk of that re-examination required me to seriously take a look at myself and what was really important to me. This required me to give up some bad habits that were no longer working, and to adopt a new way of life. It's not an exaggeration to state that it was a matter of life and death. And I chose to live.
Part of that change required adopting an intentionally healthy life style, and I ended up becoming a total gym rat. For the past 3 plus years, I've been spending about 2 hours a day, 6 days a week haunting the local gymnasia, running, swimming and lifting weights like a total fiend. I had the great opportunity of having a former competitive body builder for a workout partner, and she has been a real motivation. So, as a result of all of this, I lost 30 pounds, built up a lot of muscle, dropped my cholesterol and in general feel and look a lot better than I have in a long time.
Fast forward to last couple of weeks ago.
There I was, minding my own business and doing my usual morning routine before work (cardio for 3 miles followed by an hour of strength training) when I had a sudden onset of severe, substernal, crushing chest pain. It was a very unpleasant experience. So, I sat down on a weight bench and rested for a few moments, and as the pain started to ebb, my first thought was "Oh, no big deal, it's already getting better. Perhaps I should just bag cardio and go right into a set with the bench press. 150 pounds out to be a nice warm up."
Now, I know what you are saying to yourself: "But Pete, you are a highly trained medical professional! How could you possibly be so dense as to think you were not having something seriously wrong with your heart?" Well, actually, I am pretty dense, in fact I think my brain is about as dense as depleted uranium, that stuff they use in anti-tank ammunition to make swiss cheese of 30 inches of armor plating. Dense, as in moronic, thick, dull, subnormal, feebleminded, obtuse, cretinous, a blockhead...you get the idea. "Denial is not just a river in Egypt," if you know what I mean.
So, for reasons that remain a complete mystery to me, I decided that perhaps doing a super set of chest and shoulders would not be a good idea after all, and instead very calmly walked downstairs, showered, changed, jumped on my scooter and rode over to the local Big Deal Medical Center Since I had to be at work at 10 AM anyway, I figured I would have just enough time to be seen in the ER, have them pronounce me a malingering slacker looking for a work note and kick me out to start yet another shift as critical care RN.
I was mistaken.
As soon as they got my EKG I could see significant changes in several leads, and the attending physician, a comrade I had worked closely with from my days in ED years ago, wasted no time in calling for a stat cardiology consult. My elevated Troponin ( a chemical biomarker that is elevated when there is heart is starved of oxygen) only sealed the deal, and my trip to the cath lab was a foregone conclusion. I recognized the interventional cardiology attending from a lecture he had given during a critical care seminar I had attended some months back, and though I was well sedated for the procedure, I was watching the monitor as he injected the contrast dye into my heart. We both saw at pretty much the same time the blockage in the LAD and circumflex arteries. I said something along the lines of "Well, that's a bite in the ass." He was much more professional about it. There were just too many lesions to stent and he said "Brother, I'm afraid you are going to need surgery."

I was subsequently admitted to a telemetry floor and a date for a cardiac bypass surgery was set for the following Monday. Fortunately, I had no further episodes of chest pain and my million dollar workup (vascular studies, CAT scan of chest, pulmonary function) were all stellar. Monday I rolled into the OR and several hours later I woke up in the ICU, intubated, on ventilator with one the intensivists I work with staring me In the face, asking “Do you want the thing out of your throat” (that thing being the endotracheal tube). I vigorously nodded yes and he subsequently pulled that vile thing, which began the long, laborious process of pulling more tube and catheters over the next 24 hours.

The nurses were all absolute angels. I could not have asked for better care.

Ultimately, I was discharged last Friday, and have been recovering at my mom’s place in Orange (literally around the corner from the Wilderness battlefield). I consider myself very fortunate to have brothers and sisters who have been helping me out during the first week. This incision on my chest can be quite painful at times, and most mornings I lurch out of bed like Frankenstein’s monster after a 5 day bender in Jaurez, but the pain is starting to ebb some with each passing day. I am managing to walk a couple of miles a day (one in the morn and a second in the evening), which is far below my usual daily of 3 miles followed by weight training, but considering that it was just a little over a weak ago I had a couple surgeons wrist deep into my chest, I should cut myself some slack.
Pat, the main thing I want to emphasize to the members of this committee is no matter how healthy you think you are, if you chest pain, get it checked out!. Though I am personally a pretty healthy guy, I have a strong family history of heart disease, as my father, uncle and grandfather all keeled over from heart attacks in their 50’s. Genetics can be a real bitch sometimes.

Thank you very much for asking. I hope all here also well.

Pete Deer



We thank you for your survival and for this lesson which we all need. as an example of the unfairness of life, I went in yesterday for a sono-cardiogram and the fellow who did it said I have the cardiovascular system of someone in good health in his forties. I despise exercise and always did even when in SF. I need a drink. Once again, welcome back friend. pl


Welcome back, Pete. Wish you had not had to have your chest cracked open but very glad you are with us.

Had my LAD and Circumflex stented in 2008. The eluting coating on the stents made my forehead break out in a rash.

Got a twinge in 2010, had a fight with my internist, who insisted, as he had in 2008, that nothing was wrong. I had another stent put in my LAD. The cardio who did both stent sessions was going to chew my ass off for the second intervention until he saw my lipid panel numbers, which were perfect. He told me I was an 'interesting patient'. I told him that I wasn't bleeping interested in being interesting and he laughed pretty hard. Like the guy.

And, still got a rash on my forehead from the second stent. Sheesh.

The Twisted Genius


Glad you pulled through. I started to worry when you didn't respond to Pat's inquiry until this evening. You must have been out doing one of your mile walks. Heart surgery is pretty damned advanced now. One of my younger brothers was born with a narrowing of his aorta and a hole in his heart. He had to wait years for surgery and it was still experimental at the time. His surgical scars consisted of a major railroad track down the center of his chest and a second track from the middle of his chest around his left side to the middle of his back. He went on to Paul Smiths College and became a lumberjack in his own forestry company in Connecticut.

I share Colonel Lang's despise of exercise. My father did, too. He's 86 now and only stopped fishing last year because he can't easily carry his canoe down to the river and launch it by himself anymore. He can still stack a cord (yes a full cord) of firewood in a day, but we're trying to break him of that. My totally unsolicited advice is to lay off being a gym rat, beyond physical therapy, and just enjoy an active life.

Vaclav Linek

PD, wishing you a successful and uneventful rehabilitation. Sounds like you are making good progress with the walking. I know a guy who had a 3xCABG at 46, was a good athlete in his youth, but at 45 could barely jog a mile at an agonizingly slow pace (his father also died of an MI in early 50s).
13 months after surgery, this guy ran a half marathon in 2:07! So the recovery after these
things can be quite spectacular in some cases. Best wishes,

Vaclav Linek


Pete Deer
Hope you have a speedy and successful recovery.
I good friend just went through a similar episode.
Felt the chest pains and it passed. Thought he better
go to the ER. They were going to release him but
one of the attending physicians said he should do
the dye test. Had blockage in all four arteries. Had he
gone home told him he had a 93% chance of a fatal
attack. Your advice should be heeded by all.


Peter Deer

Glad to hear you're on the mend. Just don't try to do too much--like this fellow


Pete Deer

"I need a drink."
And indeed you have, and while you're at it please have one for me as well. While I'm abstinent these days, it doesn't mean I can't enjoy my pleasures vicariously. Scotch and soda ( Glenfiddich, to be exact) was my preferred potion. Prosit!


Pete Deer

I have enjoyed your commentary and learned from some of the perspectives you've shared in this forum, along with many others, and while that is sound advice, I actually quite enjoy my daily trips to the gym. I know some day I won't be able to continue that pace, but I really think it is one of the things that has enhanced my life and even left me much better prepared to deal with my recovery.



Glad you made it and I wish you speedy recovery.

I saw my dad recovering after his first heartattack (he succumbed to a second one a decade later), and to the limited extent I can give advice, it would be that you shouldn't allow yourself to be scared out of enjoying some good things in life here and there within reason, and I don't mean the Glenfiddich with Soda.

I write that because they scared the bejeezus out my father in rehab after surgery about what to eat and what not to eat. I don't know what they are telling folks now but I'll never forget the miserable look in his eyes when we served him his boiled egg on Sundays: 'You want to kill me?'

The Twisted Genius

Well, in that case, Pete, enjoy the gym. Being fit definitely will make your recovery faster and easier. But come on, level with us. You also miss impressing the fit young chicks with your workouts at the gym. ; )


Speedy recovery, Peter. God speed.

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