Many years ago I lived in Wellington, Somerset, England, where I worked as a young veterinarian. In fact, one of my latest Veterinary Tales, ‘Pride Cometh Before A Fall,’ was based upon an experience on a farm whilst I was working in the Wellington practice. It seems such a long time ago, so I looked on the Internet for a photograph of the Wellington of Today, and it looks to be just the same quaint old place that I remember. Interestingly and I think by chance, my brother, Trevor, has set up residence there, and he tells me of his walks up to the monument. When I think back, those were good times, and I was young and excited about life. I subsequently moved away to Scotland to enter sheep diseases research, enjoyed a long and successful career as a veterinary pathologist, from whence I just retired 40 years later.
This retirement is really a move forward into a new and exciting life as a neophyte businessman and entrepreneur, trying to create jobs for others in my community. This change was sparked, in part at least, by my diagnosis of a life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) at the age of 67, which as a result of fear triggered my blogging career. This has changed my life, and largely for the better, but I am extremely lucky to be alive. Unbeknownst to me, the seeds of that aneurysm were already in place in my genome (genetic code of Kevin Morgan) all those years ago in Wellington. It turns out that a gene has been found to be associated with this often-fatal condition, which paves the way for the development of tests for the prediction of AAA risk, in order to ensure appropriate screening of genetically threatened individuals. I was fortunate to detect my aneurysm before it burst, and to have a prompt repair with a stent graft. The stories of less fortunate individuals are recorded on the AAA Awareness Facebook page.
To show how fate has smiled upon me, here I am completing the Lake Placid Ironman, 2011, at the age of 68 with the aid of my Cook Zenith stent graft protecting my abdominal aortic aneurysm from rupture, which would have been followed by my rapid demise.
Interestingly, there is an AAA screening program in place in the UK, whilst, with respect to this condition, no such forward thinking exists in the USA. Americans can have a screen carried out for about $100 if they so wish, which two of my sons (38 and 42 years of age) have elected to do. The problem with health screening is that one has to be aware that the screen exists, and raising such awareness is an ongoing problem as, like myself during the 2010 Lake Placid Ironman race, most people have little or no awareness of the condition. Raising such awareness is an important task for those of us fortunate enough to survive.