My friends, I have so much to be thankful for that I can hardly begin to list them. Thank you God. Thank you Mary, my wonderful wife. Thank you to all of my family members. Thank you, my country and those who serve it. And thank you, my friends - new and old. And this year, I wish to thank all of the health professionals who did their best to see that I have a chance to once again enjoy good health. Now, I am not saying that I was particularly pleased with everything that they did. I awoke after an 8-1/2 hour heart surgery to discover that they did not think that I had enough natural openings to run all of the tubes and wires into (and out of), so they had apparently used an ice pick and a 3/8" drill bit to customize my hull; 4 different chest drain tubes, a catheter, 5 or 6 various I.V. lines, temporary pacemaker wires to my heart (just in case), ventilator tubes in my nose and throat, slices in my groin, knee, and ankle where they pulled a vein for bypasses, another slice from my wrist to my elbow to get more veins to use, and of course, the 10" split up the center of my keel so they could get at the "heart" of the matter! Good thing I wasn't anywhere near the river. I would have sunk faster than my boat!! All I could think of was the cartoon where the guy drinks the glass of water and it squirts out every direction. I pretty much look and feel like Ive been hooked, gaffed, fizzed, and put on a stringer. Now, in order to hold all of this "stuff" in place, and to keep my inside from leaking all over my outside, they covered me with their medical-grade duct tape - the kind that cannot be removed without pulling a significant patch of hide off with it and bringing serious tears to your eyes. On most of the duct tape they used felt-tipped markers to write what I assume were re-assembly instructions and expiration dates, but I couldn't read them. Also attached to the very few remaining square inches of otherwise unused skin were approximately 12 or 15 self-adhesive (NOT self-releasing!) electrodes for the EKG. This was especially important since it told the nurses just when you finally found a comfortable position and fell asleep, so they could come in and wake you to take blood or give you pills, or do one of a thousand other nasty things to you. Mary tells me that I had one VERY bad night/morning where I apparently reacted to the sedatives/meds and was convinced that they were doing experiments. I threw two different nurses (including the really cute one) out of the room, was extremely nasty, and wouldn't let anybody do anything until Mary got there, because she was the only one I trusted. They called her at home to ask her to come down right away. I guess she calmed me down and they changed the meds, because that was the only bad episode (other than when I saw the picture Spurhunter had posted on the internet net of me right after the surgery, and that episode's not over yet!). After about a week, they decided that my heart wasnt beating right and wouldnt self-correct, so they took me back in to implant a pacemaker/cardioverter/defibrillator with high-definition side-scan sonar, fish ID, and GPS mapping. It records and corrects any cardiac events, and has wireless radio frequency capabilities to download the info to the doctor even over the phone! Pretty neat! I wonder how long it will take this technology to trickle down to Humminbird? They ought to be able to tell us the species, length, weight, aggressiveness, - even if a fish has a full belly! Most of the IV and drain tubes were removed as I healed, but the one I was most looking forward to getting rid of was the catheter. I felt kind of like a dog on a chain when you hit the end of the slack, you come to an abrupt, and somewhat painful, halt. It was often an adventure moving from the bed to the chair and back, and even changing positions in bed. Somehow, the tubes would get trapped under me or wound up around some piece of equipment and I would have to stand there in extremely strange positions while I tried to untangle my leash. I went through a bunch of tissues drying tears and wiping snot after many of these adventures. Its been a month now since the surgery, and Ive been home about two weeks. I wound up with 3 new bypasses, repair work on two heart valves, a bunch of laser work to try to create new blood vessels to feed the heart muscle, and the implanted pacemaker/cardioverter/defibrillator. Ive lost some weight, as evidenced by my man-boobs no longer being perky but instead beginning to sag, and the hair that was so rudely scraped off of me is now exactly the perfect length to stick straight out from my body through my clothes and causes me to look and feel like a barrel cactus with a tee-shirt stretched over it. All in all, as tough as the experience really was, I am EXTREMELY thankful for all that I have and for the opportunities that I have been afforded. They say that attitude has a great deal to do with ones health and healing, and I am determined to keep my attitude as good as possible through this entire healing process. With my somewhat off-center attitudes and views of the world, it shouldnt be too tough of a job! Happy Thanksgiving !!!