Thursday, June 25, 2009

Impatience is a Virtue

Waiting is part of the public health patient experience. Patience isn’t just a virtue but an inevitability. My parents instilled in me the notion that there will always be someone worse off than you. It bears remembering here. They are welcome to my place in the queue because the truth is, today, I am anxious about the surgery.

Friends have told me that, when they heard I need a quadruple bypass, they did what we do now and Googled the term. I haven’t. I prefer to rely on the bloodless schematic of my heart prepared from the data collected during the angiogram I had a week ago today. The diagram bears as much resemblance to the viscera of my actual heart as the famous London Underground map does to the Victorian twists and turns of the tracks themselves. Looking at my heart map, with its legend of blockages; 80% here, 100% there, 50, 50, 50, 40, 40, it is easy to be as dispassionate about the truth as I would be if I was poring over the electrical wiring diagram of my old Sunbeam motorcycle.

So, you see…I have neatly avoided the videos on YouTube, my theory being that it can only frighten the living bejezuzz out of me. In any case, observing the process will have no lasting benefit to me. It’s not as though I will be called on in the future to assist in an impromptu roadside open-heart surgery ‘because I have experienced it.’ I am counting on being blithely unconscious during the process in any case, so my recollection will be unreliable.

Avoidance is in my nature. I avoided the realization that the pain in my chest would not magically go away. I avoided confronting the truth that taking the blood pressure medicine I had already been prescribed would protect my heart and other organs from damage. Avoidance based on denial was the last thing I needed. The gruesome reality is, had I confronted the issue of my high blood pressure earlier I might not find myself in a hospital bed, being woken at all hours of the night to have blood taken (I have named Lestat the technician who has come several times undercover of dark. He takes great pleasure not only in his work but also announcing, “Ok, Pain coming…now” before sinking his needle into my vein – or somewhere near it.

If you are approaching 40 years of age or have passed that auspicious mark I recommend you visit your doctor to have your heart health checked. It will be a simple procedure. Your blood pressure will be checked. A blood sample will be taken and checked for the state of your cholesterol.

My recommendation is: don’t wait till it is too late.
Impatience might be the virtue you most need now.


  1. Avoidance is your nature huh... Well at least you're not in denial about that! 'Looking forward' (in a non-morbid way) to have a look at your 'zipper' when I'm back.

  2. Hey David, I wish all the best! I have been following you on Twitter. With all good thoughts & energy from your family and friends, certainly your recover will be very very fast. Get well! all my best, Mariela Castro (far away in Brazil!)

  3. Hi David, I just read about you in the Idealog newsletter - am thinking of you heaps, I know you'll be fine. Keep smiling and "head up young person" :) Lotsa love Allison O'Neill

  4. David, would you please stop having heart attacks. There's too much of this sort of thing going on. Good luck and get well.