Good health often depends on good timing
Knowing when to book an appointment.
The cardiothoracic surgeon’s secretary told us she once had a patient who’d been waiting months and months for her operation. The secretary finally had a date available and phoned the patient.
“I can’t do it then,” the patient replied. “The lino man is coming.”
We all chuckled, but the secretary had reason to tell us this story. Hubby had just rejected the first date offered to him for his mitral valve repair and double bypass.
Hubby didn’t want to have open heart surgery on his birthday. To him, that seemed like tempting fate.
He was aware of Mark Twain’s prediction: “I came in with Halley’s Comet...and I expect to go out with it.”
Somehow, in his mind, Hubby’s scheduled return to hospital after being born in one equated to the significant celestial events linked to his favourite author.
Of course, logic has nothing to do with how he entered this trajectory in the first place.
It all began one morning when Hubby complained of “indigestion” the previous night.
“What do you mean by indigestion?” I asked.
“Chest pain,” he said.
“You’re going to hospital,” I said, aware of his family history of early cardiac death. (I was not lulled into playing doctor.)
When the cardiologist interviewed him, and asked him to point to where he’d had the pain, Hubby used one finger.
When asked how long the pain had lasted, Hubby replied: “One second.”
I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me – I was so embarrassed.
Needless to say, my husband had all the routine tests and they came back normal. However, as an added precaution, a stress echo was booked for a month hence.
On the day, Hubby exercised well beyond expected capacity for his age, but the test incidentally discovered severe mitral valve regurgitation, later confirmed on transoesophageal echo.
Although Hubby was completely asymptomatic, review of the recent literature suggested that surgery at an early stage would prevent irreversible cardiac damage down the track. And what better time to assess the old coronary arteries? An angiogram showed two blockages.
I am convinced his one-off episode of indigestion was indigestion, but look how fortunate we are to have uncovered these time bombs, along with the opportunity to defuse them.
Back at the surgeon’s office, Hubby informed the secretary that he’d have to consult his work diary before he could set a date for theatre.
“It doesn’t matter what is happening at work,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter to you,” Hubby replied.
I started to hyperventilate. An appointment was quickly booked then and there, before the resuscitation team needed to be called out for my benefit.
The date is set for the week following his birthday. No comets are scheduled to be passing Earth. And the lino man is away on holiday.
Tags: , Humerus