Over the past couple months, I’d been experiencing chest pain, and had attributed that to the series of bronchitis infections I’d suffered over the past several months in California, Argentina and Chile. Two weeks ago, though, they became so acute that my GP suggested I do a treadmill stress test and see a cardiologist who, evaluating the results, told me that “you’re a sick puppy.”
There’s a history of heart disease in the family, as my father and both his brothers died from it. The cardiologist’s original idea was a place a stent to clear out my clogged arteries without undertaking anything more invasive, but a camera probe showed the arteries could not support that alternative and that, in fact, I could have suffered a massive heart attack at any point. After spending several days under intensive care at Kaiser San Francisco, waiting for the dissolution of blood-thinning medication I had been taking, I underwent a triple bypass operation last Wednesday June 29th, and I came home yesterday afternoon.
That’s where the link with Southern Cone Travel comes in: the Argentine cardiologist René Gerónimo Favaloro , who worked at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, was a pioneer in arterial bypass treatment, and his Fundacion Favoloro , in downtown in Buenos Aires, is probably Latin America’s foremost cardiological research institute. Unfortunately, Favoloro himself never lived to see the success of the procedure, as he killed himself with a gunshot to the heart in 2002 – when the depths of Argentina’s worst economic crisis ever must have made that success seem ever more remote.
Dr. Favaloro’s procedure, though, should make it possible for me continue updating and improving my Moon Handbooks to Argentina , Buenos Aires , Chile  and Patagonia , with a minor inconvenience: the wire that now holds my healing sternum together may set off airport security alarms. That’s a small enough price to pay for another two decades or so roaming the Southern Cone countries.