Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In Praise of Western Medicine

For most of my life, I have expressed disdain for Western medicine. I went out of my way to avoid contact -- with Western pharmaceuticals in particular -- and embraced Asian medical traditions, such as those of Tibet, China, and India. The practice actually served me rather well, so I saw no reason to admit any worth to Big Medicine.

Until, one day, I was forced into the clutches of Big Medicine in all its glory. A classic, All-American "widow maker" heart attack was narrowly defeated by heroic measures in a Southern California hospital. 

This was the same heart attack that killed my father, so as I recovered, I thought of how he would have been saved if he had access to the same treatment that saved me. I thought of the tens of millions of dollars invested in the cardiac cath labs of today, and of the research that made them possible. Perhaps, somewhere, my father's death had served a purpose in that research, if only as a statistic. 

During my heart attack, an interventional cardiologist placed a drug eluting stent in my left anterior descending artery. The heart was quite damaged -- the whole front wall died -- but the stent proved an effective aide.

Last March, I suffered what appeared to the EKG to be a mild anterolateral infarction. As the stent keeps LAD wide open, it was reasoned that LAD's lateral branches were at fault. Because the conditions of care were less than optimal, I was stabilized, and no intervention was made.

This past Friday, I was admitted to hospital with chest pains. Cardiac catheterization revealed a 90% blockage of OM circumflex. Another drug eluting stent was inserted, after which I quickly recovered. A second heart attack was thus narrowly averted.

So, now I have my two stents, and a lifelong prescription for Plavix -- a wonder drug with an iron-clad patent -- which costs $220.00 per month (that is the discount price), and there are no generics on any horizon. Together with low-dose aspirin, this protocol keeps my ticker ticking for the benefit of all other ticking tickers.

In the first instance, my life was saved by a Taiwanese doctor; in the second, I was treated by a doctor from Mumbai. They both express disdain for Asian medical traditions and embrace Western medicine wholeheartedly.

My "whole heart" is done with disdain. When you pull out of those steep dives, you level off loving everybody.

Especially the readers of DTBA. I have missed you very much.

[Endnote: The doctor wants me to stay calm for a month, after which we may or may not be doing another surgical procedure. So, I apologize in advance for being a little slow with the 2012 Water Dragon astrology. For those of you who cannot wait: "Water" and "Dragon." Get the picture?]

[Update: A friend in Canada reports that generic Plavix is available for $39.47 for a month's supply! That is incredible, seeing as how I just spent $55.00 for a week's supply. How is health care in America being served by denying us the ability to purchase pharmaceuticals on world markets?]

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5 reader comments:

Cliff said...

Hi there! There are quite a few folks "out here" that are grateful that you have chosen to share in words some of your experiences and impressions. I know it's been of benefit to me. Thank you!

Cliff in Cleveland

Nemo said...

We make and sell generics in Canada. It's 39.47 for 30 tablets. Buy over a hundred and it is can be 1$ per tablet. You turned me into a Canadian Online Pharmacies advert, lol.

Anonymous said...

move over here to Scotland, where all prescription medicines are free of charge.

snakespeak said...

As one of the other tickers who has shared a similar experience, I must express my gratitude that your karmic thread led you to recovery and a re-invigoration of your Bodhisattva nature so that this ticker in the reductio ad absurdum phase of self clinging karma can benefit from your wisdom and insight.

Christine said...

Heartfelt thanks for what you write, and best wishes for an easy and playful convalescence.