Richard Siegel – A Poem About Heart Disease
Richard Siegel is a comedian, singer/songwriter, poet, producer, CEO of a charity and works with autistic children. Though his father was amongst the world's leading Gastroenterologist who had a library named after him at Hopkins, and his step-father invented the pacemaker, none of this could prevent genes and lifestyle to lead to 13 stents and Quintuple Bypass surgery. Richard is now speaking for the American Heart Association, has lost 50 lbs. and walks anywhere from 7-14 miles a day.
I am an artist, and there is some poetic injustice to the fact that my heart is so big and that's where my health issue lies. I am also a poet and as a poet i have to understand irony. My dad died at 45, and when I hit 46, I thought it was smooth sailing from here on out. At 46, my heart problems began, shortness of breath, 100% blockage, a 90% blockage and two 80% blockages.
I sure don't know but I got
The chance cause this little
Incision of the knife
So thank you loved ones you know
Who you are
I'm just a funny guy maybe a little bizarre
Who wants to bring
Joy to everyone I've found
Making the world a better place giving it a peaceful loving sound
I have a new chance and though I have to heal
A few months of a long
Life is not a big deal
But I will continue to take each seed of love and let it grow
And bring that with me everywhere I go.
This is where the story begins. Well, not really, this is where the new lease on life begins. This is where I got my new heart, kind of like the Tin Man. This is when at the age of 54, I had quintuple bypass surgery. Previously, I collected stents. It wasn't really a hobby, it was a way of life. I had an amazing mother and she gave all kinds of wonderful things. Unfortunately, she also gave me some genes that created coronary artery disease. Certainly, I had a part in this, bad diet for many years, stressful lifestyle, crazy wife, not enough exercise. But at a certain point, I changed all that. I got rid of the wife, began exercising 6 times a week, ate primarily fruits and vegetables and over a two year period, lost 50 lbs. But still my heart problems persisted.
So I was rushed off by ambulance to a hospital in Baltimore where, within a week, they put in 10 stents amongst those three arteries. Five years later I had a different symptom, a bizarre chest pain that kept recurring. I went to the Cardiologist and got checked into the hospital. They put in two more stents. I was going for the record. I figured if every four years, I got two stents, when I was 90, I would end up with 36, which would tie the world record. Without humor where would I be? I'm also a comedian.
I changed my life, ate mostly fruits and vegetables, learned how to eat and exercise. I now walk 7-14 miles a day. At the age of 55, I am now in the best shape of my life. I guess that's poetic too.
Tell us: Do you use the arts as an outlet?