A funny thing happened to me on the way to the stent club. I was refused membership. And didn’t even get to choose the soundtrack.

Since my entire last column was about my impending procedure to get a stent placed in my heart where blockage built up, I guess I should set the record straight and let y’all know that, like so many things in life, it didn’t go as planned.

Once in, my doctor decided there was too much muck for a little old stent to handle. I believe him. He had cameras in there, searchlights and mirrors and little men with rulers. We all would have preferred to stick that stent in, blow up the little balloon and get the hell out, happily ever after. But reality reared its ugly head. I knew when the whole thing was over in 15 minutes that it was not a good sign.

Last angiogram, last March, I chose the Merle Haggard playlist. This time I told them to let the doc choose. I wanted him to be happy. We didn’t discuss it, but apparently he picked the classic rock, a nice mix with no bad choices that I dug. One song brought a smile to my lips: “Highway to Hell” is a great song but inappropriately funny when you’re laying there with someone pushing catheters around in your heart.

So now the solution is real deal, cut ‘em open surgery. Double bypass. No chance now that the last thing I hear would be the sound of my little stent collapsing. No sir, I’m getting brand new plumbing, guaranteed for … life?

You have to have some gallows humor. A few people have called me brave, and I usually just say thanks, but sometimes I add, “Brave schmave,” what choice do I have?

I can be limited to walking (not too fast, not up hills) for the rest of my abbreviated life, or I can spend a lot more years wrestling alligators, leading Marine boot camps, swimming to Cuba and playing some one-on-one hoops with my buddies. Perfect timing: I have a chance this year to be better than the Lakers.

Bypass surgery is no longer a big deal. My neighbor told me his friend in France was reassured by his surgeon that the procedure was “banal.” (It’s a French word, so he should know.) My surgeon said there is a 95-98 percent success rate. I’ll take those odds in Vegas any day. I’ve heard from friends about all the people they know who have gone through it, and really did get back to basketball afterwards. That’s all I want. If I can do that, I can do whatever I want, which usually falls short of alligators, Cuba and such.

But I still wish they had let me into the stent club. You’re awake but sufficiently drugged for that procedure, you walk away a few hours later and that’s it. You could be on a court within a week. Bypass should leave the heart in great shape, but it’s the healing of the sternum they have to break to get in there that’s the devil.

Ouch, yeah, everybody cringes at that visual. But imagine how I feel, it’s my sternum. (Then there’s my resultant long chest scar, good for next Halloween.) The restrictions on movement for six to 10 weeks are really tough. No driving, of course, and it’s not like I can hop on my bike or take a 2-mile walk either. No reaching, twisting, raising my arms, hearty belches or bodacious farts, and lifting anything heavier than a milk container.

Good thing I recorded that “Twilight Zone” marathon recently. (But I won’t get Netflix, mostly because I believe in supporting Vidiots, our local amazing video store that has managed to hang on because of their outstanding selection and hip and savvy film ethos.) I’ve begun picking out all those books I acquired but haven’t read yet, and friends have been offering more. And I suppose all excuses for not writing the great American novel are now null, not to mention void.

I wanted to cruise through this convalescence, but it looks like I’ll be swamped. Hold my calls. Nov. 7 is the date. And that’s quite enough about hearts. I need some good old rock ‘n’ roll to take my mind off of it. Maybe “Magic Man”…


Welcome to Santa Monica!


I hate to admit it, but my wife does have a good idea occasionally. Definitely had one 28 years ago Saturday, marrying me. But now she’s got another one, and since I agree, I’m going to pass it along.

Who’s in charge of grounds keeping for the area you see as you take the 10 Freeway exit to Lincoln, and to a lesser degree to Fourth/Fifth Street? Is it the city of Santa Monica, state, or that big, bad federal government?

Somebody’s been blowing it for as long as I’ve lived here. And somebody in Santa Monica government should see if they can get something done, no matter whose territory it is.

For most visitors to our fair town, they’re going to take one of those two exits to reach our beaches, pier, Downtown, museums, libraries, parks, Farmers’ Markets and cultural events.

Welcome to Santa Monica! How do you like your very first impression? Take a look to your left. Sorry about the trash and ugliness that seems to have collected against the fences forever, the lack of landscaping, the obvious neglect. Oh, I guess we’re not sorry, we’re clearly OK with leaving it that way for decades.

If you are interested in Santa Monica’s many pressing issues, a good place to see it discussed is the Santa Monica Government, Politics, Policies and People Facebook page. You’ll find current and past (and future) politicos weighing in on vital issues, as well as thoughtful essays.

But if you really want the best and the latest, go to our own Viewpoints webcast, available at the SMDP website where you can see these same concerned citizens and policy makers and others discuss medical marijuana dispensaries in Santa Monica, traffic, height and density issues, and the Bergamot area development plan. Coming up, discussions about our schools, and whatever else is current and pressing.


Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 27 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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