Thursday 26 September 2013


"You'll understand when you're older."

I always hated when my parents said that.  When I was younger I refused to believe that older people could possibly know things that I didn't.  It just didn't make sense.  I was smart!  I knew everything!  I had wisdom beyond my years.  Right?

What I didn't understand is that anyone can open a book and learn facts.  But learning about how the world actually works can only be learned through experience.  And experience can only come with time.  The longer you survive on this wild, wacky planet, the more wisdom you gain. 

There are, unfortunately, exceptions to this rule.

The patient from my surgical training was older, in his early 70's.  He had the look of a university professor: unkempt white hair, 2-day old beard stubble, dark circles under his eyes, the smell of stale cigarettes and gin.  He was in the hospital for atherosclerosis of both his carotid artery and his coronary arteries and was teetering right on the brink of a heart attack, a stroke, or both.  He was scheduled first for a carotid endarterectomy (an operation to remove an atheromatous plaque from the wall of the carotid artery, thereby removing the blockage and reducing the risk of a stroke), and he was to have a coronary bypass surgery a few days later.  The carotid surgery was to be done first to prevent him from having a stroke during (or after) his bypass surgery.

His carotid surgery went very well, and I went to see him the following day to discuss his upcoming heart surgery.  But what greeted me was an empty room.  I continued on my rounds, figuring he was out taking a walk, getting a snack, or perhaps visiting with family in the reception area.

What I did not figure was that he had walked out of the hospital and gotten a taxi home so he could do a few lines of cocaine.  Apparently over his 70 years of life he never bothered to gain enough wisdom to figure out that cocaine is a very potent vasoconstrictor and can cause heart attacks, especially in people who are supposed to have coronary bypass surgery the next day.

Shockingly, he never made it back to the hospital.

No matter what you do, wisdom comes with age.  Everything you encounter and every experience you have adds to it. The problem is that w
isdom is just like money - it doesn't make a difference how much of it you have.  It is only valuable if you use it.


  1. Life mean different thing to different people. You want to be health and believe that is your happiness. Other, find life in those stuff you claim to be stupid.
    Life is for living. Everyone entitled to define how.
    Quality depend on your purpose.
    Then again I am young and naive.

    1. I am quite positive that it's not just a "claim" of stupidity. Any addict will tell you they would love to be sober. They just can't. So your point of living life to make you happy is not as correct as you proposed.

      I am also young, but not so dense as to think that cocaine is a choice worth some respect.


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