Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Out from the valley of the shadow of death

It has been a while since I last wrote, but there was good reason. On Sept 23, I went in to one of the country's "top ten" hospitals for a “minor procedure” that was supposed to let me out in 3-4 days. My surgeon was very well-respected. On the second post-op day I told the staff there was a problem but was reassured my recovery was normal. Late on the third day my blood pressure disappeared, a fever developed and I was rushed back to the operating room, where 2 quarts of blood were found in the abdomen, indicating a post-operative hemorrhage, and then I was admitted to the ICU in “guarded condition.” [Translation: may not make it.]

After 10 days in the ICU, I went to the surgical floor for a week and then a rehab hospital where I could not get out of bed without help. Two weeks of rehab, followed by home PT for a month and I am well on the way to recovery.

What lessons should you take from this experience?

First, let me remind you of my definition of “minor surgery:” surgery done on someone else. Something can always go wrong, so be very sure there are not non-surgical alternatives before agreeing to an operation.

Second, be your own advocate or have someone close assume that role. I was probably not insistent enough that studies were needed the day before everything went sour.

Third, be sure you have a written health care proxy and have reviewed it with your surrogate. Do you want to be on a ventilator? In what circumstances? This should be made explicit.

Fortunately, my tale has a happy ending, but that was far from guaranteed.

On another note, the newest Alzheimer’s drug has been reported to great fanfare, but I urge caution. As is all-too-often true with new drugs, the benefit was "statistically significant" but I was not impressed with the clinical benefit, and the two deaths in the trial remain to be explained. More when I have a chance to read the full paper.

Prescription for Bankruptcy. Buy the book on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back to the land of the living, Big Ed. A scary tale, but we can all profit from it. Wishing you the speediest possible recovery. Hard to think of words that don't sound like boilerplate, but there it is.