Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New tricks?

It’s a time of year when the burden of acute illness has dropped, excepting an especially vicious and protracted Hay Fever season. As a result normal surgeries have a little less pressure for appointments and the number of patients attending for routine medication reviews has increased, as they try to get in before the holidays, theirs or mine.

Bill was one such yesterday. He’s eighty years young. Six months ago he had a bit of a scare. He was on the bus, on his way in to town, when he went a bit “funny”. He came to in CCU with a temporary pacemaker making his ticker keep ticking. Shortly after this he was scheduled for the surgery to insert a permanent version. His nurse joked with him that they were going to put the temporary machine in. It’s a box the size and weight of a car battery with knobs and lights and such, and it needs a permanent mains electricity supply. Bill was a little perturbed. Then his surgeon came round and showed him the real one, a little miracle of miniaturization hand crafted in finest clockwork by gnomes in Zurich or somewhere similar. It has its own battery, good for at least five years before replacement. And fits snug and flat in the palm of one hand, with room to spare.

Bill described in detail the procedure of insertion, for which he remained awake, the whole thing being done under local anaesthetic.

“First they put the wires in and I got to watch them go into my heart on a t.v. screen. The the surgeon says “Right we’re going to put the thing in”, and they carved a lump of flesh out of my chest to make room.”

“ I’m glad they didn’t decide to use the bigger machine! After all I’d have looked silly with a wire hanging out of my chest!”

He looked down at the scar after the insertion. It looked surprisingly small given all the carving and excavation that had seemed to be going on. He was more impressed by the blood stained sheet left on the operating table.

A month after the procedure he was back in clinic to have his bionics checked. The pacemaker was working pretty well, but the voltage needed dialling up a bit to get Bill’s heart pounding as it ought. After a couple of electromagnetic tweaks the surgeon was happy.

“There you go Bill. Your heart’s as good as new. You can do anything you want now.”

From the back of the room Mrs Bill’s voice could be heard.

“Don’t even think about it Bill!”


BenefitScroungingScum said...

So no little blue pills for Bill then?!
More seriously such technology amazes me, when I was very young a friend of the family needed a pacemaker, and during the years she waited for surgery/had it altered etc would regularly hit the floor, usually face first, not good as a young mother.
I guess this is the type of treatment made more available more quickly by this government?
Hope all's well with you and yours, BG

Doctor Jest said...

Bendy Girl-- I'm afraid you're right about Bill. Not that he was too bothered and his comic timing when he told me the tale was impeccable so he can manage that form of stand up quite well still despite everything ;-)

In fact cardiology in our neck of the woods has been transformed since dear Tone's pledge to step up NHS investment to EU average levels.

It used to be the case when I started in Ambridge, that we would advise our cardiology patients to try to get taken ill in France or Germany if they could manage it, but this past 4-5 years have seen speed of access and intervention transformed, so yes I guess you can say they got that bit right.

Z said...

Mrs Bill's a bit of a spoilsport. You'd think she'd be pleased...

Aqua said...

Dr. Jest,
I just love your blog. This post made me laugh. I'm with "Z" She should have been pleased!!

Doctor Jest said...

z-- from the way he told the tale I suspect they have reached an accomodation since ;-)

aqua-- Thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to stop by in the first place. I'm happy to be of service. Welcome aboard...