Thankful for loved ones and good care

Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It is a man-made tube, often made of wire mesh, which is inserted into an artery after it has been cleared of blockage using a procedure called angioplasty. The stent remains in the artery permanently holding it open and improving blood flow to the heart muscle. In most cases this procedure eliminates the symptoms including pain.

For more than 30 years cardiologists have been performing heart catherizations and angioplasties resulting in improved quality of life and countless saved lives. It is a common practice done so often that it is considered routine. That is unless the person having it is your own mother.

My Mom didn’t tell me about the heart pain until a friend from church threatened to call us herself. I guess she may be the source of some of my own stubbornness. The doctors were going to do a heart cath and if there was blockage then they would go ahead with the angioplasty and stent.

Some of the kids made the trip down to Panama City where we kept telling each other at how routine it was and how many people we knew who had been walking around with stents for years.

Praise the Lord that despite a history of heart disease in both her parents, the arteries were clean as a whistle. Perhaps that is the result of a lifetime of being active, watching her weight, and listening to her body. Perhaps it is the result of an “occasional” glass of red wine. Perhaps it was simply the result of the many prayers lifted up on her behalf.

In any case, we had dinner that evening with the sunset leaving a long red streak shimmering across the bay and reflected on how amazing the day had been regardless of the wonderful results of the test.

I only know enough about the technical aspects of the heart to be dangerous. However, in a time that the entire country is talking about the soaring costs of heath care and insurance, I know that there is an aspect of medicine and care that has no known price.

Karla, my mother’s dear friend from the church choir, was waiting outside the entrance to the heart wing. Karla has worked many years at Bay Medical and had already set everything up before we arrived. From the paperwork to the private room, Karla made my Mom feel like she had checked into the Ritz-Carlton.

Tricia, the nurse, brought extra chairs for the four of us, placing them directly under the sign that said “one visitor only”. A chicken salad sandwich was obtained from the grill to supplement the standard hospital fare.

Tom, the cardiologist and a friend of my Mom’s for more than 20 years, called us back to talk to us individually, taking time to answer questions and give encouragement.

The truth is we all like to complain about the cost of healthcare but when we have a true need for a loved one, we don’t care how much it costs. My own experience has been that the trust that you put in those who are caring for you is worth even more. We rest easier if their skills are enhanced by a personal touch and sense of caring.

Karla, Tricia and Tom, along with countless others behind the scenes, took care of my Mom. I am thankful for the results, but I take comfort in knowing that even if the news hadn’t been so good she would have been in the hands of these extraordinary people.

Records are meant to be broken, but that doesn’t mean that they are all good. For the first time in history, our country has passed $1 Trillion in the federal deficit. Unfortunately, we still have three months to go in this fiscal year.

Record spending in an attempt to fight the recession plus paying for two wars at the same time puts the numbers at a level that is hard to comprehend. Combine that with declining tax revenues at almost all levels and you have a situation with only hard difficult choices to make.

Reducing spending, the typical Republican solution, or raising taxes, the Democratic approach, both negatively impact the rising deficit even more. Talk of yet another stimulus package combined with steeply higher taxes and an expensive health care plan makes the short-term deficit seem impossible to control.

I didn’t live through the Great Depression, but I have seen high inflation and high interest rates in my lifetime. It seems that we may want a lot but we aren’t willing to pay for it. I hope I am wrong, but my father told me a long time ago that just wouldn’t work.