Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Gotta Have Heart(s)

My bridge gang - we're all poster kids for good cardiac care.

We start playing at 10 am, play three rounds of 6 hands and then break for lunch.

Inevitably the medical rolls begins.

At 67, I'm the youngest at the table and with only 3 stents in various arteries and 2 angioplasties, I'm the least experienced under the knife.

All of which is to say that, before we even tick into the soup, we all agree that health care - and particularly cardiac care - in this province and this city is quite wonderful and amazing.

Each of us has "the best cardiologist in town," which makes for at least 4 great ones and counting.

Thus, it was a bit of a shocker to see this morning that Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, one of the great modern sovereigntists of the age, is off to some undisclosed U.S. hospital for heart surgery.

The Globe has not one, but two stories on this matter and one opinion piece.

Williams is a fascinating and often most admirable guy.

He is a millionaire and nobody's fool and nobody's patsy.

He loves and protects Newfoundland - and donates his premier's salary to charity - and continues to have a voter approval rating above 80%.

The editorial argues that how Williams manages his own health is entirely his business.

I agree.

When faced with mortality, we will all do exactly what we can to survive.

But, that doesn't stop any of us from wondering what exactly is this circumstance or this medical condition that it cannot find timely and appropriate response right here on Canadian soil.

Nobody on the political stage, local or national, has been willing to criticize Williams over this decision. All wish him speedy and best recovery.


Is this some terribly arcane and delicate procedure known only to a handful of experts in, say, Boston, or New York?

If it is, then we will understand.

If not, why not take the cure in Vancouver or Winnipeg or Toronto where heart surgeries, if not a dime a dozen, are certainly performed with astonishing regularity?

VGH, for example, completes on average 20 angioplasties a day.

I don't know the numbers for open heart and valve jobs, but they are almost a matter of course these days.

In the meantime, we join all others in wishing Mr. Williams the best.

And we will look forward to learning the full story.

And to playing our next hand of bridge.