Friday, July 19, 2013

Everybody Dies...

I suppose I should approach this from a sort of philosophical perspective...

From the Kung Fu TV Series Pilot (1972), we watch the vignette,
Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.
[Young Caine tries to do so and fails]
Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Caine: No.
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
In a similar fashion, Jesus instructed the disciples that for those with "ears to hear", there would be signs of what was to come, as clear as the advent of leaves on the fig,
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matt. 24:32–33.)
All the signs would seem to indicate my time to leave.

I went into the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center on Thursday, for coronary angiography.  The results were not good news.  Lots of clear evidence of advanced atherosclerosis.  The cardiologist said many of my coronary arteries are obstructed, and some are fully blocked.  This less than two years since my major bypass surgery.

Perhaps significantly, the doctor did not bother to explain the prognosis, but only to explain that he has no further remedial measures to offer, he sees no reason to try any further medical intervention.  "Dammit Jim, I'm a Doctor, Not A Miracle Worker!"  Nature taking its course.

Not that this was any kind of a surprise to me.  I've heard this before, under similar circumstances.  I've been expecting such a verdict since 2008, with several near-death experiences.

Close family members have died recently.  My brother Tom in Sept 2001, my father in April 2011, and my sister Mary in May 2013.

The cardiologist seemed to suggest that I sorta deserve to have arterial disease because I've chosen to be such a fat person.  Apparently he feels that anyone weighing in at anything over 200 pounds is not really fit for his attentions, and is just a waste of his valuable time.   (I am presuming that the good doctor weighs 200 pounds.)  He recommended that I might want to consider some sort of bariatric surgical self-mutilation to correct my defect, and sent a hospital representative to tell me about this popular medical procedure.  The outcome from that meeting was not encouraging either.

Not that I'm much interested in this sort of thing.  I didn't really even have a chance to voice my vote on the heart surgery, at the time.   But apparently it was just assumed, since I showed up at their hospital.  Going to the ER seemed like the natural thing to do, since I was hurting at the time.  In retrospect perhaps it was a mistake.  From now on, I'll not be so anxious to find relief from suffering pain at the hands of doctors.  Over the last five years, the medical folks have consistently demonstrated to me that such a trivial consideration as easing pain is far from their first priority.

So it hurts.  But I'm not dead yet.  And I'm not giving up hope.  I've faced this kind of attitude before, and it is no use trying to obtain any further medical help from those with this sort of fatalistic thinking.  Seems like the medical guys are trying to make me believe, "Resistance is futile".  I'm willing to try reasonable things.  But five years ago, I encountered a similar attitude in the doctors attending me after the stroke that should have killed me then.  The suggestion then was for me to take anti-depressants - and find another doctor.

Some time later, a University of Utah neurologist discovered that I had a tumor that was causing at least some of the problems. I had seen literally dozens of doctors with the same symptoms.  Nobody else came up with any diagnoses that seemed even remotely related.

Not every doctor seems exclusively focused on the technical aspects of the medical practice.  There have been notable exceptions that I recognize and apprieciate, like Dr. Digre, Dr. Skalabrin, Dr. Kennedy, Dr. Kielar, and others.  Some seem to realize that the relief of pain and suffering is one of the best things medical science can do for humankind.  But perhaps this pursuit is simply too mundane for most doctors to face - I really don't know.  All I know is, I go to doctors seeking pain relief, and most of them only seem to perceive me as an object that needs "fixing".

I am far beyond the point of hoping for that.

Apparently for me the most obvious interests to pursue now are end-of-life considerations.

Everybody dies.


Dennis said...

No stints are possible? We have a gal in our ward that has so many stints due to her many blockages that she can set off a metal detector in an airport! I think you need a second opinion.

Jim Cobabe said...

The cardiologist is manifestly not interested. Apparently his medical practice already includes more than enough people that are worthy of his time. In any case, I'm not planning to darken his door again.

Looking for a new doctor.

Dennis said...

I have a friend with heart issues and he uses Dr. Marvin Allen, who is somewhere down in Utah County. That's about all I can offer as a possibility.

Jim Cobabe said...

Thanks, Dennis. I'll check him out.

It seems somewhat ironic to me to observe that without exception, every person in the history of the world that has ever received any sort of medical intervention has died anyway, eventually. So are doctors really just wasting their time?

Thomas E S Thomas said...

I always choose Life over Death. My doctor says I'm too fat also. Recently I dumped sodas completely, 2 weeks and counting!