Friday, January 10, 2014

The Voldyne 5000 Heart Surgery Poem

Tonight I'm thinking a great deal about how many days, or weeks, or even months or years I existed on the verge of death. How my aortic valve could have burst at any time. All those days when climbing a few stairs exhausted me. I wonder how starved my brain and lungs and internal organs must have been. 

Anyone who has had heart surgery knows what this apparatus is. The Voldyne 5000 Volumetric Exerciser. You're issued one of these before your surgery and told to start hitting it hard. When I got mine my lung capacity was about 2500 mL. After surgery you learn to hit this thing like your recovery depended on it. Your lungs collapse during surgery, and are filled with something like oatmeal. You have to get it out, and it hurts. In my hospital bed I used this thing obsessively.

Today I picked it up off the shelf and gave it a try just for fun, and my lung capacity has almost doubled. Hopefully I have a long time left to test the limits of my endurance. I wrote this poem about my artificial heart valve last night. They tell you over and over you'll get used to it. I haven't yet.

What Makes Me Tick

From conticinium
To Fourth Watch
My St. Jude 27 vavgj-515
Mechanical aortic valve
Thuds like a war bird's wings
In a hummingbird feeder.

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