The former Vice President of the United States is now officially the robot he was always accused of being. A feature in the New York Times reveals new details of Dick Cheney’s mechanical heart pump, which saved his life when it was installed in July. Skinnier, but still going hunting and looking mean, Cheney even showed the thing off at a party. And while he taught his daughter how to cook Christmas dinner and even saw True Grit (“two thumbs up”), Cheney is not the same as he once was. He’s scarier.
It works like this, according to the Times:
With most patients, a power line emerges about waist level and connects to a controller, a minicomputer that plugs into a pair of one-and-a-half-pound, 12-volt batteries. Patients wear a black mesh vest over their clothing that holds the controller and batteries. They usually cannot shower and have to be satisfied with sponge baths.
A little gross, to be sure, but here’s the most terrifying part, both because of the health implications and because it is Dick Cheney:
His new mechanical pump — a partial artificial heart known as a ventricular assist device — leaves patients without a pulse because it pushes blood continuously instead of mimicking the heart’s own beat. Most pulse-less patients feel nothing unusual, but the devices do pose significant risks of infection. They are implanted as a last resort either for permanent use or as a bridge to transplant until a donor heart can be found.
Cheney must now decide whether he wants to pursue a full heart transplant or continue to frighten little children.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 4, 2011