Mr. Paddle and the Lost Art of Dying

In the annals of platform tennis, Mr. Paddle is the legend that is mentioned most often. Usually after a few drinks. Strange sport paddle tennis. Played in the fall and winter. Outdoors. The floor of the courts are heated in case of snow or ice. The people who play are mostly tennis players looking for something to do in the dark days of a long winter. I don’t play tennis.

I've never played platform tennis until this winter. The courts are mini tennis courts enclosed in chicken wire mesh. You can play the ball off of the wire. It is a doubles sport. One does not need to be an athlete to play—it is a sport of mostly position and strategy. Athleticism takes a back seat. Mr. Paddle embodied the prototypical player. I was coerced into playing this winter. Best decision I’ve made in a while.

The guys describe themselves as fraternity brothers that never grew up. We play on Thursday nights and weekends. We play, we eat and we drink. Mr. Paddle was 82 years old, smoked cigars, drank whisky and played paddle all with equal enthusiasm. He was a renaissance man. He died last year. Never knew him but his mode of demise is what I have come to think of as “The Lost Art of Dying,” his last legendary act.

This issue of VEIN Magazine luckily does not require an article about anyone’s last legendary act before their demise. As much as one may think that Mr. Paddle’s end is depressing fodder, it is not. More about that later. This issue we have an uplifting story highlighting the ongoing exploits of a solidly influential person in the vein world, Alun Davies. With Dr. Davies’ accent and a penchant for writing, research and clear thinking, our man Mr. Paddle would be intellectually lost if he spoke with Alun.

At VEIN, we like to use these in-depth profiles of well-known and engaging individuals as a catalyst for those of us on our own path to reflect and evaluate what we can contribute to vein care.

Read the personal, yet globally applicable article by Cindy Asbjornsen about how public and physician education can be beneficial to all. She is the first contributor from our most northeastern state, Maine. Her thoughts and methods can be adapted by most of us, whether we are seasoned veterans or newbies in the vein space.

Two clinical articles that address the management of the diseases venous thromboembolism and chronic venous insufficiency are penned by Marlin Schul and Fedor Lurie, respectively. Both of these disease states, while not the majority of pathologies that vein specialists confront on a daily basis, are very important as to how they affect our patients’ quality of life and the economic impact to the health care system. Marlin’s article gives us practical advice as to how to look at VTE and when and how we can help. Fedor highlights a unique technology that can help our patients with CVI.

There are two articles about seeing things better. The article titled “Action” gives us ideas as to how marketing videos can convey information and enhance our practices. They allow patients to see us better. The Syris system is a hands-free headlight with polarized light and magnification that helps us see veins better. Read these articles and see what they do to help us.

Lastly, just when you thought you knew everything about ultrasound, Joe Zygmunt gives us a view from both sides of the coin. His article encapsulates many issues in imaging. He draws from his own vast experience and that of an expert named Bill Schroedter. We all need ultrasound for almost anything we do. This article is a must read one.

These articles in VEIN Magazine help us lead a better vein life, but what about Mr. Paddle’s mode of exit? The circumstances surrounding his exit are legendary, and read somewhat like an O. Henry short story. Mr. Paddle (some eight months after his second CABG surgery to re-vascularize his diseased and abused coronaries) needed two things: cigars and whisky.

He left the Englewood Field Club where he had just played platform tennis and went to get his cigars. His next stop was Oprandy’s Liquor Store for some scotch whisky. It was a Thursday night, a night of paddle, food and drink. He already had all three.

He paid for his whisky, headed home and got out of his car with bottle in hand. He tripped and fell. The bottle broke, lacerated his wrist and there he lay drunk and bleeding. The EMTs found him unconscious with significant blood loss. He was resuscitated and brought to Englewood Hospital which is across the street from his beloved paddle tennis courts. He had come full circle. He spent the next three days unconscious in the ICU. Then he died. Before his death, all of his paddle fraternity brothers visited. They all took solace in the fact that he died doing what he loved—the lost art of dying was found.

Enjoy this issue of VEIN Magazine and let us raise a glass (and a paddle) to Mr. Paddle for his inspiration and life lesson in the “Lost Art of Dying.”