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!”