A banana a day makes the ticker O.K.

A banana a day makes the ticker O.K. by Bob Karolevitz For the second time in 1,095 consecutive weeks I am writing this column in hospital confinement.

I got here via the Emergency Room where my wife "insisted" that I go when I couldn't regulate a heart beat which had been out of whack for three or four days.

"There's too much to do here," I argued husbandly.

But she countered with an ultimatum I couldn't refuse � and before long I was in my son-in-law's four-wheel-drive vehicle for the eight-mile dash to the healing place.

I'd always been able to "convert" the tachycardia rhythms � but this time was different. Maybe age had something to do with it, but before I knew it, the ER people had hied me off in a wheel chair to a hospital bed.

Sure enough, they fitted me with a gown which frustrates all men because the tie strings are in the back.

They hooked me up with wires, too. I wanted to know if I could communicate with NASA's Land Rover on Mars, but they said my wires didn't reach that far.

The first thing the physician told me � after the blood test ��was that my potassium was low and that could have triggered the problem.

"See?" Doctor (without portfolio) Phyllis fairly shouted. "I've been telling you to take your potassium pills and eat bananas, and you don't hear me!"

Okay, that's one check mark in her favor, and now they are giving me a couple of horse-size capsules with every meal. (Remind me to listen to her now and then.)

Little by little my potassium level is approaching the normal range, but that isn't enough, though. The cardiologist has prescribed a beta blocker called Toprol-XL to help reduce the rapidity of my ticker.

He's going to keep me in the health factory for a couple more days so he can monitor the reaction. All those wires are good for something, it turns out. He doesn't want the heart beat to get so slow that I'll be pushing up daisies.

Our primary physician � an SDSU grad before he went to medical school � said my problem was probably a delayed reaction to Adam Vinatieri's Super Bowl-winning kick. It was facetious, of course.

On another subject, Phyllis was in the room when the priest arrived. After the usual greeting, he asked: "Do you want to be anointed?"

Well, my wife � who remembered when anointing was called the Last Rites or Extreme Unction ��blanched when she heard it. But the priest, recognizing her reaction, explained that it was now a healing sacrament, so he performed the ceremony with her blessing.

As I write this on borrowed paper, Phyllis is snow-bound on the farm, while I am in a nice, warm room. Looking out the window at the Doctor Zhivago landscape, I think of her plowing through the drifts to feed her animals. (Saint Francis of Assisi never had it so rough.)

Everyone has been so good to me here: the nurses, the aides, the housekeepers, the pokers and jabbers. I'm afraid I might get to like it!

However, as I stroll the halls (my doctor wants me to walk), I see lots of folks who are a lot worse off than I am. These people have my heartfelt wishes for alleviated pain and a speedy recovery.

Tomorrow I may go home, if Phyllis can Eskimo her way here to get me. I sure hope she can!

© 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz

Editor's note: We are glad to report that Bob is now home from the hospital and is doing well.

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