The past few years my mother had been feeling fatigued. The condition kept getting worse and she finally went to a doctor. To make a long story short, the mitral valve on her heart was compromised, and the heart was not able to fully function.
Yesterday she had open heart surgery. Everything went great. The didn’t know until they opened her up if they were going to be able to repair the valve or replace it. They prefer to repair it, but in this case it was damaged too much. It was replaced with a valve made of tissue from a pig. Really! She will be walking through the hospital hallways TODAY (albeit very slowly), a mere 24 hours after the surgery. I am simply amazed at this.
As a joke my dad is going to purchase a small pig trough and place it in their bedroom for my mom to see when she gets home from the hospital. That is how my family rolls – we always make jokes in tough or stressful situations. I think the hard Midwest winters darken our sense of humor.
As an interesting aside, the valve was damaged not because of a genetic defect, but from disease (this was good news for me). The doctor proposed that my mother had rheumatic fever as a child and that this was the cause of the valve being compromised.
It has been a stressful week for me, as there was a 1%-2% (between one and two percent) chance that my mother could have died on the operating table. We are very thankful that everything went well.
Over the last week I have been thinking of Shannon’s posts about parents that don’t give their children vaccines because of quack science, and people not having any sort of decent number gut.
It stunk that there was a small chance of my mother dying yesterday, but there really was no question in our minds that the surgery was needed. The valve will last 20 plus years, and after my mother’s recovery she will feel much better physically and mentally (she was always mentally sharp, but the doctor thinks that she will be even sharper with increased blood flow to the brain). At her age, she probably only has 20 years left on this earth anyway. So the basic decision was easy. Assume the small 1-2% risk of dying and feel better or live “x” number of years tired and worn down, with an increased chance of heart attack or stroke each and every day.
As a parent of two small children, we were given the (questionable) numbers of our children getting autism from the new vaccines that are out. Being a businessman, the odds and percentages were very easy for me to understand. The vaccinations were a no brainer. The problem is that many parents that I know are foregoing the vaccinations for their kids, making the appearance of horrible diseases more likely. At least my kids will be protected. Hopefully.
Open heart surgery is an amazing process if you think about it. A machine was pumping blood through my mother, keeping her alive as the surgeons skillfully repaired her heart. I will never understand those who reject western medicine for quack treatments, or can’t fully grasp simple numeric concepts that explain risk/reward.