RICHMOND

Annually, for years, it has been our custom to make semiannual trips to Boston to visit my electrophysiologist. (Dictionary --"Cardiac electrophysiology is the science of elucidating, diagnosing and treating the electrical activities of the heart.")

My Boston doctor is one of the world’s leaders in the field and I was lucky enough to go under his care when he was starting out with an experimental drug at the University of Massachusetts hospital in Worcester. Since then he has moved from UMass to St. Elizabeth’s in Brighton and now Beth Israel in Boston. And with me every step of the way.

The main purpose of the specialty is to stop people from dying from ventricular tachycardia, which doctors always referred to as "death in the street." I have had five such attacks and the tiny electronic marvel nailed to the wall of my chest has come through each time. Not only that, it records every nuance of all electrical activity in my heart. When the doctor reads the voluminous printout from the machine, there are no secret or inadequate readings. What is there is what happened, is happening or might happen in my heart.

The machine, smaller than a pack of cigarettes, is definitely expensive to visualize, design and manufacture because it is so small but so accurate. Hats off to those manufacture such marvels and to the people who pay for their distribution.

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However, we are not here today to talk about machines. We are here to expound on the people who populate the city of Boston. Because of the Marathon tragedy, we all have a general idea of how noble Bostonians can be.

"Boston Strong" and "first responders" are now key words in our lexicon. But Boston people are also kind, generous and helpful.

I know this because last December I fractured my femur, the biggest bone in your body. It was a clean break and the surgeon quickly nailed the parts together. But then came the dread word "rehabilitation." This has to do with physical therapists (the toughest, most determined people in the world), and reconstructive exercises over and over and over and over again.

My most helpful piece of equipment is my tracker, the foldable four-wheeled helper set into sliced tennis balls to keep you from falling off the world. You can manage it by yourself pretty well, but in Boston you don’t have to.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, people pop out of walls to help you cross streets, get into elevators without being hit by the closing door, crawl in and out of vehicles, go up, go down or sideways. They’re either smiling or very serious, but they are there to extend a friendly hand.

Boston is strong and the first responders take it seriously. God help all of them for helping me.

Milton Bass is a regular Eagle
contributor.