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July 26 , 2010

Tonight at the Morpheum: A Hospital Farce in Three Acts


Markham Shaw Pyle, historian of the George Washington – Selina Huntingdon correspondence, the events of that portentous year 1937, Congress' decision, four months before Pearl Harbor, to keep the draft (by one vote), and the investigations into the loss of RMS Titanic, looks back on his 2014 heart attack and triple bypass, his recovery, and the missed diagnoses, misdiagnoses, and dangerous consequences of thirty years’ untreated illness.

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A long essay at once harrowing, hopeful, and hilarious (never put a writer on a morphine drip: he'll hallucinate about typography and book design), Mr. Pyle looks candidly at the humiliations of colitis, the vagaries of having a vagus nerve that's trying to kill him, the dubious joys of having a heart attack on Halloween, the trials of recovery, the life-debt he owes to the physicians, nurses, and staff at Houston's Memorial Hermann Heart and Vascular Institute, and the surprising livability of life after illness.

From the time the other local hospital got shut down inadvertently by "Deputy Brangus and his Merry Men" to his first onset of illness in law school, to the stresses of losing both parents in a span of eighteen months and the surprising ways in which support is found in unexpected places, Mr. Pyle looks with wry candor and his accustomed wit and style on the ills flesh is heir to – or legatee of, if there's Will. And finds, as he hopes others suffering from the same ills may find, that there is, always, hope, after all.

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