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.