Sunday, January 3, 2010

How I spent New Year's Eve

It was more exciting than I could have hoped for.  I had a heart attack.

We may complain about all the expensive technology in medicine but when it is in the right hands, it's pretty damn impressive.  Less than 45 minutes from the event to being shaved and under at Methodist Hospital.  The EMTs had stopped the heart attack before we left my home.  Damage to the heart muscle was reported to be "very minor."  They basically rebuilt my left coronary artery with four short stents.

In 1971-73 when I was working as a surgical orderly at University of Minnesota hospitals as ordered by my draft board for the "crime" of opposing the Vietnam War, I think it was possible to have a heart attack in the hospital itself and not have such a short response time.  And we certainly did not have such options--I think they would have done a coronary artery bypass that would have meant 3 hours on the pump and a three month recovery.

On the other hand, nurses work under absurd conditions and are unionizing.  Life for a patient on a critical care ward is psychosis-inducing--it is literally impossible to sleep well.  Doctors are still arrogant.  And I left the hospital with prescriptions that cost over $300 a month.

All in all, an interesting 34 hours.

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