Visit to the hospital

Say what you will about the provincial health care system, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute is terrific.  I speak on this occasion more precisely of the pacemaker clinic at 40 Ruskin Street, Ottawa. I now visit that office every year about this time to have my Biotronik pacemaker checked by a specialist nurse who afterwards reviews the data with a physician. To date – that is, since the implantation of the pacemaker in 2018 in Florida following a spill from my bike on the beach – the tiny device continues to churn.  The report today was that I have about 8 years left before the batteries run out.  Naturally I will not repeat the quips that the staff has heard all too often following the likes of that pronouncement!

Late afternoon on Saturday, February 10th I arrived at Halifax Health on the cargo bed of a red beach ambulance with a black eye dressed in my sandy bicycle togs and plastic blue Crocs. My bicycle was nowhere to be seen.

We sometimes forget how fragile we are. Today while awaiting the nurse to call my name I considered what tensile fabrics we are in spite of our eggshell constitution.

BIOTRONIK began with the development of the first German implantable pacemaker (Biotronik IP-03) in 1963. The pacemaker was developed at the Technical University of Berlin by physicist Max Schaldach (1936–2001), a professor of biomedical technology at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), and electrical engineer Otto Franke. In the early years, the company worked to improve pacemaker’s capacity and battery life, and secure the connections among electrodes, pacemaker, and the heart. Since its start, more than 19 million BIOTRONIK devices in over 100 countries have been implanted.

As I am certain you know there is a grainy thread of popular medical conversation which contradicts the ever-increasing effort to prolong life. I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have escaped the scythe of the Grim Reaper thanks to medical advances.  Otherwise I would likely have been estimated an old horse ready to be put down and out of misery.

Personally my biggest complaint about the Ottawa Hospital is the condensed arrangement for parking. Also as a country bumpkin I am unaccustomed afterwards to having to walk so far to get where I am going. Nonetheless once installed in the dark waiting lounge (separated from the next chair by plexiglass) things transpired on-time (which is no small compliment from some professional attendances).