To all the ships at sea, a dear friend of mine several decades back used to joke that I had a black cloud over my head. To be frank and to the point, I thought that was a lot of bullshit. On one level I’m the most optimistic person in the world, there are times that I can also be very negative and that is totally unacceptable. I went to a great party celebrating the summer solstice. I had a glass of white wine, which I normally don’t drink, and five glasses of club soda. I went home and got up at 3:45 because nature was calling. I felt somebody had hit me in the temple with a 2×4. I didn’t hit the ground, but I hit the wall. Didn’t think much of it, the next day I got up, had some green tea and went off to the gym. I got to the light, put on my directional and to my left was the gym and to my right was New Jersey Newton Memorial hospital. With the left directional on I made a right. I checked into the hospital. If I told you the truth on how long I waited to see a doctor, there is no doubt in my mind, that you would call me a blank blank liar. Let’s put it this way, I did not have breakfast, lunch, or dinner that day. I went to the head nurse and told her I was out of here, and she said wait one minute. The doctor showed up, they ran a few tests and the nurse told me I was staying.
I got up the next morning, took 8 or 9 tests, the last one was a stress test. The nurse said “you don’t have to get on the treadmill we will just inject you to raise and lower your heart rate.” I told them I wanted the treadmill. After a mild argument she said, “can you do 30 second on the treadmill?” at the end of 30 seconds she said, “can you do 2 minutes?” Then she asked “can you do another 3?” at the end of roughly 11 minutes she called the doctor and said, “this guy got a 98 out of 100!” back for another nuke test figuring I’m going home. Dr. Buyer comes into my room and the first thing he says is, “thank you so much for that magnificent Pete Seeger photograph, it’s over my desk.” I had no idea what he was talking about. He said he found a couple of problems and asked when the last time I ate. I went into the O.R. twenty minutes later, and they did a procedure. The Dr. said, “we cannot continue, we are going to have to send you to Morristown Medical Center, which is a great cardiology Hospital.” While waiting for the ambulance my blood pressure was off the chart. The nurse asked if I ever had nitro-glycerin, I said, “off the record I’ve blown up a few things but never in my body.” She told me to put the nitro-glycerin under my tongue. Then she turned around and starting talking to another nurse. When she turned back around she looked at me and screamed. She called for a doctor and the next thing I knew they had an extremely large chrome vessel which they inserted into my IV. By that time there were four or five people around me and sighs of relief. I asked the nurse what happened and she said, “your blood pressure dropped to almost nothing and your body went gray.” I said, “18%?”, and she pointed to her blouse and said, “this color.” That wasn’t good.
I got to Morristown Medical Center and went directly into the O.R. My doctors name was Phillippe Genereux and was French Canadian. I asked him if he liked hockey and we had this great conversation about the NHL in Montreal. The most difficult thing, and you have to love doctors, they said, “you’re going to be on your back for 4 hours.” at the end of 4 hours I asked to get up and they said, “you’ll have to go another 5 hours.” At the end of the procedure it was 14 hours. While talking to one of the nurses she mentioned photography and I told her about my book and she went zoom, zing with her finger and she said, “I just bought it.” Just three swipes with a finger on the screen, hell it would take me a half hour. I told them I couldn’t take anymore because of the pain on my back and neck, so they injected me with Fentanyl, that did nothing for the pain so they gave me 2 Percocets and it still did nothing for the pain. I asked them to put some restraints on my body because I wanted to get up so bad. A couple of days later I was home. Thats my story and I’m sticking to it!
I’d like to thank all the doctors and nurses in both hospitals, especially Dr Zainab A Mirza, Dr Peter Roytman, Dr Phillippe Genereux, and Dr Buyer. While I’m at it, I’d like to thank everyone that sent me notes and messages on instagram, facebook, emails, messenger, etc. Lots of old friends, new friends, and a couple of presidents (in the photographic department). I must owe a lot of people money. Time to buy a lotto ticket. Got lucky again!