Hands Upon My Heart  
 
My Journey Through Heart Disease and Into Life
  By Perry Foster

  A true-to-life story about the author's confrontation with the cardiac world's harsh realities and his endless struggle with coronary artery disease.

Email Perry: pryfos AT cs.com (replace the AT with an "@" symbol)

Childhood

I was born and raised in a small farming community a few miles east of Indiana, Pennsylvania.  I have fond memories of Indiana, but it certainly was a different era—crowded sidewalks and bustling shops and stores along Philadelphia Street; Friday evening and Saturday morning gatherings of local farmers on the courthouse steps; lines of weekend movie-goers at the Indiana and Manos theaters; Saturday night sock hops at the Armory; and I recall large Hollywood posters of Jimmy Stewart, some in his military uniform, displayed in the big bay window of his father’s hardware store—and, inside, the rich smell of western saddles draped over wooden sawhorses.  


College


I graduated from Lyndon State College in 1971.  Standing on Lyndon’s campus, gazing down upon a quaint postcard New England village scene, I fell in love with northern Vermont. The college’s main building—a 19th century mountain top mansion once owned by T.N. Vale, Alexander Graham Bell’s accountant—had a magnificent view. New Hampshire’s White Mountains were twenty-five miles away.  After completing my undergraduate work, I taught junior high English in St. Johnsbury, Vermont for two years. 
Northern Vermont’s long winters, however, sometimes lasted until May.  In l973, during a summer stopover in York, Pennsylvania on my way to visit my parents, I perused the yellow pages and stumbled upon a high school English teaching job. After I agreed to help coach junior high football, the superintendent hired me. I later received a MLA degree from Johns Hopkins University, evenings and summer courses. 

Jewelry Business


Looking for a way to earn a little extra on the side, I called a friend in Vermont who crafted pottery. He recommended that I look into Jewelry.  In 1975 my wife and I attended an arts and crafts festival at
Penn State, State College, Pennsylvania.  The event inspired me to enroll in an evening silver smithing course, learning how to construct sterling silver jewelry.  After hours of practice, I showed samples of my work to gift shop buyers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  They liked the simple designs and several buyers placed orders.  I had accidentally stumbled upon a thriving tourist market for inexpensive teen jewelry. The fledgling wholesale business prospered. And I liked it. It was fun, and we certainly needed the extra income. 

Still teaching, I borrowed $4,000 from a local bank, and in time the small investment paid off.  Two years later, I resigned my teaching job to concentrate on the business.  Then I faced another decision: to continue making jewelry in the basement of my home, or purchase it for resale.  A kind old Jew with a twinkle in his eye, whom I had met at a New York jewelry trade show, helped me make the decision.  “You can’t do both and grow,” he said with a Yiddish accent, “manufacture or sell.”  So I began buying sterling and costume jewelry from importers and manufacturers, later, adding gold and gemstone jewelry to the line.  Two years later, my wife resigned her teaching job to manage our first of five small retail stores.


Coronary Problems


Eighteen years later, I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and required bypass surgery.  After an exceptionally difficult recovery, I liquidated the business and retired.  I had always had an urge to write and having taught English for several years, I knew I had the skills to do it.  Following my surgery, I began wondering how many people who had suffered coronary artery disease and bypass surgery had the time, the skills, and the inclination to write a book for the lay reader about the traumatic experience.  Now, a few years after I first began jotting down notes, my story is complete.

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