ONLY ON CVP: Eighth-grade English teacher Steve Ludwig of North Bergen never got to give his family the message he wanted before being wheeled into an operating room for open-heart surgery. So he made it the title of his book.
Ludwig is a funny/witty guy whose journey from diagnosis to full recovery will make you cry AND laugh while reading “See You in CCU (A Lighthearted Tale of My Open-Heart Surgery).”
He also shared the origin of the book’s title with CLIFFVIEW PILOT:
Ludwig lay in bed at Hackensack University Medical Center the night before he went under the knife. His loved ones had just gone home, and he wanted to come up with a way to put them at ease when they watched him being wheeled into the operating room the next morning.
He was ready when the moment arrived to tell them he’d see them again while recovering in the critical care unit. But Ludwig’s wife Sue had tears in her eyes, which got him crying, as well.
The words wouldn’t come, “so I used it as my title,” he said.
“I’ve never told this story before. It’s not even in the book.”
PERSONAL NOTE: I told Steve once that I’m a fan of David Soul — Hutch, from the “Starsky and Hutch” TV series. One day, a signed picture of Soul came in the mail. I still have it. When I interviewed him for this piece, he said Soul suggested he disclose how he came up with the book’s title. ~ Lynn Paret
Ludwig was jogging in 2006 when he began having chest pains. He went to a cardiologist and couldn’t complete the first level of the stress test.
The pain returned after he went back to work. So Ludwig headed straight to the ER at HUMC — and remained in the medical center for nine days.
Six arteries were clogged, and five had to be bypassed.
“I always felt sorry for that lonesome, neglected one that wasn’t bypassed,” he said, joking.
“I knew when I was writing the book that I wanted it to be funny for the most part,” Ludwig said. “When it’s appropriate, it’s serious, but it’s mostly fun and silly.”
For starters, “I take the readers into the operating room and give a blow-by-blow — or is that cut-by-cut? — account of every gory thing that was done to me,” he told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Besides tapping his medical records, Ludwig packed a journal with plenty of notes. Five years later, he wrote the book.
“My brother Tom is a graduate of the Art Students League, and I figured I had an artist right in the family, so why not have him illustrate? My nephew Billy is a professional photographer, so he took the author’s picture on the back cover.
“It was a family affair.”
It pains him at times that his mom, who died in 2009, never got to see Ludwig become a published author, fulfilling a dream he had since he was eight years old (There’s a little message to her above the last page). But throughout the book, the love of Sue and those closest to him shines through.
Was he scared going under the knife?
“No. My doctor told me my heart was strong. And I never doubted him!”
Ludwig will be signing copies and reading from “ See You in CCU” on June 29 at The Coffee Machine, 175 Main Street, Ridgefield Park: (201) 440-2902
Artwork by author Lynn Paret will be on display from June 16-30 at The Coffee Machine. Owner Pat Silvestri, a true patron of the arts, hosts open mic nights, artist receptions, poetry and authors’ readings and signings. Silvestri is holding a reception for Lynn on June 23.