Mi Paranoia es Tu Paranoia or, A Response to a Facebook Post

Thirty years ago, more or less, I took a seminar in college on Thomas Pynchon: The Crying of Lot 49 for the warm-up and Gravity’s Rainbow for the rest of the semester. The professor teaching was a brilliant, goofy Virginian that everyone thought, as impressionable young students often do at other colleges of their Pynchon professors, that our man was him. It’s ludicrous, of course. But it was stoked even further when said professor went on sabbatical “to tour the South” and a few years later Mason & Dixon was published.

Some hangers-on still cling to the notion that our old professor was Pynchon lampooning as a Virginian with a PhD. I like to imagine that even Thomas Pynchon has his limits.

Anyway, I have since gone back to Lot 49 and GR several times over the years, and all his other books save Slow Learner in its entirety. My favorite is probably Against the Day. Vineland had its moments. Oddly enough, I didn’t enjoy Inherent Vice as much as I should have. Bleeding Edge had its moments too, especially the passage about people eventually submitting to surveillance:

“Dick Tracy’s wrist radio? it’ll be everywhere, the rubes’ll all be begging to wear one,” decries Ernie, “handcuffs of the future.”

I wouldn’t be so flippant as to say Pynchon’s an acquired taste. Good literature as we all know has more to it than that. But if you’re like me and you memorize license plates of cars that pass your house more than twice in one day it’s nice to know someone out there knows, as William Burroughs once pointed out in reference to paranoia, a little about what’s going on.

Bad Etiquette: Threatening to Kill the Guy Who Saved Your Life

Since October, I’ve been experiencing chest pains. Actually, they started in July and then subsided after an emergency room visit. The prognosis (read: misdiagnosis) was that I was allergic to an acid reflux medicine I was taking at the time.

Fast forward to early December and it was suggested, following various tests, that I receive a stent. The latest diagnosis: coronary artery disease.

Last Thursday, I went in for the procedure. It was determined that I needed not one stent but three. The artery in question was the left main off the aorta, severe blockage at the beginning of this artery is often referred to as a “widow maker.”

I ended up with two out of three stents for the left main artery and two adjoining branches leading directly to the heart. One of the branching blood vessels collapsed during the procedure which led to a heart attack while I was on the table. I was awake through the whole thing. The pain was the worst I’ve ever experienced.

At some point, between barking orders for this drug and that drug to be administered to me, the interventional cardiologist told me, “Stay with me, Mr. O’Brien.”

With typical aplomb, I grunted, “I’m going to fucking kill you!”

Somehow, amidst the chaos all around me, which included weird lights and shimmering in my peripheral vision akin to The Matrix breaking down or the rustling of angel wings, I got it in my head that my heart attack was the doctor’s fault, rather than genetics coupled with the alcoholic and culinary sins of my past.

I don’t remember much after that, not until right around when they started wheeling me to the intensive care unit.

Obviously, the doctor and his team saved me. I was told that two percent of people who go through this particular procedure suffer a heart attack during it. Evidently, blood vessels often do collapse as the corrective measure is performed.

Anyway, I was discharged on Saturday. Currently, I am resting, doing some reading, and binge-watching The Expanse.

I did try to work on a new novel I started some weeks ago, but it felt too much like work, so I am taking a few days off.

I apologized to my interventional cardiologist for threatening to kill him, by the way. I sense I wasn’t the first; I guess I certainly won’t be the last. Even so, it’s bad etiquette to threaten to kill the guy who saved your life.