"The trouble with heart disease is that the first symptom is often hard to deal with − sudden death.”
Dr Michael Phelps.
I shouldn’t be writing this. I should be brown bread. Translating that good Cockney rhyming slang, that’s become part of the Australian vernacular, I should be dead. I say this because of my jam tart, my heart. Thanks to modern medical science I’m still here, and it’s been proved beyond all reasonable doubt that I have one, a heart that is.
I had a six-and-a-half hour heart operation in 2011 to replace my aortic valve with a mechanical valve. My book Singing Johnny Cash in the Cardiac Ward-A Personal Story of Heart Disease & Music is a serious attempt to raise awareness about heart disease that kills one Australian every 23 minutes.
This book is also a story about music and my relationship with it through 25 years of broadcasting radio. It’s also a story of my connection with Wellington in Central West NSW, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, and Australia’s two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney.
I want to share my experiences of: The restrictive lifestyle I had to bear for the best part of 2011 while waiting for the operation.The operation itself and my time in hospital.The six-week recovery period.The life I’m living now.
I hope this will raise awareness of cardiovascular disease in general and heart disease in particular, which is a major killer globally. This isn’t just a descriptive account of my experience with heart disease; it’s also a serious attempt to help reduce the large death toll caused by it. A large fatality count that in many cases is mostly preventable.
John/Togs Tognolini 18/9/13
"It's a good read folks, especially if you have just had a heart attack." Gary Foley.
About the photo on the front cover
Russell Crowe, Amanda Dole and myself outside Radio Redfern on May Day 1989. Russell had just performed a few songs on my show, Radio Solidarity. In 1988, Radio Skid Row was evicted from our studios in the basement floor of Sydney University’s Wenthworth Building. We were taken in for eighteen months by the Aborigines/Kooris at Radio Redfern, who now broadcast across Sydney through Koori Radio, until we built and opened the Radio Skid Row studios in Marrickville in 1990. Photo by Frances Kelly.Monday September 30 6.30pm, The Post Office Hotel, Sydney Rd Coburg