Thursday 28th October 1993 Morning surgery 10:30

“How are you Mr Rowlands?”
“He’s not bad, doctor. His breathing is better.” Mrs Rowlands sat attentively beside her husband.
“Yes, they increased my water tablets while I was in hospital. That seems to have helped.”
Dr Lewis looked directly at Mr Rowlands with a very concerned expression. “I see you’ve got an aortic aneurysm.”
“Yes, they did a scan to look at my liver and they spotted it. I’ve not been having any symptoms.”
“The aorta is our main blood vessel,” Dr Lewis explained to us. “It runs from the heart through the chest and abdomen and then divides up into the iliac arteries which supply our legs with blood. As you get older, the walls of the aorta can become weak and it can swell or bulge.”
“My aneurysm is 7 cm in diameter,” said Mr Rowlands. “The aorta should be less than 3 cm. They wanted to operate but, because of my heart condition, they thought there was a good chance that I wouldn’t survive. I don’t want major surgery at my age, anyway.”
“He is 87 after all!” Mrs Rowlands said.
“I am afraid that this aneurysm is likely to keep getting bigger,” said Dr Lewis. “At some stage, it will almost certainly burst.”
“It will be curtains for me, then”, said Mr Rowlands. “I’ll be gone in a flash.”
“Don’t say that, Dai.”
“It’s true, Liz. At least, it will be quick. That’s what Mr Thomas said. He was the vascular surgeon that came to see me. He was quite direct.”
“He said you were sitting on a time bomb,” Elizabeth Rowlands looked anxiously at us.
“I am. I’m sitting on a time bomb.”
“You are being very brave,” said Dr Lewis.
“I am doing my best,” said Dai Rowlands. “I am frightened but I am trying not to think too much about what’s likely to happen.”

Sitting on a time bomb.