Singing the Marseillaise–a heart-felt rendition!
October 25, 2012 by Robin Ellis
Today I sing the praises of the French Health System.
Pre-intervention–ignorance is bliss!
I had an intervention late Tuesday afternoon at the remarkable Clinique Pasteur* in Toulouse and arrived back home, little the worse for wear, just a bit weary–early Wednesday evening.
I was a lucky fellow, though….
The recent cardio stress tests I underwent locally had shown that all was not as it should be–though the extent of what was wrong was not clear on their apparatus.
So Docteur Lefevre, my cardiologist in Castres, decided to send me to Toulouse, where they can insert a solution in the relevant arteries and scan for blockage or damage.
On my way to the theatre–but not the one I’m most familiar with!
This happened early Tuesday evening as I lay naked on a slab, like an oven ready chicken, my right hand tied firmly to the spot, in the cardio theatre of the clinic.
With automatic cameras constantly shifting position over me (like an old fashioned studio shoot for Poldark back in the seventies!) Dr. Assoun made his assessement of the possible problem(s).
After an age–so it seemed–a masked face, with two big eyes, appeared through the sanitary barriers and Dr. Assoun announced quietly that I had a partial blockage in the main artery and two more in subsidiaries and that as I was “presenting well” he was going to insert stents, there and then, to free the blockage and allow the blood to run freely.
Whoopee! I thought–at least I won’t have to go through the tedious indignity of being “prepared for the table” a second time.
Fully conscious, I was determined to remain calm and not move a muscle!
The mind boggles at how medical advances have made this possible.
Well that wasn’t so bad!
Later that evening Docteur Assoun came to my room to reassure me that all had gone to plan.
(The dear fellow blushed when I said what a fantastic job he had done.)
It was only yesterday afternoon just before we left for home that I saw the video, recorded on the clanking cameras, playing out on the TV screen in Docteur Assoun’s office.
There’s my main artery in the “before” version.
A squiggly black tube snaking its way towards the heart. (The black is how the blood shows up.)
Dr. Assoun then points to the “problem”–a small section that was crimped and pale, with a thin black line running through it–a narrowing–a partial blockage–a danger!
When/if that had closed up–heart attack!
The “after” pictures show a healthy black tube with no pale section.
Why then had I not felt something was wrong?
I had had none of the usual signs–breathlessness on walks or pain in the chest.
The original visit to Docteur Lefevre a month ago was for a ROUTINE check-up.
(Something I had been meaning to do but perhaps unconsciously putting off.)
I am a lucky fellow!
The problem for diabetics, Dr. Assoun says, is that the condition can mask vascular/arterial problems.
This I will investigate with Michel, my G.P. and Docteur Lefevre.
For now this experience has brought home to me the importance of making regular service visits to the heart doctor–just as I do for my eyes and my feet.
Now for a full bloodied rendition …! (honouring too the staff of the Clinique Pasteur who do Le Systeme Medical Francais proud with their positive, friendly and reassuring manner.)
Allons Enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de la gloire est arrivé!
[Arise, children of the homeland
The day of glory has arisen!]
* This quote from Louis Pasteur is the mission statement of the Clinique and is printed on the front of their brochure.
“On ne demande pas d’un malheureux: de quel pays ou de quelle religion es-tu?”
On lui dit: “Tu souffres, cela me suffit. Je te soulagerai.”
(We don’t ask an ill person what country they are from or what is their religion.
We say: “You are suffering, that’s all we need to know–we will ease that suffering.”)