Craig Snyder has a broken heart.
Given that he’s made his living spinning country songs on local radio stations for the last 25 years, that makes sense.
But he doesn’t have one of those broken hearts — the kind caused by his woman running off. He has an actual broken heart. In late summer, the program director and on-air personality for 107.7 The Wolf woke up in a sweat, heart pounding, convinced he was minutes away from taking his last breath.
Turns out the pounding in his chest was diagnosed as atrial fibrillation, basically an irregular heartbeat. But closer examination showed more was wrong. He had a defective, calcified valve that was useless, and there was a 60 percent blockage in an artery.
Maybe only one issue wouldn’t be a huge deal, but in combination the three problems would be deadly if not corrected. His doctor told him maybe he’d live five years.
“After he mentioned open-heart surgery, I haven’t been able to think straight,” Snyder says.
The surgery will take care of the blockage, incisions will be made on his heart to cause scar tissue to interrupt the stray electrical impulses causing the fibrillation, and a pig’s valve will be inserted to give him a third working valve.
“I’ve actually considered giving up bacon,” Snyder jokes.
The surgery was supposed to take place on Oct. 12. On Oct. 11, he sent out a note to his Facebook followers, reminding them that if he didn’t make it to cherish the small things in life — like a child’s laughter or your mom’s hug.
Turns out the surgery was delayed by a tooth infection that could have led to a life-threatening postoperative infection.
Snyder is 50 years old. He morbidly jokes that he may be down to 4 years, 11 months to live. The surgery could come next week. It could come next year. He needs clearance from his dentist and an opening from his cardiologist.
His deteriorating heart has sapped his strength, taken his breath away, made him a little fuzzy in the head.
But his diagnosis has also forced him to do a lot of thinking, mostly about his six daughters and the truly important stuff in life.
His doctor can’t tell him exactly why he is sick. Maybe it’s from smoking, maybe it’s genes, maybe it’s just bad luck. But he believes it may have been from the stress he was under when he was laid off from K-100 on Oct. 28, 2008. Between then and September, 2010, when he was hired at the The Wolf, he lost his house, his car, and was living on about $150 a week.
But none of that matters now. He was told he’ll feel 10 years younger after the surgery, and “they won’t be able to hold me down afterwards,” he says.
“It took a while for all this to sink in. But then those bills and the collection calls, none of that really mattered. Taking the kids to the zoo, that’s what matters. You really appreciate the little things.”
Brian Dugger’s column on country music appears the last Saturday of every month in The Blade. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.