Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory

Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory

Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory

Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory

Synopsis

Speaking to the American experience, this philosophical diary reflects on Cavell's journey from early childhood in Atlanta, through his musical studies at UC Berkeley and Julliard, to his subsequent veering off into philosophy at UCLA, his Ph. D. studies at Harvard, and his half-century of teaching.

Excerpt

July 2, 2003

The catheterization of my heart will no longer be postponed. My cardiologist announces that he has lost confidence in his understanding of my condition so far based on reports of what I surmise as symptoms of angina and of the noninvasive monitoring allowed by X-rays and by the angiograms produced in stress tests. We must actually look at what is going on inside the heart.

Even if I had not eight years ago officially retired from teaching, summer months for teachers are not ones in which routine obligations can serve to shape the days in which life is suspended until the hospital date for the procedure is settled and the time comes to pack a bag for an overnight stay. Apart from learning of the risks in the procedure’s actual performance, there are the frightening statistics (frightening even when reasonably favorable) that doctors are obliged to convey to you, not alone of problems incurred in or by the procedure itself, but those of its possible outcomes. In the instance of catheterization the possible outcomes are mainly three: one, that no further surgical intervention is necessary, so that either a change of diagnosis or of medication is in order; two, that instruments roughly of the sort involved in catheterization can be (re)inserted to open and to repair where necessary arterial blockage; three, that the blockage is severe enough, or located in such a way, that bypass surgery is required. (The possibility that nothing can . . .

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