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Ashleigh Brilliant Ashleigh Brilliant
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Santa Barbara , CA
Thursday, January 02, 2014


Sept 5, 2013

Dear Friends,
I had hardly finished writing to you (on August 26) about the oldest piece of hardware in my body ­- a dental bridge which has been in place since 1967 ­- when suddenly and quite unexpectedly I found myself getting a brand-new piece, of a very different kind ­- one which, whether I come to love it or not, is already quite literally very close to my heart ­- a tiny platinum mesh cylinder called a STENT, which serves to keep blocked arteries open.

As a non-smoker, non-drinker, active exerciser, and fairly careful eater, and with no family history of any such trouble, I had little reason to consider myself a good cardiac candidate. And when a few weeks ago I began to experience feelings of weakness, and some internal tightness, e.g. when bicycling uphill, I thought the most likely cause must be something easily treatable like anemia, which I had had before (and was fixed then simply by taking Iron tablets). But there was one factor which, three months short of my 80th birthday, I had failed to consider: the simple fact of AGE. And when I finally told my doctor, Michael B. Fisher M.D., about this current trouble, he immediately arranged for me to see a Cardiologist (Dr. Thomas Watson) who in one session, after several tests (including a treadmill) told me he was convinced that I had some serious blockage, which must be acted on at once. And the very next morning, (Friday, August 30) almost before I could fully comprehend this new situation, there I was, at Santa Barbara?s Cottage Hospital, being operated on.

It was a ?non-invasive? kind of procedure, with no cutting, and not even any anesthesia ­- just some ?sedation,? -- so I was conscious the whole time. And somehow with the aid of computers and ?balloons,? that little stent was maneuvered into position, where it is now supposedly making itself at home in my left coronary artery. (Fortunately I apparently had no other blockages.) And after only one (albeit endless-seeming) night in the hospital, I was sent home.

Isn?t it amazing that a job so delicate and intricate can now be done in so little time!

But when it comes to my collection of medical hardware, let us not forget that since being hit by a car in January 2011, I have already been carrying around a much larger piece of metal, a ?plate? which was supposed to help repair my broken left leg. Strangely, however, that device itself soon ?broke,? and became useless. And although the leg eventually healed anyway, the plate is apparently fated to remain there permanently. My Orthopedist (Dr. William Dunbar), dismisses the contrivance as now mere ?jewelry.?

Of course I know there are other people with far more artificial parts than I have, and I?ve no desire to engage in any kind of competition. Many of you could no doubt put my own bionic record to shame. Nor do I mean to make light of this very serious and scientifically marvelous matter of changing and replacing body parts. It?s just that when your own body becomes the matter at issue, it all somehow acquires a different perspective.

And here?s another thing that happened in the course of these events to give me a different view of myself: -- While I was being processed at Dr. Watson?s office, I was asked for my weight and height. I knew my weight exactly, because I check it very frequently, completely naked, on a good scale. (The latest reading was 132 1/8 lb). But I hadn?t had my height taken in many years -- so I took this opportunity to ask to have it measured. Whenever I?d been asked before, I had always said ?5 ft. 9 ½ inches,? but that reading was so old that I couldn?t even remember just what point in my life it dated from.

So they did measure me, and to my great surprise, I was told I am now only 5 ft. 7inches! How could this be? I know that people sometimes get shorter as they age ­- But have I really lost 2 ½ inches? This is genuinely alarming, and conjures up uncomfortable images of ?The Incredible Shrinking Man.?

So in various ways, from artificial additions to natural shrinkage, it seems there is now less of the original "me" than there used to be. But yes, I know this is only the beginning of a process which our whole species is apparently embarked upon. And for the answers as to just where (if ever) it will end we currently have no better guide than the writers of Science Fiction.

In any case, as my body recovers from its latest metallic insertion, this message comes with greetings which I hope you can appreciate are unusually HEARTY.

All the best,
Ashleigh Brilliant

Santa Barbara, CA
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