WASHINGTON (GlossyNews) — On February 24, 2010, former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was released from the hospital, three days after suffering his fifth heart attack. A spokesman said that the 69-year-old Cheney, known as “Angler” to his friends, will resume his normal schedule soon. The announcement filled those close to the family with an ironic mixture of relief and dread. “I’m glad he’s won another game of chess with the Reaper,” one friend said, “but if he’s resuming his normal schedule, we’ll soon be receiving invitations to ‘tie one on,’ pick up hitchhikers and go dove hunting; or what Dick likes to call Tuesdays.”
Cheney has a colorful history of health problems. Like many Americans of his era, Cheney was a longtime smoker before quitting in 1978, after his first heart attack. Six years later in 1984, he underwent open-heart surgery to bypass blockages in four coronary arteries.
He suffered his fourth heart attack two weeks after the 2000 election. After receiving news of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Gore v. Bush, Cheney allegedly quipped, “It fucking worked?” and then complained of acute pain in his chest and shoulders.
In addition to chronic heart disease, Cheney has endured problems with his leg arteries, indicating the presence of atherosclerosis. He also has gout, which can be related to obesity. Having subsisted on a diet of lamb placentas, charcoal and children’s tears, Cheney’s diet is a contributing factor to his gout, nutritionists say.
In July 2007, doctors implanted a new cardioverter defibrillator to monitor Cheney’s heart and shock it back into a normal rhythm should abnormal beating occur. The battery for the original device, installed in 2001, had finally eroded. Millions of Americans sued those doctors for violating the “do no harm” clause of the Hippocratic Oath.
One year later, despite his new hardware, Mr. Cheney arrived via wheelchair to President Obama’s inaugural ceremonies, demonstrating that he was, quite literally, hell on wheels. It was later revealed that the former iron fist of the Bush administration had sprained one of his last remaining organic muscles attempting to lift a Ryder moving box.
“In fairness,” said family spokeswoman Gretchen Rethmull, “all those phone records, torture memos, ignored warnings of bin Laden’s terrorist attacks and fabricated WMD intelligence reports just have to weigh tons. I don’t think I could’ve picked them up either.”
Cheney’s fifth heart attack this week fueled the lore surrounding his unassailable ability to survive repeated coronaries. But rather than supernatural powers or a contractual allegiance with the dark forces of hell, doctors say Mr. Cheney’s recovery is testament to modern medicine’s advances in detecting and treating the leading killer of half a million Americans each year.
Dr. Lou Teufel, the former vice president’s personal physician, called Cheney’s recent heart attack mild but highly unique. “Richard Cheney, unlike the majority of heart attack candidates, has a rare condition we have not seen before.”
With a typical myocardial infarction, the blood flow to the heart is interrupted, causing some heart cells to die. This is most commonly caused by an occlusion (blockage) of a coronary artery following the rupture of a vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque, which is an unstable collection of fatty acids and white blood cells in the wall of an artery.
“What we’re seeing here,” continued Teufel, “is not the usual occlusion. It’s, well, difficult to describe. It’s as though the left and right coronary arteries are fighting one another. You see, the left coronaries, which are currently the stronger of the two parties in the chamber, are trying to do their jobs. They keep pushing important and critical materials through the system, but for some reason, no matter what the left does, the right blocks all passage. Everything the left tries to get through to the rest of the body, the right shuts down. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. If the arteries were people, I’d say they were being irrationally obstinate. The right side has just decided to stop anything the left does, regardless of how it impacts the welfare of the broader system. If this behavior continues, the entire body will die in no time at all.”