Older folks spend a great deal of time trading health related information with each other. For most of us, those carefree days of youth and indiscretion are well behind us, and each new twinge or minor pain conjures up images of paramedics pounding on our chests attempting to bring us from the brink and delaying a meeting with the big guy in a heavenly setting. I have a cardiac history and am no Mr. Rogers, having lived on the edge for many, many years. This past week found me at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic (these folks literally saved my life by diagnosing a shot valve, repairing it and adjusting the timing in my heart through two cardiac ablations, all 10 years ago). They are that good. Any trip to Cleveland in the dead of winter is an adventure.
Chest pain and a recent abhorrent emergency room experience locally found us on the phone scheduling the big guns in Cleveland once again. This time I spent quality time with an incredible gastroenterologist as the pains could be related to esophageal spasm, which mimics a heart attack. We return in mid February for additional tests related to the esophagus and digestive tract and a visit with a clinical cardiologist who will then quarterback an in depth look at how the heart plays into these “attacks”. Kings, Oil Sheiks and the rich and famous find their way to this clinic but they treat an old, retired police officer with the same respect and diligence as Shiek Bigshotto from Dubai.
Old person health talk aside, the pain issues are not why I write. This past summer, while enjoying a RV sojourn to Hidden Valley, my daughter introduced me to a novel way to soothe my feelings as they departed on a Niangua River float while I stayed back to guard the campsites. A recently reconstructed rotator cuff precluded me from paddling a canoe. The oil on troubled water? A bottle of Shanky’s Irish Whip, a kind of, well, Irish whiskey. Most likely, you’ve never heard of the stuff, I hadn’t but am now enjoying what I hope to be a long relationship with this spirit, in moderation of course. Some years ago, I met the definition of a “binge” drinker, someone who never drank during the week, but who tied one on Friday nights at our local Eagle’s Club. I generally finished the evening with an Irish Coffee, a concoction of Bailey’s and coffee. I still love this drink, but now rely on Shanky’s to take coffee from a wonderful beverage to a sublime treat.
Shanky’s Whip is an Irish whiskey that features a rich cream flavor with hints of vanilla and caramel blended with a smooth black liquor. Think a good Irish Whiskey without the cutting edge that can leave your throat feeling like it has been subjected to a wood rasp. It is, at once, slightly sweet, creamy, velvety and has a long finish. It is wonderful in coffee or over ice, never biting and always pleasing to the palate. A shot of Reddi Wip Sweet Foam, from your dairy section, sets it off nicely. Shanky’s is distilled in Cavan, Ireland. It is a small batch liquor but commands a rather reasonable price. It is not easy to find, (not available in Springfield) and we travel to Mac-a-Doodles in Osage Beach for ours. I have managed to addict two of our closest friends and my sister to this nectar and we generally check with one another before going near a liquor store that carries it. As I write, I am enjoying a very good coffee infused with an ounce of this black magic. It takes my mind off such things as “lake affect” snow and a 10 hour drive through all the weather you could ever hope not to see.
My parting shot. All doctors and all troopers are not created equal. For that matter neither are all shoe salesmen. Neither are whiskeys. If you have had about all of the local talent you can take and are suffering from a serious issue, particularly heart related, check out one of the 300 cardiologists that practice at this clinic or hundreds of other specialists who make the grade as a Cleveland Clinic doctor. Even if they only confirm what your local doc has ordered, it could be a second opinion that keeps you around to read my musings for a while longer. I hate losing readers and love you all. By the way, please accept my deepest gratitude for the heartwarming birthday sentiments. Age has a few advantages, one of which is trusted friends and another is the refined pursuit of excellence, whether it be medical care, good whiskey or an old dog who gets you.
Have a wonderful week!