Sunday 8 May

I haven’t typed a blog since the middle of January. To be honest at about that time I became aware of things going on in my body. One Wednesday I awoke to find by hair soaking wet. This was very unusual and thinking I might have Covid I tested myself but this was negative so I thought nothing of it. The following Saturday I was at work on the computer in my office when I noticed an extreme tightness in my chest. After a while it disappeared and I carried on with my day but determined to consult the doctor. On the Monday the doc assured me that the two events were cardiac-related symptoms. Weeks later, at the organ, my arms and hands went numb. One of the choir had spotted a retired cardiologist in the congregation and he took me aside and stayed with me. I returned home leaving a couple of Masses without organ support.

Then began a multitude of tests, or so it seemed. Blood work, EKGs, and stress tests all of which were inconclusive. Finally I was referred for an angiogram. The results were delivered to the cardiologist’s PA the following day but remained on her desk for more than two weeks. The PA was absent from work because of her child’s illness but nobody had thought to check her mail or computer. So last Wednesday I visited the cardiologist for a planned appointment. The nurse mentioned that my blood pressure was a little high. I replied that I’d been waiting for over an hour so what did she expect? The cardiologist revealed that the angiogram report had been found and had shown a significant chronic blockage to my right coronary artery. The cardiologist was embarrassed and admitted complete responsibility for not informing me sooner but was anxious to sort treatment soon. I had expected to fly to UK the following Wednesday so things became even more urgent. The next day the phones were buzzing and an appointment was made at the Pepin Heart Institute for a pre-op on Friday with the op being set for 1:30pm tomorrow Monday. I still do not know whether to postpone the trip to UK or not. That will all depend on the method chosen by the surgeon. If he chooses to catheterize via the groin then I won’t be able to lift much for 2 weeks and, since part of my purpose for the trip was to clear my house in Sheffield, that would be a problem!

Tampa is one of the world leaders for heart surgery and Pepin Institute is among the best that Tampa can offer. As I type I face the prospect of no alcohol for 24 hours and no food or drink after midnight.

It is good to be able to report all this now because an earlier blog would either have omitted something that was really on my mind or would have been pointless. It seems much better to report what you do know than what you do not.

Of course my activity has not just centred on my health. I’ve continued with the compositional discipline of setting one Sunday psalm per week. I’m now so far through the list of Sunday psalms that some weeks I’m able to adapt an earlier setting of the same psalm with different verses deployed. Today’s psalm was a first. Psalm 100 has the response ‘We are his people, the sheep of his flock’ so I chose to set the text to phrases from Bach’s ‘Sheep may safely graze’. Bach is probably rolling in his grave but it did seem to go down well.

I bought a grand piano! Ive been checking out showrooms in the area and finally settled on Dave’s Pianos in Tampa and surrounding area. I paid three visits to different sites where he had pianos stored. On the third he had prepared a blind tasting of some piano. He had removed or disguised name plates so that I could not be swayed in my selection. No 1 turned out to be a 70k Kawai grand the action of which was exquisite. But I was really surprised that what I placed second was a Chinese piano whereas I had been most interested in Yamaha grands! The Chinese nation buy loads of pianos but are embarrassed by the quality of their own manufacturers. Pearl River bought the advice and expertise of a major european technician/builder who trained the workforce to produce great quality pianos on a mass scale. They now build instruments for Steinway! My 6’1″ instrument came in at $17k and now occupies the space previous occupied by a dining table.

I have also been developing relations with the Music Department of the University of South Florida. Two cellists have given recitals in recent weeks and we also had a visit from the A Capella Group from Duke University who were fabulous.

An anonymous donor from the church offered to provide for a new hymnbook for the church. That was quite a process. I’m hoping the books will arrive sometime in June/July.

Easter was fantastic. The choir which always works hard, increased its commitment and with an extra ‘boot camp’ rehearsal (finishing with pizza!) we managed to provide for a great Triduum. I was exhausted after this so a week later I decided to take a trip to Destin in the Florida Panhandle. I had taken up one of those timeshare type promotions for 3 nights and 4 days. It would be a 6-7 hour drive and I hadn’t driven that far for ages so I left after midnight and took a high speed drive along the interstate. A little after Tallahassee I pulled over for some shut-eye. I awoke 70 minutes later and continued on towards Fort Walton Beach near Destin. The receptionist at The Wyndham Hotel invited me to take up my room 8 hours earlier than check-in so I was delighted. The view from my room was amazing with unbroken view of the Bay to the horizon. I walked the beach for a while and pretty soon it was deserted. There had been signs indicating the presence of a military base and entry to the dunes area was prohibited for the protection of natural species. I spent the first two days on the beach and it was just perfect. The 2 police officers approached me and issued a ticket for ‘trespassing on military property’. They said I was only permitted to be by the waters edge. As you might expect I challenged that there were no signs indicating such a request but this fell on deaf ears. I would have to pay a fine of $55 with an admin charge of $30. One officer mentioned that I would have to wait 30 days for the this ticket to get onto police computers. And I questioned that I was getting such terrible admin for $30 dollars. They laughed but I still got ticketed.

The following day I had to visit a ‘Wyndham vacation presentation’. For the first time, I felt that my circumstances made what they were offering quite attractive and I signed up. I’m sure that some friends will despair at this but the package works for me.

Since I arrived at Sacred Heart a year ago (May 1 2021) I have not used any of my vacation allowance and was able to bank some national holidays because I was working on those days. So this year I am in the enviable state of having 15 days from 2021 to spend in UK and also retain the allocation of a further 15 days for 2022. I’m thinking of trying out some of the islands off the south coast of America.

I still let rooms in my house to travelling medical professionals. This has worked well but one guy turned out to be a complete fraud and left owing $800. Oh, the stories he had to tell! I learned not to be so trusting.

As I finish this blog I am faced with not knowing whether to pack bags fro UK or not. By this time tomorrow, after the operation, I’ll have all the answers, I’m sure.

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