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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Recovery from a Heart Operation

The first two weeks home were very uncomfortable. It wasn't like the hospital where the bed could be set to your sleeping convenience. Below my heart, the ribcage gave me so much pain whenever I tried to lay flat on my back. Lu Lu had to elevate my leg and put pillows behind my back so that I could sleep in a sitting position. It took a little while for the ribcage to heal. During the day I did some walking and light exercise. I tried to stretch my arms up into the air which was very painful in the beginning. After two weeks I slowly started to walk up and down the steps in the apartment hall. Every step I took was very painful, but in my mind I kept saying I don't like to have a crippled leg. After three weeks I was doing much better, but it was still not easy for me to walk. My leg was giving me a fit and it was very painful but I needed to go to the doctor's office for my first check-up. A friend of mine drove me to his office in Fairfax, Virginia. It was a long walk from the parking lot to his office, but I made it. Once I was inside the doctor's office I kept looking around and was very impressed by his modern office facilities and the staff of secretaries. The secretaries all looked like he had picked them out of a beauty contest. There were many patients in his office. When it was my turn to be checked, a nurse called my name and told me to follow her into the doctor's patient room. As I was taking my clothes off the doctor came in and asked me how I felt. I told him about my discomforts in my chest and leg. He said not to worry about that as all of that would disappear in a few more weeks. After he put his stethoscope to my chest and checked my heart, he said that everything sounded OK and that I could go home. All together I must have been not long longer than five minutes in his office.

Triple bypass operation

After my friend took me home and I was resting on my bed, I thought about the medical profession and how it had changed over the years. Most of the doctors in surgery never get to really know their patients. Once the patient is in the hospital he doesn't even get the time to fully recuperate because most of them are discharged before their healing time. Insurances and certain government regulations have put so much pressure on the doctors that they had to find ways to make their money in a different way. Most hospital surgeons have incorporated with other doctors together, and it has become a regular business with monthly expense accounts. The overhead some of those doctors have is tremendous – fancy cars, offices, the house they have and the neighborhoods they have to live in. It's the society we live in that has made it that way and we patients are paying for it. I am sure that many of the open heart surgeries which are done daily are unnecessary. Many patients who are operated on could be treated differently than with surgery. I had three heart attacks and each time I was in the hospital, but I always felt like I was just a name and an account number and many different medical companies were making money off of my body. The bills you receive from so many doctors makes you feel that way. As many of the doctors today become involved in a corporate practice and a certain amount of money has to be made, doctors become robots in our society like the rest of us and sometimes do their work without any consciousness. There are doctors who are down-to-earth and sincere to their patients. Even if they don't like the system they work in, they still have to go along in what this society has created for them.

Many students today go to medical school not with the idea to be a help in their profession for humanitarian reasons, but to get many worldly possessions after they graduate. And in the world we are living today, for some people there is never enough of this. The saying is, become a doctor and you will make a lot of money. It is sad to say that many young people study for their medical degree with this idea and not to use their gifts to do a sincere service for the people.

In the two years I was struggling with my heart attacks and was in and out of the hospital I learned so much about heart patients. I read every available book or magazine to get up-to-date about what causes heart attacks. I exercised daily, took long walks and lived on a strict diet. As nicely as I recuperated from my triple bypass operation I just didn't feel the same as before. During my recuperation I had many friends visiting and giving my all kinds of pep talks. I tried very hard to be the old Jeff again but my body kept telling me different. Whatever I tired to do, I tired so quickly, and every day I had to take a rest during the day. I knew I had to start a new lifestyle, which I knew wouldn't be very easy. I received regular check-ups and my doctor kept me informed about all the medical information about my heart. I knew that I would be a heart patient for life and had to look for other interesting things to do.

CONTINUED: Visit from Harold Courlander
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index