Mindy Newell: A Dear John Letter
Dr. Hibbert: Homer, I’m afraid you’ll have to undergo a coronary bypass operation.
Homer: Say it in English, Doc.
Dr. Hibbert: You’re going to need open heart surgery.
Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo jumbo.
Dr. Hibbert: We’re going to cut you open, and tinker with your ticker.
Homer: Could you dumb it down a shade?
– Homer’s Triple Bypass, The Simpsons, December 17, 1992
Well, John, you described the medical procedures you’ve had very well. In fact, I couldn’t have done better myself! I especially loved your description of the catheter bag; if you don’t mind, I’m gonna start calling it a “Gucci” at work – although maybe my women patients will prefer “Louis” for Louis Vuitton.
I do know why urologists just pull the stents out without anesthesia; because it is so quick – the five minutes or so that it has taken me to write the column is more than the procedure itself takes – (1) it’s felt that the exposure time to anesthetic agents isn’t worth the risk. Yes, there is a risk factor in anesthesia, even local anesthesia; (2) the time it would take to recover you in the Post Anesthesia Unit (PACU, or simply, Recovery Room) is longer than the time it takes to remove a stent; (3) if you have anesthesia you’d have to go either to the hospital or an ambulatory surgery center – probably the later; (4) the MD is actually saving you some money, as your bill would then include the anesthesiologist’s fee and the hospital/surgery center’s fee; and (5) it saves not only dollars, but time – a relatively short time in the MD’s office could become a whole morning spent in the hospital or surgical center.
Despite that, me personally? I would still opt for the anesthesia. Why? Because I’ve been in on those procedures and, believe me, I wince every time. Yeah, give me a couple a whiffs of nitrous oxide or a syringe full of pentothal (the stuff that I call “Jackson Juice” because…well, you can figure it out) every time, baby. No pain, so much gain!
So when I say I felt for you as I read your column, I really did.
As for your upcoming entry into the “Zipper Club”…
You know that my brother also had a “surprise” coronary bypass. Only he’s got you beat, John. All five of his arteries were blocked – to such a degree that the doctors didn’t know how he was alive. Yeah, basically Glenn was a “dead man walking.” But these days he’s playing tennis, working out and doing his biking thing. (I mean bicycles, not motorcycles.) Yep, he’s out there pedaling away, doing 70 miles easy. His latest trip with his cycling buds was in Virginia this weekend on the Blue Ridge (as in Mountains) Parkway, with elevations of 600 to 6,000 feet, and which winds it way for 469 miles through Virginia and northern North Carolina. And the weather is always changing, despite the season, which means that Glenn and his pals got caught in some serious rainstorms. Which just added to the fun.
So maybe one of these days Mary will buy you a bicycle and pretty soon you’ll be travelling the roads of Michigan and cursing out the cars that are passing you at 100 miles per hour and throwing mud and dust and pebbles into your face.
So hang tough, John.
And know that we’re all with you.