What are the odds?

08. 07. 2009 at 13:19

As many who read my occasional diary know, after my heart attack it was discovered that I had a totally blocked artery, and the remedy was an attempt at doing an angioplasty. I arranged a consultation with the cardiologist, Dr Grech, who put my mind at ease and said he had a 70% chance of successfully unblocking the artery. In my mind that’s a high chance of success. It’s certainly at least a glass half full situation. And, at the end of the day, even if it couldn’t be unblocked, there are alternatives.
So I decided to go ahead.

Since that day, the bit that’s concerned my is the odds within the angioplasty procedure. The risks are explained in advance.

Firstly, there’s a 1/100 chance of a groin injury – the angioplasty is performed by inserting a tube into the main artery in your groin and then feeding a catheter through up into the heart. Then hole is a couple of mm thick in the artery, so is plugged up at the end of the procedure to stop the bleeding. I guess it’s quite a strain on this area hence the risk. Now I’d rather have discomfort in the leg/groin than the blocked artery in the heart, so I’ll happily take that 100 to 1 gamble without too much worry.

But there’s also a 1 in 100 chance of a stroke, heart attack or fatality…and it’s this that’s been playing on my mind for a few month since my last health blog post, while waiting for the date of the procedure.

I thought I’d share how I coped with this. If coped is the correct word. I’ve gambled a few times in my life and enjoy playing games that involve the role of a dice. So on one hand I had the thought that 100 to 1 was pretty risky, but on the other hand, and this is the thing that gave me a glimmer of hope in my half empty glass head, is the fact that I rarely get a £10 win on the lottery (54 to 1 chance); I rarely get number 23 on roulette (36 to 1) and would I bet on a 100 to 1 horse? I have done, but I never expect to win. Even down to a roll of a dice. How often does 6 come up when you need it (6 to 1)?

So still with a sprinkling of doubt I entered the procedure room at about 9.15am yesterday in a fairly relaxed (well I hadn’t any brown stains in my pants) state. An hour or so later I was out. I had a sore leg, an aching heart, and three inserted stents, but I was still alive. Of course, I have to thank the skilful cardiologist and his excellent team. And I guess the next time when I’m presented with a health odds situation I’ll feel less anxious.

So anyone reading this with the decision ahead of them, I’d recommend going ahead. Of course this is just an opinion I’m no medical expert – so please seek professional advice.