So I go to my “follow-on” appointment with the surgeon who saved my life. After a little small talk about how I was feeling and about how rude my works doctors were being, he cut to the chase.
He informed me that the operation I’d gone through was a bit more dramatic than I had initially thought. I think the figures he bandied about were 5 out of 6 folks don’t survive it, dying about 5 to 7 days after receiving it. The tear which had been made by the other surgeon to open up my slammed shut arteries was going to be a lifelong problem.
I was lucky, he said, the tear was “man-made” versus congenital (in other words being born with it) but, and it was a big but, it would need to be closely monitored for the rest of my life. The other “bombshell” was that I probably would not be able to continue in my current occupation.
The “fitness test from Hell” aka the bleep test would be too taxing in all probability but not deadly. The Control and Restraint (C&R) part of my job was out of the question, unless of course I didn’t mind dying while in the middle of restraining a prisoner.
All very sobering stuff.
I have said in other posts that I was still waiting for the other shoe (in my case cowboy boot) to fall. I have not had that sudden realization that I had come so close to death and that the effects of my surgery were going to be a lifelong monitoring process to see if I needed more surgery.
Oh, and on the issue of more surgery, only two hospitals in all of England do it. London or Papworth both could perform surgery to repair the tear, however, there’s a 20% chance of dying and a further 20% of becoming paralyzed. The good news is I don’t require it right now.
The bad news is that if the tear gets any bigger, I’ll need the surgery. It may be fine, but, if my blood pressure goes up (like it does during a C&R incident) I could have another, more fatal, heart attack and or it could cause the tear to get bigger. Of course the bigger the tear, the more likely the “iffy” surgery.
I can honestly say, with hand on heart, that the other boot just dropped.
I’ve been walking around and laughingly referring to the fact that I came “Awfully close to meeting the big guy” and that I was lucky that I didn’t have to.
I knew that it had been a close thing on the 30th of August. Two surgeries in one night, the last one an emergency one, counted as close in my book. My daughter said that they had explained to her just how close it was and I assumed I knew also.
Not true. Like most other things in life, I had a “Mike” understanding of the facts. I’d heard “close” and “emergency surgery” and that it had been “touch and go for a while” and I’d put two and two together and come up with 4 and a half.
I will say that I was only marginally surprised at how close it really was. But I will admit to being stunned at the news that I’d have to keep this tear monitored for the rest of my life and that my current job could cause it to become fatal.
So the other boot has dropped with a thud and the plans I’d sort of been making have all been tossed out like so much used dishwater. My initial game plan of getting better and easing myself back into the old grind has been scrapped.
I know I have been thinking (very peripherally) about having to change my career, but that was not really an option, I thought.
So in the blink of an eye my life has been diverted from its present course. I’m now headed for yet another fresh start. I think I’ve broken some kind of a record.
Fresh Start number one was leaving and then divorcing my second wife (just under two years ago).
Fresh Start Number two was the accident at work and having to re-evaluate my life style.
Fresh Start Number three was the heart attack and the realization that my lifestyle was going to have to change further.
Fresh Start Number four was the discovery that my career wasn’t going to see me into retirement any longer.
That’s gotta be some kind of record.
I suppose that deep down inside my reaction to this new information is mixed. One part of me is excited to think that I’ve got a chance now to write more and pursue a more creative type job. Another part of me is scared; a fresh start at 54 is a bit daunting. Yet another part want to tear my hair and rend my clothes in frustration.
Ultimately though regardless of how many different ways this latest bit of news has been received, I’ll just “get on with it.” I remember once, a boss that I had said that the main thing he liked about me was the fact that whether I liked a job or not, I just got on with it.
That’s what I am going to do now. Despite my windfall of fresh starts, I’ll just get on with it.
- Why the Hell is this Taking so Long? (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- For ‘Every Beat of My Heart’ Thanks (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- $6,000 of cowboy boots stolen from horse therapy nonprofit (kens5.com)
- Decision on heart surgery units halted (independent.co.uk)
- Children’s heart surgery unit at Royal Brompton is given reprieve from closure (standard.co.uk)
- Prior cardiac surgery does not mean worse outcomes for STEMI patients who receive stent (medicalxpress.com)