Master the Earthly Domain
My, what we take for granted! Last week, one of my patients, Fred, chanted a special blessing before our synagogue’s congregation. The blessing is said upon completion of a long trip or a “perilous journey.” Fred had safely returned from an extended overseas vacation and expressed his gratitude for safely returning home.
Perilous journey, indeed! Actually, an overseas trip is nothing compared with what Fred faced only 6 short months ago. Fred had called my office to set up an appointment because he had experienced chest pain during the prior several days. The character of the pain along with the unmistakable electrocardiographic changes prompted a more detailed heart study called a cardiac catheterization. This was done the very next morning, revealing a very tight blockage in one of the main arteries that supplies the heart with blood. This type of blockage is graphically called the “widow-maker.”
A coronary stent (a metal scaffold-like cylinder) was inserted into Fred’s coronary vessel, and he was home the very next day without incident. A generation ago Fred would have required open-heart surgery to treat his problem. In fact, a generation before that, he would have been offered only nitroglycerine for pain, and advised to simply, “take it easy” so as not to provoke any discomfort. Nothing more would have been available. He would have been fortunate to survive six months, let alone able to take an extended overseas vacation!
In Genesis (1:26-28), God tells us to “master the earthly domain". It gives me untold joy to be able to offer patients like Fred definitive treatment for problems that not long ago would likely have been lethal. In medicine, some of the most “perilous journeys” of the past have become quite routine and safe. For this, let us be grateful.