As I think I might have mentioned, one of the reasons I haven’t been around much (aside from the usual reasons of the family, the WiP, and career stuff) is my dad’s health, which has meant two trips to Vegas in the last six weeks or so.
One of the things I’ve noticed, both in myself and in my patients, is the subtlety of aging. Often, the patient doesn’t notice how old he is until something bad happens, and something bad can be as trivial as a cold or a pneumonia. In my dad’s case, it was pneumonia. His body tried very hard to kill him, but hey, this guy survived the entire American involvement in WWII, a little thing like pneumonia and a heart attack and kidney failure and severe anemia wasn’t going to slow HIM down. He spent 11 days in the hospital, during which a cardiothoracic surgeon told him there was no way on earth she would operate on him. No way, no how.
I took a disk with his angiogram back to Bako and showed it around. The consensus here was, “Your father needs a bypass. Make him get a second opinion.” And so I called a pal of mine who is a cardiothoracic surgeon at Scripps in San Diego. He was my chief when I was an intern, and I spent at least two months with the guy. When you’re an intern (or med student, for that matter), you grow to love your chiefs, the good ones anyway. The two I loved best both became cardiothoracic surgeons. I called Rich and he said, more or less, do it. And he gave me the name of a cardiothoracic surgeon who had done his fellowship at USC, and who was practicing in Vegas.
So my dad met with the guy today. My father had already decided to go through with this provided he had better than a fifty-fifty chance of surviving (hey, he’s a poker player. Old habits die hard). The surgeon told him there was only a 4 to 6% chance of failure (or as you folks call it, death). My dad’s going for it.
This is a good thing. My mother has a bit of dementia and depends on him heavily. Having him predecease her would be a disaster. (Is this a bad thing to say? Should I be more sentimental about this? Is our selfishness shining through? . . . Because my two sibs are all on the same page with this one: we do not want to see him predeceasing her.)
I told him tonight, “Don’t drop dead before this guy has a chance to save you, okay?” and he said, “Yeah, don’t worry, I won’t.”
Cuz that’s how we roll.