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The Barry Manilow Interview (Page 2 of 3)

Gary Barg: You have mentioned the word “rhythm”; it leads to my next question of what is the “Get Back in Rhythm” campaign?

Barry Manilow: To make people aware of this condition, this atrial fibrillation. As you go on GetBackinRhythm.com, they have put together what I am trying to say, only much more articulately, and they have a little test –“Do you have this? Does it feel like this?” If you check off enough boxes, then you know you probably have atrial fibrillation and you need to get yourself to a doctor.

Gary Barg: That is good to know. Frankly, as family caregivers, we take ourselves out of this circle of care. We ignore our own issues; and then I always tell caregivers if you do that, who is going to step in and care for you and your loved one? This sounds dangerous.

Barry Manilow: You are right. It is dangerous. I have spoken to many doctors and they say, “So many people do not like to go to their doctors.” One doctor said, “You are like me; I do not like to go to doctors.” And he was a doctor! It is very common. But with this one, you really have to take it seriously because it can go to some really nasty places.

Gary Barg: Pretty quickly, too.

Barry Manilow: Once the medication stops working, as it does with me, I cannot stop my heart from going crazy. Then they have to stop it because you are playing with fire if they don’t. They give you what is called cardio aversion. They give you the paddles—I call them paddles—what we have seen on TV all the time where they say, “Clear!” and then bang!—those paddles. They put you out so you do not really feel very much. It is terrifying, but when you wake up, your heart is back in rhythm. That is when the medication does not work; that is the next step. They have to do something as dramatic as that because they have got to stop it somehow. They have cardio averted me—they have given me the paddles—I cannot even remember how many times over 15 years.

Gary Barg: Now you know what to do about AFib and, obviously, cardio aversion; how else does it affect your life?

Barry Manilow: It is a pain in the neck. It comes on in the middle of an interview like you and I are having. It comes on in the middle of my life. It never really has come on when I have been in the wings waiting to go on stage. I do not know why; it has just left me alone on that.

But there was one time when I was in Boston. I was in a thing with the Boston Philharmonic on July 4th. It was a live TV show being broadcast to millions of people. I woke up in the morning and I felt this thing start. I went, “Oh no, not now, please.” I took the medicine the way I was supposed to and it just would not stop. I called my doctor and said, “Okay, what do I do? I have a sound check at 2 o’clock.” This was around 9 o’clock in the morning. He said, “Get over to the hospital in Boston; there is an area that is devoted to AFib.” I got myself a doctor there and they knew who I was; they got me in. Sure enough; they had to stop it with the paddles.

After it was done, I woke up and the thing had stopped. I went to sound check and kind of staggered onto the stage. Nobody knew and that night I did the show. You can get through your life, but you have got to take care of yourself; that is it. You have got to be on top of it.

 

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