An unexpected side effect of a heart attack

Regular readers will recall that back in 2009, I suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery.  Since then, thanks be to God, my heart’s chugged along just fine.  However, I’ve been left with a zipper scar down the center of my chest where they cut me open to operate, then wired my sternum back together again.

Today I had to cut a padlock to which I’d lost the key, so I dug out my trusty bolt-cutters.  Guess what?  When your chest has been wired together, and you try to exert very strong pressure from both sides towards the middle of your body (like when trying to close bolt-cutters), that wire binding hurts like a sumbitch!  It seems the inward pressure from both hands tries to pull it apart.  I had to stop, take a deep breath, and admit defeat.  One quick trip to the hardware store later, I now own a small Porter Cable grinder with a cutting wheel.  Once I’ve learned to use it safely (the last time I used something similar was back in the 1970’s or early 1980’s – if I recall correctly, they were steam-powered in those days!), that padlock will be history.

(Something else I was reminded about today;  the latest and greatest technology is not only often unnecessary, it can also be much more expensive than it needs to be to get the job done.  A battery-powered grinder to do the same job would have cost me several times more than the wired version I eventually bought.  It wouldn’t have done a better job – simply been a little more convenient through not having to lead an extension cable to the work site.  I’ll take the savings instead, thank you very much!)

It’s frustrating to be reminded that one’s no longer in the first flush (and strength) of youth . . .



  1. Yeah, BTDT, have the wiring to prove it. And you're right, it hurts like a sonofabitch when you forget and put pressure on areas that don't like it.

  2. I also get frequent reminders that I'm not 25 any longer. Frustrating, but probably necessary given how stubborn I am.

  3. I know what you mean. I recently made the comment on my blog that it's hard on my fragile male ego to admit that I'm about 1/20th of the man I used to be. lol

  4. Yep, same story here. Had a heart valve replaced about a year and a half ago and experience the same pain when crunching objects together. Saw a link a couple of months ago which showed how to break padlocks apart using a pair of open ended wrenches. Insert the jaw of each wrench into shackle, then resting the rounded outside edges against other, pull them apart. Haven't needed to use this yet and have no idea if I will experience pain doing it.

    I used to be able to rip out push ups like nothing, but now, anything over five becomes very uncomfortable. Doing 'Granny Pushups' (feet against object resting on knees), I can do the exercise with little pain. Just have to do a lot more reps. Its okay if you have the time.

  5. You kids and your newfangled steam powered grinders. Why, when I was young and using a grinder, you had to hitch it to a mule team.

    On a more serious note, and returning to your mention of safe use, I have only to glance down at my left arm and the just under an inch scar to remember to take extra care when using the grinder.

    If a Harbor Freight trip is in the future, the thin cutting wheels and the thicker grinding wheels are good enough for once in a while use, and priced right.

  6. Full face protection when you're using a cutting wheel. They've been known to shatter. I'm just sayin'.

  7. A small diameter crow bar bar twisting through the shackle will break many padlocks. Locks are to keep honest people honest.

  8. As far as battery-powered tools go, my experience has always been that, if you're not going to use them every day, they're going to let you down.

    And, if not having it work when you want it isn't bad enough, just wait until you have to pay through the nose to replace the batteries every few years.

  9. cheers Peter
    things don't float around anymore, are harder to push and hurt joints.
    looking at something and knowing you used to be able to handle it is my new damn moment.
    so lets raise one, and down one for the young ones running around. They seem to know we need help.

  10. There are some pretty cool videos on youtube showing how to shim a padlock with a beer can. Super low cost and requires no protective gear.

  11. Paracribe's right. The web is loaded with easy padlock bypass tricks. Seems like a fair number of locks can be now be jarred open by simply tapping them with a ball peen hammer.

    Old age and guile…

    …or you could go the youthful way, run 100 feet of cord, hook up the ole Grinder, throw on the face shield, and get nicknamed "Sparky".

    🙂 Just kidding around…

  12. Another method of using bolt cutters is to lay one handle against a solid object, and push with both hands on the other handle. Works even easier if you can step on it, although keeping the cutter from twisting sideways becomes more of a problem.

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