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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mall walking, paying bills and other mundane recovery stories

By Ted Slowik

Hi, all! It's been nearly five weeks since my near-fatal heart attack. I'm feeling great and hope to resume routine activities soon. I'll need clearance from a doctor to return to work. I'm having a low-level stress test on March 24, and I'm hoping that goes well.

I'm not cleared for strenuous exercise, so I've been doing a lot of walking. On nice days I walk around our neighborhood, but when it's very cold and windy during this never-ending winter I go to the mall in Joliet. You see a lot of people walking around the mall about an hour before it opens.

The first thing you notice about mall walkers is that they leave their coats on benches while they walk around. At first these pieces of outer wear seem abandoned, like their owners were taken up by some rapture. Then you realize they belong to the mall walkers.

There are many types of mall walkers: young and old, fast and slow, men and women. Some are overweight, some are infirm. Some walk with headphones, others swing their arms. We all walk around the perimeter of the mall. It takes about 20 minutes for me to complete a route.

I much prefer walking the neighborhood. It was good running into John Condron yesterday! Most of the snow has melted but the lake near our house is still frozen. It would be best to get out onto a trail in nature somewhere, but I feel I should stick close to home. I'm still wearing a defibrillator, after all. I work up a sweat after about 20 minutes, and walk for about 45 minutes a time two or three times a day. I lost a bunch of weight right after the heart attack, but that's leveled off. I haven't gained any back, but I've stopped losing.

I'm not a big TV watcher, maybe an hour or two a day is all I can take. I read and listen to music. My guitar teacher Kev Wright gave me the complete remastered works of The Beatles on CD (UK versions), and that's been very enjoyable. Dave Kent loaned me Pete Townshend's autobiography "Who I Am" and when I finish that I'm looking forward to reading Tom Hernandez's "Chocolate Cows & Purple Cheese and Other Tales From the Homefront."

Other than that, I've been keeping up with doctor's appointments, paying bills and doing other routine things. The bill from the hospital came the other day. I had my heart attack in the ER the night of Feb. 17 and was discharged four days later. They charged $98,480.56. That's just the hospital, mind you. They deeply discount (70 percent) the amount charged to the insurance company, which ends up paying a lot less. I'll end up paying several thousands of dollars in deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, though no complaints. I received excellent care and have good insurance.

Still, if you wanted to support the recovery effort I encourage you to contribute $5.94 by enjoying a digital download of the debut studio collection "Comfort Zone." Just search for "Ted Slowik" in the iTunes Store, or find it on Amazon or CD Baby. Thanks for the support.

I've been practicing guitar and singing, and recording demos of songs. Most were written in the past year, but a couple are older numbers, and I haven't written any new songs since the heart attack. Still sorting through all that I suppose.

I've accepted invitations from two good friends to do a couple low-key performances in coming weeks, so I encourage you to stop by and say "Hi!" if you can make it. Just to show I haven't lost my sense of humor I'm billing the shows as the "Not Dead Yet Tour." The first is at 8:30 p.m. Friday, April 4, at Saban's Place in Hodgkins, playing a 30-minute opening set for Clarence Goodman as he celebrates the release of his CD "Don't Fret."

The second is from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, April 12, with Tim Placher at 30 Buck in Joliet. It's always fun joining Tim for his piano bar performances and hanging out with his many friends. I hope to see you soon!