I’m Having Open Heart Surgery on Monday
Update: My surgeon called at 3 PM, there’s a complication that needs addressed before he’ll go forward. Surgery has been rescheduled to June 24th.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen. — Source: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep – Wikipedia
It’s funny how the simplest, perhaps longest and best remembered prayers can bring us the most comfort. I’ve recited the one above while lying in bed trying to assess what was going on in my chest more than once over the last several weeks. As I began trying to sort out why my wellness and sense of well being had tanked so quickly and dramatically this past year, or so, the refrain from doctors was uncomfortably similar and confounding: if you get short of breath, stop what you’re doing and if you have any chest pain at all, call 911 immediately.
My natural, yet mostly unvoiced response was also the same … Did they teach you that shit in medical school?
Actually, my experiences with doctors in recent months have been terrific and so far I’m thrilled with the health system I’m getting ready to entrust with my life. But enough with the overly dramatic, self-indulgent ( ie old school blogger) telling of this tale. I wanted to make this unusually personal post so my many friends and acquaintances made over ten-plus years out here would know what’s what with me.
In February I had an eye stroke, which sounds worse than what it is, at least in my case. The impact was negligible. But it was a sign to look for an underlying cause, or problem.
Doctors then found that what had long been a minor heart murmur had become extremely pronounced. An EKG came up abnormal and I was sent for an Echocardiogram. That’s when the fun began. I could tell by the way the tech’s demeanor changed at the end that something wasn’t right. It’s also the second time I heard the, if you get short of breath … warning.
Three hours later I had an email from my primary care doctor via the health system’s web application: “Your ECHO revealed severe stenosis of the main valve , given your symptoms, surgery may need to be considered soon. I suggest cardiology evaluation before surgical referral”.
In fact, I had a call from the health system with an appointment with a heart surgeon even before I saw the cardiologist. Someone was in a hurry it seemed.
Within the last week the cardiologist said the blood flow out of my heart was down “to a trickle.” The valve specialist who oversaw my heart catheterization on Wednesday said the valve is one of, if not the worst she’s ever seen. I won’t claim to understand it but she spoke in terms of pressure and differential between the two sides of a valve. The higher the number the worse it is.
Evidently a differential of 40% is serious – mine is 90%. The great news is they said my cardiac arteries are in “awesome” shape with no heart disease. Frankly, that floored me in a good way having previously been a smoker and with my family history. Given those factors I’m told the stage is set for me to feel better than I have in many years after recovering from an admittedly tough procedure. They do have to do the whole open heart routine.
But the problem seems to be limited to the aortic valve … which is also bicuspid and likely a birth defect that catches up to people as they age.
Asked for a prognosis without surgery, the surgeon said I had 2, maybe 3 relatively unproductive (due to illness) years to live at best before I died of congestive heart failure in that scenario. Given all that, this is a must do, not a choice. I go into the Geisinger Hospital for Advanced Medicine Monday at 5:30 AM for the surgery and should be there from 5 – 7 days. The way it sounds, I may be back at least on Twitter and eventually writing at Breitbart sooner than one might think. They do amazing stuff today.
In hindsight, this likely had at least something to do with what happened three years ago via Instapundit.
Along with family and friends in R/L, I greatly appreciate the many friends and colleagues I’ve made and met out here over the years and wanted to let folks know what’s what. Any positive thoughts and, or prayers will be more than appreciated. Believe me.
One last bit of irony, given the odds, I was closer to death 3 years ago given the 50/50 odds they gave me in the ER. But I was somehow less scared. Go figure.
Along with everything else and many of you, I suspect I know what I’ll be thinking as they put me under in preparation for surgery on Monday.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take, Amen.
Thanks for reading and God Bless. I hope to see ya soon!