Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Encounter

They sat together, staring down at their feet not sure what to say.

One was a silent war hero from the French Resistance, the other his doctor.

It was a chance encounter.  He, supporting his wife as she checked in to the orthopedic clinic, the other, there himself for the first time as patient.  For each, as life, it was unexpected.

They sat smiling, reflecting on the irony of it all.

Their story together, while brief at first, was rich.  On a trip back to his homeland of France, he had brought down a 747 single-handedly as his defibrillator fired repeatedly.  The event both humbled and embarrassed his doctor whose hubris had assured him of the effectiveness of a prior ablation, only to awaken to the epiphany that arrhythmias, like life, are difficult to predict.  An AV junction ablation would be required to quell another unexpected arrhythmic onslaught.   Both realized they were doing the best they could at the time.  Neither were in control.  But both had prevailed together.  And through their long history together, more stories were told - secret, personal stories - as they developed a deep sense of admiration and appreciation for the other.  But the stories were always told on the doctors' turf.

Until now.

There they were again: younger doctor joining the war hero once more as equals. 

Fighting the fight on the same field now.  Quietly sitting. Staring. Smiling.




Anonymous said...

Sounds like the poor guy should make sure he packs a magnet handy when he travels. A lot of us do.

Anonymous said...

Sounds as if the poor guy should make sure he packs a magnet handy when he travels. Many of us do.

And if each & every shock was really appropriate (>200 bpm, etc)-- guess it's time to offer a therapist's name, referral to a support group, & some xanax. You might perceive a WWII vet as not needing them, & he would probably not ask. But just sayin'

Thanks for the good writing.

Anonymous said...

If he's solving the problem with AV node ablation, then it was presumably an atrial arrhythmia, for which ICD discharges are not lifesaving. And AV node ablation is an extremely drastic treatment, rendering him totally pacemaker-dependent and condemned to 100% ventricular pacing for the rest of his life (on top of anticoagulants, no doubt). You can't give his full history, but were less extreme means of mitigating the severity of his arrhythmia tried first?