Kevin Smith almost died today
and I was already writing this column when I read about it on twitter. On Sunday I met a parent of one of my wives students and he was why I was writing an article about heart attacks and luck.
We were at a youth Hockey game Sunday to watch one of my wives students play. We met his dad and started talking. He was between 30 – 40 and seemed in great health but it turned out he had escaped death by a matter of luck. Several years ago after his own hockey game he felt light headed when he got home. He laid down on the couch and noticed that he couldn’t see out of the bottom of his left eye. His wife didn’t ignore the symptom and took him to the emergency room. At first they treated it like a stroke but luckily for him the emergency room doctor went further and ordered some tests. Those tests required more tests and before he left the hospital after several days of tests he had learned he had the same heart condition that had killed John Ritter and Allan Thicke.
Thicke had also been playing adult hockey when he had his attack. They had actually played in the same Burbank adult hockey league.
Eventually he flew to Cleveland where they performed open heart surgery to fix his Aorta and is now ready to live a longer life. Why does the best surgeon for Aortic dissection work out of Cleveland? I have no idea but I’d love to ask him this question. Rumor has it that he does 500 of these surgeries a year with each surgery taking an average of five hours. Luckily he has a team who does all the prep work and he swoops in and performs his magic. Not everyone is going to survive. It is after all open heart surgery.
We we talked about luck. What if he had fallen asleep and had missed the eye symptom and never went to the emergency room? What if his emergency doctor had simply treated him as a minor stroke victim and hadn’t pressed for more tests? I thought of the people where these tests simply aren’t an option in our health care system.
Many people will never get those tests and will die of their unknown Aortic dissection. Supposedly 15,000 people die of Aortic dissection every year. Because of luck, our new friend will not be one of them.
This column doesn’t really have a point, but I continue to marvel at how luck plays such an important part in our lives.
Maybe one of you reading this has the condition but you’d never know until you die from it because a normal physical would never uncover it.
Some would say it wasn’t luck but that God played a part in this but that won’t play with me because…………Nah, I don’t want to go there today.
Anyway, I’m glad they fixed his condition. He’s a great parent, is raising a great kid, and the world will be a better place with him still in it.