Wednesday, May 2, 2007

That's Why They Get The Big Bucks

At approximately 10:53 yesterday morning, the phone rang. It was my step dad, calling to wish S.B. a happy birthday. I told him S.B. was still on the job site making the world safe for toaster ovens and then I heard something catch in his voice. I asked if he was okay. Actually, he said, I'm not. I'm in the hospital.

That's my step dad for ya. Always casual and unassuming. So much so, that I actually hesitated in my impulse to slam down the phone and head right over there. Instead I took my cue from Mr. Cool and asked him to explain exactly what happened. That's the thing, he said, the doctors don't know yet. Then I remembered how I lost my mom six years ago when she literally fell over dead into her morning coffee.

Forty-five minutes later I arrived at my step dad's hospital room just as his physician, an electrocardiologist, was entering, diagnosis in hand. Apparently, my step dad has an atrial flutter. The treatment plan is to blast his system with coagulants and beta blockers for 6 to 8 weeks to lower his heart rate and prevent his blood from clotting. At the end of which time, the doctor will perform an ablation utilizing a catheter to cauterize the uppity value in my step dad's right atrium, and ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, all will once again be right with his world. Neither the condition nor the treatment is life threatening and the treatment enjoys a 95% success rate.

I was very relieved. And also impressed. First, with the demeanor of the specialist, who took over an hour to explain my step dad's diagnosis, his treatment, the risks, the side effects, etc. He drew us diagrams and patiently answered a barrage of questions. Not once during this time was he ever rushed, condescending, or overly familiar. Instead, he conducted himself with the utmost professionalism, revealing with every moment his exceptional skill as both a technician and a doctor.

And you know what else impressed me? Not only did this experience make me thankful all over again for my step dad, but also for the marvelous machine that is the human body. It's one tough cookie, but also tender and vulnerable in the weirdest ways imaginable. It's a wonder more doesn't go wrong. And it's a wonder what all can be done when it does.

A lot of poo is flung western medicine's way these days. Some of it well-deserved. But not all of it. I got to see it in its best light yesterday, and I have to say if I get sick like that, hold the magic wands, please, and pass that specialist. The one with all those diplomas on the wall, the Mercedes in the parking spot, the Versace suit, and the razor sharp brain.

4 comments:

Orangeblossoms said...

Yeah. Since I started dating one-- an MD, that is, I've developed a slightly less negative picture of the profession. There are some good ones out there....Hope your step-dad responds well to the treatment.

Wicked Thistle said...

Hugs and quick healing to your stepdad. I remember too well that sharp intake of breath when you hear a loved one is in the hospital, and also how long it takes to let it out. I'm so glad he got lucky with a treatable condition.

bnmom said...

We are miracles - If you ever have the chance to see "BODIES The Exhibition", in Las Vegas, NV, presently at the Tropicana, you will see, actually see, what I mean. http://www.bodiestheexhibition.com/bodies.html
My cousin will soon begin his second residency, working towards a career as a cardiologist who can follow a newborn, beginning life with cardiac problems, through their long adult life. This is 20 years of education after high school!!

Moi said...

Thanks for everyone's well wishes! I really appreciate them. bnmom, I will actually be at the Tropicana in June with E!. We're staying overnight enroute to our annual trek to Red Mountain Spa, so we'll check it out!