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THE TELLTALE HEART
Dan Levin
May 20, 1985
Was the chest pain the author felt while running a sign of serious heart trouble? Trying to find the answer cost him many sleepless nights—and $8,983
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May 20, 1985

The Telltale Heart

Was the chest pain the author felt while running a sign of serious heart trouble? Trying to find the answer cost him many sleepless nights—and $8,983

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I think I sighed. Bezoza retreated a bit: "I don't believe you're going to see a significant angiogram. I think you're going to see a solitary lesion, but if you don't do the angiogram we might miss you." Then he steamed ahead. "And you might be a person who's set up for sudden death [I sighed again]...10 years from now."

I said goodby to Bezoza and found a message on my answering machine from No. 4, a Park Avenue cardiologist named Marvin Mordkoff, whom I would speak with on the phone many times for nearly two weeks before I got to see him for more than 10 seconds. I soon began to think of him as Mordkoff the Mysterious. (Oriscello was the National Treasure, Scheidt was Inconceivable, Hochman was Hochman.) Mordkoff spoke so deliberately, with such lengthy pauses, that often I was forced to say "Hello?" just to check if he was still on the line. "...two tests that show something," he said. Long pause. "Hello?" "The probable cause has nothing to do with coronary disease."

"Certainly two people have thought otherwise," I said.

"There's nothing that's impossible. Uh [pause], I have a vast background with this type of problem, and I think [long pause] you write beautifully."

"What?"

"I have never received a letter like the one you...."

"That was just a scrawled note."

"It was a joy to read...so succinct. I was impressed."

So was I, with his sensitivity and literary judgment. Mordkoff's optimism about my arteries was easy to take, too. I decided that he'd earned a starting shot. I said, "I'm going to see a total of four people [Hochman, Oriscello and, in three days, Scheidt], and you're the fourth."

Mordkoff had already discussed my case with colleagues at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, and he said, "A lot of people are interested in you."

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