Where’s that Jim McKiernan?

I have heard there have been a few McKiernan spottings around the Valley. Someone at QFC saw McKiernan holding onto a shopping cart. Another saw him in the passenger seat of a family car while driving through North Bend. Still another saw him at the Fall City Cemetery on Memorial Day.

But other than these sightings, where the heck is that guy?

Well, I have had a lot of people inquiring about my literal drop off the face of Snoqualmie Valley, and figured it was about time to let you all in on the reasons. Things turned out pretty good, so it makes sense to fill in the gaps.

I found out about four years ago that I was born with a bi-cuspid atrial valve, a common birth defect that obviously can affect blood flow in the body. In the last year it began to leak worse and four months ago it started affecting other things. I know I had most of you fooled with my spry attitude, my ability to fly down the sidelines of a soccer game taking pictures or downing a few beers at the Pour House but in reality, I was dead tired.

So my doctors recommended replacement of the valve, and I had two options. The first was a bio valve which is basically a valve from a pig or a mechanical valve. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but I chose the pig valve, thus my recent disdain for pork rinds.

But open heart surgery isn’t an everyday dilemma, so there were many things to prepare for. Things like a will (for those of you who don’t have one, Jonathan Pearlstein did ours and did a great job). We wanted to take a trip, and luckily, my wife Karen’s company had planned a trip to Cancun for several employees. So a week in Cancun, four days of trying to prepare for an extended work break, and off to surgery.

Surgery was at Overlake Hospital, and all I can say is “wow.” My surgeon, Dr. Joseph Austin, was as calm as cool hand Luke (a good thing when digging around in a person’s chest) and the nursing staff was amazing.

So now I am on the road back to my cussing, spitting, beer-drinking self — albeit Bud Light instead of Blue Moon.

I should be back to work in three or four weeks, but it will take at least two months to get back to normal (a loose definition in my case).

But going through this kind of experience does help re-define one’s values. Family is always first, no matter what. Environment is a close second, and there isn’t any place better to deal with such an overwhelming physical change as Snoqualmie Valley. Friends make all the difference when recuperating from anything.

But I look forward to many more years of Friday Night football games, making city council members mad, networking at a Chamber After Hours and writing highly opinionated editorials.

Thanks for your calls of concern, notes of support and general well-wishing.

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