Singing Johnny Cash In The Cardiac Ward

SME Telephone Script

Singing Johnny Cash in the Cardiac Ward

A personal story about heart disease and music

No. of pages: 72
Size: 144x206mm
eBook: AUD$4.99
Paperback: AUD$9.95 plus delivery

“The trouble with heart disease is that the first symptom is often hard to deal with − sudden death.”
Dr Michael Phelps.

I should be brown bread. Translating that good Cockney rhyming slang, which has become part of the Australian vernacular, I should be dead. I say this because of my jam tart, my heart. Thanks to modern medical science I’m still here, and it’s been proved beyond all reasonable doubt that I have one, a heart that is. To use the football term, I’m in extra time. But instead of a few minutes, I’m talking about maybe three decades. I’m 54 years old.

On October 28, 2011, I had a six-and-a-half hour heart operation. It was actually two operations, one to replace my aortic valve with a mechanical valve and one to graph my aortic artery (the main trunk from the heart that connects all the arteries). If I did not have these jobs done I would have been a dead man walking, the victim of a coronary aneurysm and certain heart failure ten months later.

In writing this account I want to encourage people, especially men, to get their hearts checked out. There are many men who are not aware that they have a heart condition, let alone one that can kill them. There is a general reluctance among men to take our health issues seriously, not only in relation to the heart, but also other health issues that have a high fatality count, such as prostate cancer. As prostate cancer survivor and Hawthorn football legend Don Scott pointed out, men don’t take the same serious attitude to our health problems that women generally do.

There’s an additional part of my story, explaining the fantastic healing power of music. This isn’t just a recounting of my journey of the heart, but also the story of my relationship with music. That relationship goes back more than twenty five years, alongside my involvement in radio. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some great musicians over the years and a few have played a big role in my life.

This isn’t just a descriptive account of my experience with heart disease, it’s also a serious attempt to help reduce the large death toll caused by it.

John Tognolini

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