PooterGeek has long had a jokey button labelled “nice arse” over on the right hand side of its front page. It links to a picture of me running in an annual Cambridge charity relay race called “Chariots of Fire” last year. One of the other members of our particular Genome Campus team was a guy called Tony who works at the same institute as me; three years younger and much more serious about physical activity than I am, cycling and running like a nutter—the sort of guy who shaves his legs so the hairs don’t cause problems when he falls off his ultralightweight bike on his way in to work from another county. He was meant to be running in Chariots of Fire again this year, but he ballsed up by submitting the entry form (that I had completed for him) too late for the entry deadline.
Last Thursday Tony came back home, after running, and complained to his wife [first on the left] of chest pains. She said he looked grey. At 04:30 on Friday morning he went into theatre at Papworth Hospital. It turned out that he had a congenital defect that was causing one of the valves of his heart to leak. Ten hours of open heart surgery later they wheeled him out on a respirator with a new artificial valve in his chest, alive.
He probably made some heart surgeon’s weekend: an acute emergency in a young and superfit patient—no tiresome pillows of fat to cut through, much less of a risk of losing the poor bastard under anaesthetic, and an interesting little case to write up—someone said something about Tony being the only person of his age in the hospital to have been fitted with a valve like the one they have given him. His running around like a nutter probably extended his life by revealing the condition now; better this shock than Tony’s keeling over and dying at fifty as he mowed the lawn.
He should be able to lead a normal life from now on. I sent him a note today challenging him to a quick race over 2K when he gets out of hospital. He will have to have an annual CAT scan, but, apart from that, the only conspicuous long-term traces of the trauma will be a butch looking scar and the soft ticking noise his chest will continue to emit at all times.