In writing about my upcoming heart surgery for IndyScribe, I stumbled across some information during research that is really disturbing, and may change my mind about having open-heart surgery. According to research, being on a heart and lungs machine during the operation can cause “cognitive decline” in 42% of patients — in other words, brain damage. Given the number of medical resources quoting the study, it appears to be a valid one.
Given this, I’m not sure I want to have the surgery this way. I’d rather go some other route than risk the possibility of losing any of my mental ability. If that means insisting on a less-invasive procedure or foregoing surgery altogether, I’m going to consider those options.
UPDATE: I talked to my surgeon Doctor Beckman’s assistant, Michelle, this morning about this. She said that there isn’t a way to do mitral valve surgery without using the heart & lungs machine, which I guess I could have figured out on my own. (Duh; they have to stop my heart to cut into it, whereas with bypass surgeries they can sometimes avoid that.) She also pointed out that the studies were done on heart bypass patients who had clogged arteries, and that is thought to have had an effect on their situation. Also, the amount of time I will be on the machine is shorter, and they won’t have to cool me down as far or as long, which are also contributing factors. The other factors are that I’m very young to be having this surgery, and that I have advanced cognitive abilities now, which means my risk of losing them is much less than for people who are older and less educated.
I felt a lot better after talking to her. I’m still going to be doing logic puzzles and math stuff after the surgery, though, because now I’m paranoid.
Michelle also said she was very happy that I’m researching information about my surgery online, and that they wished more patients would do that. Heh. I didn’t mention that I’m also WRITING about it online. I should tell them that. Especially since if you Google “Dr. Daniel Beckman” my website comes up at the very top of the list. Hee hee. I wonder if he ever googles himself?