Sunday, March 09, 2008

Medtronic Customer

I’d like to report that I chose the ICD (Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator) that’s currently in my left “subclavian” space. I did not.

That task fell to Alex Drtil, the cardiologist who installed it this past Thursday morning, Of the “Big Three” companies involved in cardiac pacing and defibrillation, Medtronic was his choice...probably because it was before noon and the weather was cloudy. (Medtronic, like the others, doesn’t much advertise to its prospective patients except in the vaguest ways.)

Woowhee! I got me a Medtronic VirtuosoTM tachyarrhythmia management system complete with ConnexusTM wireless telemetry – so many trademarks on the Medtronic website you’d think every Tom, Dick and Harry was in the pacemaker business…and that cardiologists actually remember all these trade names. I doubt it.

I did work on Medtronic business years and years ago, in Minnesota. Then the big problem was getting cardiologists to select a brand name out of the (then) dozen or so pacemakers available. Now, there’s even a Medtronic sales technician in the cath lab with the implantation team, monitoring the performance of the ICD over what I suppose is Connexus wireless.

This same, very pleasant young woman became a little confused when I asked her if I could use the ICD’s WiFi capability for my own laptop. When she confessed that the Virtuoso unit did not allow for this, I asked about the coupons.

“Coupons?” she responded blankly. “Yes,” I replied strongly. “I’m sure I read that Medtronic was offering its customers half-price dinners and suchlike in coupon booklets if they had one of its units installed. Don’t you know about the coupon program?” She admitted she didn’t know anything about coupons and retired to her console in confusion. (I apologized to her the next day when she stopped by my palatial medical suite to check the unit – again via the Connexus system. I’d like to think she’s checked with the Medtronic marketing people about the coupon book.)

I was pretty much awake during the entire procedure though I couldn’t see anything – they’d draped my head in a tent-like structure. Possibly so I couldn’t see that the doctor was actually implanting a used crankcase cam from a 1948 Chrysler boat engine in my chest. At least, that what I thought he told me. But the procedure went smoothly. I’d like to thank everyone in the room (including me for not screaming like a little girl). The procedure went smoothly – despite the fact that I was wearing a strobe light on my head throughout the entire procedure.

You see, I attended the Subsea Tieback Forum in Galveston earlier in the week. While visiting with Esmeralda McLeane and Tom Taylor at the WellDynamics booth, they gave me this nifty, hang-around-your-neck colored strobe light with the company name on it – I told them I’d wear it for the operation.

So I did. Barbara attached it to my forehead with a piece of tape and I switched it on while the nurses were wheeling me into the cath lab. I told them, “It’s my connection with the higher ethereal plane – I won’t need anesthesia, you see.” I could tell this wasn’t entirely believed. But the cardiologist took one look at it, burst out laughing and told me I had to wear it throughout the entire procedure. Afterwards, he took a cellphone picture of it and if he shares it with me, you’ll see it here eventually.

So extra thanks to WellDynamics for the laugh – higher plane or not, it works just as well as the Medtronic Virtuoso ICD with Connexus wireless telemetry. And I bet it cost a whole lot less.

Next post: “Exploring Subclavian Space with Captain Kirk and the Crew of the Starship Enterprise.”


Beryt Nisenson said...

Six days without a shower? Geez!!! Well, at least you'll have a healthy ticker. Hugs for a speedy recovery.

Terry LeFebvre said...

Richard, I hope everything goes well and that you are feeling well real soon.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

BTW, Dr. Drtil is just one on my cardiologists - he specializes in the electrical side. Pretty nice guy, good bedside manner; stands a meter-ninety-eight or so; and hangs out with Houston Arrhythmia Associates, 915 Gessner Road, Suite 585, Houston 77024.

My original cardiologist (the plumber), Stu Jacobson, calls Alex "vowel-deprived."

Melanie Levine said...

Not everyone has their own personal cardioelectrician. Glad you are doing better - it has, obviously, not affected your sense ofhumor!

Guess we won't invite you to any HSIG meetings since you are not showering. Bet you are glad this didn't happen in August.

Laura said...

That's fantastic! Glad you are recovering nicely. I'm sure WiFi connectivity and the coupon book will be available've gotta get something out of this whole fiasco, right?