The Evolution of Medicine

The first person I ever knew who had open heart surgery was Mr. Marshall, one of the fathers in my Boy Scout Troop. He had a huge L-shaped scar on his chest from the operation.

Then, 20 years ago, my friend the late Dr. Larry Washington had a bypass. He ended up with an 8 inch incision on his chest and one 20 inches down his leg, where they harvested the vein for the graft. He told me that recovering from the cut on his leg was harder than from the one in his chest.

13 years ago, when I had a bypass, the leg incision had been reduced to 3 smaller ones, each 1 1/2 inches.

Ten years ago, when Mike had a heart attack in Wisconsin, he had angioplasty: they threaded a catheter through a 1 inch incision in his groin up to his heart, inserted a stent or two and he was healthy. The incision was painful, and he was bruised along 30% of his side.

Tuesday, I had an angioplasty. They inserted the catheter into my left wrist.  Here:

Yep, that little tiny nick is all it took.

Yep, that little tiny nick is all it took.

 

I’ve hurt myself worse shaving.

The progression in medicine is astonishing. The body insult has gone from huge wounds to infinitesimal pinpricks. Recovery time is almost nothing. It’s impossible to imagine what they will think of next, how little intrusion it will take to fix the things that go wrong with the human body. Thanks, medical innovators. Life is good.

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