Eight days back I had to undergo angioplasty as two heart arteries were eighty percent blocked. Of course, all my relatives and friends were shocked that I (of all people) had a heart attack, and some black magic believers I know smiled knowingly, as if to say that all the exercising and dieting I had done over the years had gone wasted. But then, I had known for eight years that I was headed for coronary disease, after a series of tests had shown that my untreated hypertension of 30 years had affected my heart.
Why I didn’t take pills until that time to contain the high blood pressure is another story: I’d heard that such medication caused impotence and naturally I didn’t want to know what it felt like to be a eunuch. But the cardiologist who treated me eight years ago prescribed a pill which ensured that my masculinity wouldn’t be affected, so I started taking those pills (I was 57 at that time).
Unfortunately I made the mistake of never visiting that cardiologist (or any other specialist) again. I assumed, wrongly, that my thirty minutes daily on the treadmill and a diet rich in fibre would prevent my heart from exploding. So, when I felt a searing pain in the chest which soon engulfed my entire body and left me shaking and sweating, I knew my time had come. I lay down for about twenty minutes, while the pain subsided, and headed for the heart hospital not far from my house.
Now I’d seen my mother undergo heart surgery in 1998 and I couldn’t help marveling how much things have changed. In those days the city had only one major heart hospital. The equipment was primitive and one had to wait a few days before angiography could be done (there was a long waiting list). Now I estimate that there are at least a dozen hospitals in Karachi for heart treatment. In those days there were very few heart surgeons, while I was operated upon by a cheerful woman cardiologist, who I later learned is one of the best in the country. I was on the operation table for about forty minutes and watched on a big screen the rings (stens) being inserted into my blocked arteries.
My cousin visiting Karachi from the U.S. remarked that the equipment and hospital standards were comparable to those in America. I do think we are lucky to have access to the most modern healthcare system, even though it costs a lot.
Image: La Dolce Living