When it comes to sitting in front of your doctor and hearing them directed at you, a family member or perhaps a close friend, what are the most feared word(s) and phrases you could hear? Words that when faced with personally not only strike fear into your mind and heart but also immediately turn your entire world upside down and all around.
No doubt, a topper on most, if not everyone’s, list. It’s hard to find an individual out there not touched by some form or another, directly or indirectly. Those lucky enough to have avoided their own diagnosis usually know someone who’s not been so fortunate. From a young age and throughout my life, I have known first hand, many times over, the pain, suffering and loss this one word leaves in its path. It is no doubt a horrible combination of letters even to those who ultimately win their battle it remains a threat ready to strike seemingly at will and at any time.
“Open Heart Surgery”
Although significant improvements have been made over the years and countless procedures yearly now make this operation seem a little more “routine”, the bottom line is open-heart surgery (OHS) presents the most invasive form of surgery there is. After all it does entail stopping and cutting into your heart, the very organ responsible for keeping every other organ, including your noggin, working! With a mortality rate between 2 and 5%, the risk of death is relatively low especially considering what is being done but there are other risks such as stroke and kidney failure, which on their own are frightening combinations of letters.
For me OHS has just jumped over the big “C” into first place on the list, at least for the time being. In a few more days I will have open-heart surgery to repair (or replace) my tricuspid valve.
For the next few months it is my intention (and hope) for this blog to take a radically different turn. Rather than focus on diving and environmental issues it will now become more of a diary detailing my experiences through what I expect to be another life-altering journey. With just 4 more sleeps until the big day, the last two months have already provided a rollercoaster ride of thoughts and emotions capable of making for some interesting reading. Putting my thoughts and experiences to paper (or computer in this case) on a daily basis will not only give me a daily goal but it should also prove to be quite cathartic through the long recovery process. Hopefully for you it will also prove to be educational and even entertaining at times.
Fortunately for me, to this point at least, the words open-heart surgery have been followed by phrases such as, “you’re relatively young and healthy”, “it’s a good thing we caught this now” and most importantly “your prognosis is good”.
No doubt I would prefer not to go through this but as many who’ve won their own battle with cancer or fully recovered from OHS will suggest, the end result is a better state of being. For along with these scary words comes a paradigm shift that forces one to have a greater appreciation for what is important in life and to realize that living everyday is a privilege rather than a right.
For me the desire to continue life’s journey and perhaps even more importantly the desire to be a force in the life of my kids will no doubt be what gives me the strength to get through the next few days, weeks and months. So stay tuned, it should prove to be an interesting ride!