• Graham

Man “A” sits behind a desk, back lit by a late afternoon sky. Man “B” sits opposite.

It seems that a longish pause has ensued during which time the sun, appropriately if somewhat over-theatrically, has disappeared behind a bank of cloud.

Well, I suppose the sixty four thousand dollar question is – How long?

A steepling of fingers and a pursing of lips.

That rather depends. It obviously varies from individual to individual.

A further pause during which patient realises he’s no further forward and Medical Expert realises the ball is still in his court.

I’ve had a patient who only lasted a couple of months.

Metaphorical sun fades ever faster.

But, there again, I have another who is still alive after eleven years.

A faint glimmer of hope –

Mind you she’s been bed-ridden for some time ……… and really rather ill.

Yet further pause during which patient realises that this is the extent of the information that is likely to be forthcoming and the ball, such as it is, is now in his field of play.

Well, I suppose at my age, there are a good number of nasty things waiting in the wings that would have got me anyway.

Medical Expert visibly brightens.

Oh, if that were to happen, we’d regard it as a great success!

The illness that both parties have been skirting around is Group 2 Pulmonary hypertension which in simple terms seems to mean (at least as far as I could gather amongst the mnemonics, abbreviations and Latinate contortions) one side of the heart is weakening and thus unable to drive sufficient oxygen through the lungs. The net result: the muscles are starved of their fuel. The consequent outcome is breathlessness as the patient tries to compensate by taking in more air or - if the brain is sufficiently frustrated, or stupid, to try to over-ride this inadequacy by demanding a greater effort - a setting in of virtually paralysis. Or to put it another way, walking downhill is considerably easier than walking up.

The sixty four thousand dollar question was whether this was the end of seventy years of walking and climbing in the hills. The monthly BAGMAGS that follow will attempt to give the answer.

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