Dear members! – a member talk is meant to be a self-portrait or image of your personality or the business you are in. To be honest, this is not my favourite subject! So apart from personal data and my career I decided to tell something about what i realised as being medical progress between the 80`s until i ended up as being a Cardiologist at the end of my career in 2019.
I am one of the many baby boomers, born in 1960 as second child, my sister is 6 years elder than me. I grew up in a little town in North-Rine-Westfalia called Bad Oeynhausen. After WWII this has been the headquarter of the British-Rhine-Armee. I grew up in a rather konservative, formally catholic surrounding, school was almost fun, and I practised a lot of tennis. My father – as having been an active soldier of the Wehrmacht in WWII had to leave the university and became a salesman.
My mother came from a doctor’s family but had been given up her medical studies once she married, at the age of 40 she started a new education as being a careers advisor at the job center. And I remember my parents had to struggle hard to get their income. My grandfathers work and personality impressed me very much, he worked as a general practitioner until the age of 80 in a small town and always went for house visits together with his dog as a “co-pilot”, sometimes I could join them! So, my wish trying to become a doctor arose….
It`s still very hard to get a place as medical student, my mother got the idea of going to the army for 15 years – including study at the university. I was very lucky to pass the tests and started in 1979 at the uni Bochum, after the first exam then clinical studies in Bonn.
During the university holidays I had to undergo the army career and I had to realize a lot about the way of thinking and the logic of military actions. I felt ashamed of having sold my soul for getting the possibility to study. It was the hot period of the peace movement (Friedensbewegung, Pershing II and IPPNW). But there seemed to be no way out, or at least it took until the final exams until I outed myself as not being able to work as a military doctor within the army. But it took another 2 years working as a nurse and in a Labatory until they let me go after several months to be examined in an army psychiatry department in Koblenz.
And it wasn`t easy to find a job with this very special history. On the other hand, I was very lucky to happen to know Christiane in Bonn at the ophthalmic course – our duty was to look into each others eye background! Makes everybody smile! We live together in Bremen since 1985, married after I left the army in 1987. We have got 3 sons who are now already 32, 29 and the youngest 27.
I was always most interested in internal medicine, started in an habour clinic in Bhv in 1988, then changed nearer by to Bremen doing the 6 years fellowship. To be honest it took me longer, during that time I also worked in a haemodialysis and oncology department. We also performed high-dosis chemotherapy with autologous bone-marrow-transplantation. In 2000 I had to decide what speciality within internal medicine to achieve. Oncology is a mentally hard job to stand, I´ve seen so many young people suffering – the whole family.
At the age of 40 I got the chance to work in the cardiology department. I think the chief wanted to have somebody in his departement who had more experience in general internal medicine. Heart and kidney are a great subject.
I had to realize that working in a cardiology department is much more focused on tempo and fulfilling your daily rush of patients going in and out. After having done the routine work, I got the chance to learn doing heart cathererism. Since 2003 I worked as senior physician being responsible for emergency admission and intensive care. I also learned how to implant cardiac pacemakers and took part in 24/7h on call Service for the Cathlab.
This is really the most satisfying job I have ever done. When I started in the late 80´s we took the patients with acute MI to the ITS and just gave them analgetics, ASS, Nitroglyzerin and Electrolytes. We then had to decide which patient seemed to be eligable for a Lysis, the effort to try to resolve the thrombus clotted in the coronary artery. It was still under discussion because a lysis could lead to serious and live threatening bleeding events. But there were some more years to come with other studies before it became somehow routine. But only half of the patients really had a long-term benefit of this risky procedure.
Coronary angioplasty and Stenting (PTCA) were first done in Zürich in 1977 by Andreas Grüntzig. Beginning in the early 90`s it was established as routine for easy treatible lesions. Cardiac surgery was safer and for a long period had better longterm results. But it took until the end of the 20th century until a routine Infarkt-PTCA was established. That means nowadays the patient with typical changes in the ECG or having had a cardiac arrest and cardiac shock are brought to the Cathlab. Optimum timing is live saving, “time is muscle”. After recanalisation and stenting of the infarct vessel the patient is immediately free of pain and sometimes asks: “when can I get home?”
In the 80`s infarct patients were put to bed almost 4 weeks and today we let them home after 3 or 4 days with Reha afterwards. Normaly they can return to work after 6 weeks.
I felt most satisfied with my work in a exciting team, teaching students and nurses etc. until in 2007 a new chief physician forced me and 6 of my collegues to leave the hospital. As Christiane meanwhile built up her surgery -apart from managing the kids and household-we decided that I could work half-time in a surgery in ROW. Henry and Paul still went to school, and I tried my best to do the housework etc.
The first weeks in the new surgery were really challenging, like being a student again! To find the right hint to the diagnosis within the Patients history and with little diagnostics is different compared to hospital setting with all the laboratory help. During this time, I continued working for the Infarct center at night and the weekends. I have even worked as a doctor on an old cruiseship for 2 months.
When our youngest son Paul left school, I got a chance to become junior-partner of a huge Praxis of Cardiology within the Bremen-heart-Center. So, I returned to my old colleagues and working place, but no longer being part of the hospital team. This felt quite good! Meanwhile I had learned how to have a good contact with patients within my little timeslot and this was most satisfying in combination with the continuing work in the cath-lab.
In 2015 I suffered from an infarction of the left eye, could not see three dimensional any longer. this changed a lot. I tried to get along, we have made our business plan and since 2019 I´m glad to be a “jubilado” on the island. At least we have been very lucky to sell our business before the pandemic.