Beep Marty gets stents

The Brooklyn Paper
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Borough President Markowitz is resting — albeit reluctantly — at his Park Slope apartment after two stents were inserted into his heart last week at Maimonides Medical Center.

The peripatetic prez — who has remained in constant email contact with his staff ever since the stent operation last Saturday — is expected back at his Borough Hall desk next week.

“We all keep telling him he needs to rest, but he can’t wait to get back here,” said a Borough Hall insider. “He wants to get back to work.”

Markowitz checked himself into the hospital on June 17 after feeling a dull ache in his chest. The hospital’s medical staff quickly determined that Markowitz needed a stent to open up clogged coronary arteries.

Two stents were installed — a fairly common procedure nowadays — and the borough president never lost consciousness.

“It was like nothing I’d ever felt before,” Markowitz told The Brooklyn Papers in an exclusive hospital-bed interview earlier this week.

“It was a dull pain. But once I got to the hospital, I knew I’d be all right.”

The procedure was over before Markowitz’s wife, Jamie, could even make it back to the hospital after leaving him there and returning to the couple’s Park Slope home to feed their parrot.

In the interview, Markowitz admitted that some of the fault for his clogged arteries lies in his own love of Brooklyn’s culinary heritage.

“I’m going to be eating fewer pastrami sandwiches,” he vowed. “But part of it is hereditary. My father died at 35 from a heart attack. I have to be vigilant. I tend to be heavier than I should be.”

In a subsequent phone interview from his home — where he was up and about and “answering emails” — Markowitz said he did not know when he’d be back at Borough Hall full time.

“Believe me, that’s where I want to be, but I gotta get some rest,” he said. “I’ll go back when my doctors say I’m ready.”

Then he turned introspective about his ordeal: “I got a warning and hopefully, I’ll heed it. I’ve got to make some changes.”

The news broke Monday afternoon, with a statement by Markowitz’s office. The statement offered scant details, but added that the surgery was successful and that Markowitz was “eating and [is] in excellent spirits.”

As the news spread, Brooklynites poured out their sympathies for their stricken leader. Many wanted to send flowers, but were told that Markowitz’s office would prefer donations to Camp Brooklyn, the borough president’s pet program, which sends inner-city kids to summer camp.

But one group of worried women had to say it with flowers.

“I think I was on the phone with them for an hour” trying to persuade the group against sending them, said Markowitz spokesman Brian Vines. The women won.

At the first Markowitz-free public event at Borough Hall on Tuesday, Markowitz aide Carolyn Greer stood in for her boss, wearing the Brooklyn Cyclones jersey he would’ve donned to mark the team’s home opener.

Markowitz also missed throwing out the first pitch at Keyspan Park later that night.

“That really hurt,” he said.

The timing of Markowitz’s ailment couldn’t be more ironic. The borough president recently kicked off his annual “Lighten Up Brooklyn” weight-loss campaign — an annual crusade that is an offshoot of his up-and-down (mostly up) battle with weight over the years.

“The messenger is flawed, but the message is a good one,” he said at the campaign kick-off last month. “Brooklyn has an obesity epidemic.”

Now, the Beep will have to follow his own prescription: Maimonides has him on a strict, post-stent regimen that includes exercise, a balanced, pastrami-free diet, and stress reduction.

To paraphrase one of the borough president’s beloved “Leaving Brooklyn” highway signs, oy vey!

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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