Charles Moretti has trouble listening. It began with listening to his body and then continued with listening to his cardiologist and finally his wife. But to Charles, it's really just a case of testadora - what the Italians call "hardheaded."
It all began on the golf course. Retired from a 21-year career at the post office, Charles works 40 hours a week on the grounds crew at a local country club.
It was a busy week there. He had just help spread 90 yards of mulch at the course. The next morning he was picking up large rocks, timber and branches, but he kept stopping to take a deep breath.
A young co-worker razzed him, asking, "Need to take a break, old man?" Such a taunt pushed Charles on despite the discomfort.
In hindsight, Charles realized he had been ignoring two and a half years of pain. "I blamed it on a hiatal hernia," he says. "But I wasn't really listening to my body."
A scheduled stress test found the real cause of the pain. "I was on the treadmill for about a minute before I needed to sit down," he says. His blood pressure had skyrocketed.
Cardiologist Pradeep Ghia, MD, an independent member of the Easton Hospital medical staff, wanted to move Charles right to the catheterization lab, but Charles wouldn't listen.
"I promised to complete an errand for the Exchange Club, so I left the hospital," he says.
Later that afternoon, the hospital called him because Dr. Ghia was worried. Soon Charles and his wife Dottie were at the hospital. "The staff was waiting for me in the lobby with a wheelchair," he says.
Tests revealed Charles had what's commonly called "the widow maker," where the two main coronary arteries are blocked. Charles had a 90-percent and 95-percent blockage.
When the physician realized that stents would not be sufficient, cardiothoracic surgeon Richard Angelico, MD, came in to perform a double by-pass.
The surgery lasted nearly seven hours. Charles woke in the cardiac intensive care unit. "I was tender from the surgery, but I felt better and had more energy," he says.
He decided to get up and take a walk. "I thought it would be a piece of cake," Charles says. "Boy, was I wrong. My legs were like rubber."
But his drive and ambition helped speed up his recuperation.
Maybe it helped that he didn't listen to his wife. "I was supposed to take it easy at home and Dottie took off work to take care of me, but I wasn't a good patient."
He was going up and down the stairs three to four times a day instead of asking Dottie for help.
"When I do something, I am gung-ho," he says.
He has been gung-ho about his health… with good reason. His father died of heart disease after suffering multiple heart attacks and a quadruple by-pass. His aunt, uncle and grandmother have similar stories.
If family was a motivator, travel plans were even bigger. Prior to his diagnosis of heart disease, Charles and Dottie had a trip planned to Italy. He refused to miss it. "Before surgery I told them that they better do a good job because I was going, permission or not," Charles said.
"But they did better than a good," he adds. "I couldn't have asked for a better team of physicians and nurses. The care was outstanding. I thank that team for everything and would recommend them to anyone."
He did make it to Italy where he toured the country, met family and saw the place his father was born.
So in the end, the Mr. Testadora got his way, learned to listen better and healed his heart.
250 South 21st Street
Easton, PA 18042-3892