Author + information
- Spencer B. King III, MD, MACC, Editor-in-Chief, JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions∗ ()
- ↵∗Address correspondence to:
Spencer B. King III, MD, MACC, Saint Joseph’s Heart and Vascular Institute, 5665 Peachtree Dunwoody Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30342.
Paris in the springtime—can it get any better than this? Well, actually, I realized that it could as I dashed in the rain from my hotel to various venues of the EuroPCR meeting. But, the week was mostly clear, and the conference was a big success as usual. The international character of the event is evident, as the organization has established beachheads in many countries even outside of Europe. This is much like the American College of Cardiology (ACC) international chapters and the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions’ push for international membership. It reminds me of the missionary activity of the 19th century. Fortunately, much of the outreach of these organizations is based on bidirectional exchange of information and technology, rather than “converting the natives.” One of my rewarding activities at EuroPCR was a session that I was asked to moderate involving fellows-in-training. A single case was presented using a “Live-in-a-Box” video and was dominated by wide-ranging discussions and questions by the participants. One and one-half hours went quickly by, and the discussions continued in the hallway long after the session.
This format allows the integration of clinical evidence and guideline recommendations with real-life situations. It is a giant heart team approach that may be further improved by including the actual patient. This is something to think about.
One evening, we had a very productive meeting of the JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions editorial board and frequent authors. I filled them in on some of the new things taking place in the JACC family of journals, and their input was valuable as well. I was particularly proud to learn that one of our associate editors, Stephan Windecker, will assume the leadership of the European Society of Cardiology organization of interventional cardiologists, the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions, to succeed Jean Fajadet. Stephan tells me that he wants to help build bridges between the European organization and the ACC, a worthy goal that I have always advocated. There are many opportunities for EuroPCR, ACC, and other organizations to collaborate, but some competition in spreading interventional expertise and experience is not a bad thing.
After the EuroPCR symposium and the rain in Paris were over, my wife said that she wanted to go to the beach. No, not that kind of beach—Utah Beach. It was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and with a World War II–era father, Gail insisted that we drive to Normandy. I, having experienced some of the pain of war, have never been excited about celebrating it. She said, “We are going,” and indeed, we were. We booked a room in a small tavern that was right on the beach. From there, I could see the sweep of the entire coastline and the cliffs behind. At low tide, the beach is extremely wide. The perfect clear day we arrived made it difficult to reconstruct the scene on June 6, 1944, when, in less placid seas, 150,000 troops from the United States, Britain, and Canada stormed the shore, and German canon and machine gun fortifications gave fields of fire that completely covered the beach. Now, many of them remain in the memorial cemeteries, where white markers stretch almost as far as the eye can see. As we were there, preparations were being made for the 70th anniversary event, with expectations that Queen Elizabeth, Barack Obama, and even Vladimir Putin would attend. It is easy to see a bit of “Disney” in the various museums, but this is not revisionist history. These things actually happened, and for many of the men who participated, it was the greatest moment of their lives. They faced imminent danger, they were victorious, and they were celebrated as the “greatest generation,” Since then, it has not always been that way.
Despite the pristine scene from the cliffs above Omaha and Utah Beaches, the fear, suffering, and accomplishments of that day are well worth trying to comprehend. Being present at this place, it is impossible not to be awe-struck by the commitment these young people embraced.
As we drove back to Paris and we entered the massive roundabout that is the Porte Maillot, I found myself in a traffic snarl that I had never experienced before. With 10 lanes deep but with no lanes or discernable direction, drivers were intent on intimidating each other to gain a few inches of progress. My fear, anger, and adrenalin levels rose. The challenge seemed great. I did not face death, but the prospect of dents or scratches on my new rental Peugeot was stimulus enough. One-half hour later, as I emerged victorious to let Gail off at the hotel, I was exhilarated. Not quite like those soldiers who, almost 70 years ago and a few blocks away, marched down the Champs Élysées under the Arc de Triomphe, but I was pleased to have run the gauntlet without a scratch.
Today, we often fail to realize how optimistic we should be. I did not hear expressions of pessimism about the future of medicine from the fellows-in-training I met with at the EuroPCR. Often, colleagues provide the depressing advice to young people to avoid medicine and look for more lucrative endeavors. Medicine, for those of you still in the “trenches,” is hard, but the cause is noble and the rewards of the grateful patient and a chance to help build a better system remain great.
Medicine is not a day at the beach. But, it is also not that day at Omaha Beach. Hopefully, the greatest generation will still be ahead of us.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation