Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage for Christmas

December 24, 2012, on my treadmill, about 8:10 AM. Rosanne upstairs, sleeping in. The pressure started at the base of my neck, pushed up the outside of my head, and pinched off my ears - that's how it felt to me. "What was that!" I thought, stepping off the treadmill.

Then the headache. Wow. Never had anything like that before.

December 24, 2013, on my treadmill, about 8:10 AM. Rosanne upstairs, sleeping. How ironic. Are we people of habit? I chuckled. And wondered.

Don Gehrig, MD, told Rosanne to take me to the Emergency Room, where I was to tell the nurse, "My doctor believes I'm having a brain bleed, and I need a CT Scan right away." We followed his instructions. A few hours later, I woke up in ICU at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. After 11 days, they removed the spinal tap, and my final four days in the hospital were far more comfortable.

It's obvious I recovered or you wouldn't be reading this. But why write it?

While experiencing the health care experience at St. Joseph's in what the hospital called the aneurysm center of the United States - or was it the world? - I realized something: The work I had been doing since 2005 held great value. Protecting the world's best health care system (speaking here in a broad sense) is an important mission. Making sure others could receive the incredible care I experienced is a noble and important pursuit.

All that surrounded me at St. Joe's was not, however, just the product of an isolated system to provide health services. Not by a long shot.

At least four critical elements built this marvelous care system:
The relatively free market-based economy of the United States, and the riches that economy has generated making investment in health care possible.
People. Smart and motivated people, gifted to care for others and willing to pay the price to master themselves and the human condition that demands their help.
Science. Scientists. The never-ending pursuit of knowledge and the application thereof.
The Creator. God created science and order. He created human life, and all life. He created freedom. He set me free.

Many memories flood over me this Christmas Eve, relative to my brain bleed. Three remain constant:
So many friends who visited and cared.
Family who gathered around me (not the Christmas tree).

And lest you wonder, I told the neurological psychologist who tested me this past July that somehow, I think my brain is working better now than ever. But for sure, I do not recommend a subarachnoid hemorraghe as a cure for a tired old brain.

God be praised.