It’s not exactly what one would choose to hear when a cardiologist, reviewing the results of a routine ultrasound look at one’s heart, announces that m-a-j-o-r surgery is a mandatory requirement for survival. OK, so I knew that I was a freak in that my genetic inheritance included a thrift measure by equipping me with an aortic valve with just two rather than the normal three flaps, and that such an el cheapo valve invited consequences that typically include an ever-expanding aorta that, once it reaches the ‘pop point’ (‘ruptured aneurism’ to the medical cognoscenti) – RIP.
But having been totally asymptomatic, even though – or maybe because – I had been playing tennis 4 or 5 times a week, it required some mental gymnastics to come to terms with the process of preparing, in cold blood, as it were, for big-time open heart surgery planned about a month in advance.
Yes, I had ‘enjoyed(?)’ a few days in a hospital once before – bye bye tonsils – but that had been over 70 years ago. Pity I couldn’t have reached the point where 70 years had become, say, 85 or so.
One of the distinct advantages of living in tiny but oh so high-tech Israel is that one can not only quickly learn exactly which surgeon and which hospital must be considered as non-negotiable requirements for the required highly specialized heart surgery, but also that one can – with a little help from one’s ‘friends in the business’, as it were – arrange to be put into the right hands and at the right place. I got both.
The operation itself was, from my standpoint, a non-event: I went to (dreamless) sleep on a Saturday night, and awoke the following afternoon, to discover that I had been disassembled and reassembled in better order – it says here – all whilst languishing in the arms of Morpheus. Pity that the recovery process can hardly also go unnoticed….But the prospect of resumption of tennis in about 3 months from the date of the operation is a great incentive to a speedy and thorough recovery.
So what was the out-of-pocket cost to me of that hospital sojourn and the brilliantly executed events that occurred therein, including a pacemaker (accurately!) thrown in? Brace yourself! The answer is, as we used to say as kids in England: “4/5ths of 5/9ths of Sweet Fanny Adams” (encrypted version of ‘f- - k all’); translation; a big fat zero!!!! Great healthcare system here folks, from which no-one is excluded. (Are you listening, Uncle Sam?)