Wednesday, September 16, 2015


I think I have tried this two other times but, for the life of me, I am unable to find the previous attempts.  One of the efforts is very clear in my mind because my only instrument for writing was my iPad – but the document isn’t there or on my cloud drive or anywhere else.  So I am giving it another try.  If this never appears – well then I really am losing my mind.

Most are probably aware that late in August Teresa and I visited the local emergency room because she was worried there was some great failure in my physical self.  After innumerable hours of testing and prodding, the ER doctors found that I was reasonable healthy for a 60 yr. old man and sent me home.  There only condition was that I attend a little festival designed to stress out old guys (ok, it wasn’t a festival, but it sounds better that way).  With those instructions, we delivered ourselves at home and went about our normal business.

Monday and Tuesday I went to work, as usual, and favored my classes with – well I can’t actually remember what we did.  Right after classes on Tuesday Teresa led me off for testing at the hospital cardiac campus.  It was all so lovely and delightful – until they indicated they were injecting me with enzymes and other things to simulate what it would be like to exercise vigorously.  There was an immediate change in my demeanor, my pain level shot up to 1 Billion (slightly exaggerated), and the doctors were very concerned (not enough to stop the pain, but enough to indicate that I could not go home).  Our schedule was changed and Teresa and I were given accommodations for the evening (but for some reason, we had to pay – it wasn’t my idea to stay the night) with instructions to wait for further testing the next morning.  In a macabre sort of way it was rather exciting!!

The next morning, doctors did what they do the very best – instructed us to wait until they were ready to honor us with their presence.  They were actually pretty nice about it but their time schedule and mine seldom seem to coincide.  The intent was to do an angiogram so they could put stents in two blockages they discovered the previous day.  Sadly, when the stents were attempted, there was no room for them “at the inn.”  The blockages were so substantial that stents would do little or nothing to help with my problems. 

My only hospital 'selfie' -- pre surgery.

So guess what the next step was?? 

You guessed it!!!
It was now time for
Mr. Bypass

Or better yet – two Mr. Bypasses!!!

How lucky can one guy get!! J

In my case, pretty dang lucky.

There are three main arteries that feed blood to the heart.  The two largest in my heart were clogged with a lifetime of gunk (mostly created by heredity and excessive ice cream consumption) and there was little blood getting into the heart through them.  The third artery was doing his job and had even found a way to create a little ‘bypass’ friend of his own – thank you little artery ally!!

Since we weren’t on the regular scheduled list for the ‘rack’ of surgery, we had to wait for a spot to open up.  Turns out we got to be the second case in on Friday, Sept. 4 which meant I would go just after lunch. 

Just as I was being wheeled away for surgery
Those who have spent time in a hospital know how lovely it can be to have constant attention to your every need.  There are wonderful nurses who are always checking on you and injecting/drawing liquids to/from your body (for no real purpose except to see how many times they can do it in one 24 hour period).  And then there are the ‘almost’ nurses who’s every refrain begins with  “let’s get your vitals” even though they or someone just like them was in the room doing the exact same thing eight minutes ago.  But truthfully, everyone is so kind and works so hard to make you happy – all the while reminding you that you need to get plenty of rest so you will be prepared for your surgery.

Cool socks, leg circulators, and other stuff
I don’t remember the surgeon attending my soiree (but that might be because I am very susceptible to anesthesia and was out like a dead man) but he left his marks all over my body.  There were incisions on my left arm (where they harvested an artery to use for the bypass), on my right arm (where the ARTLine was installed for the convenience of all involved), and all over my chest and belly (which was considerably smaller after three days of hospital food)
I was also much less hairy – but we will leave that story to another day!

My first recollections were of nurses poking me and asking me my name and birthday (which I must have given at least 100 times – doesn’t anyone ever write things down in the medical business?).  There wasn’t much pain but I think that can be attributed to powerful friendly drugs.  But there was an unusual growth coming out of my right shoulder area that was VERY annoying!  It felt like I had another head attached to me and I would often talk to it in the night. 

The whole hospital thing was long and drawn out (though necessary) but finally came to an end and I was allowed to go home – I think it was Thursday but I’m not completely sure.  I only know I was very relieved to get home and into my own bed. 

Yep, that's exactly how I felt!!
Recovery continues to take up most of my time but I am finally getting around and acting pretty normal (or at least as I can be).  The plan is to recuperate for a few weeks and then move on to something that is way more fun.  Going back to work would be my favorite right now.  (BTW, I stopped by on Monday to visit and was worn out in 15 minutes. Maybe just a little more recovery)

My biggest battle is controlling my mind with the drugs they have given me.  There have been some weird visions (drowning in the bottom of a pool full of spiders – and I’m not afraid of arachnids) and some interesting dreams (talking to folks in the temple) and even a few conversations while Teresa was in the room with people not there.  Anything to keep life interesting.

Overall, the whole experience has been enlightening.  I am beginning to feel my mortality a little more, but I am also grateful that there are people who can fix defective bodies.  It would not surprise me to feel MUCH better in a few months because I have been running on such a low volume of blood to my heart.  Maybe now my boys won’t stop me from going hiking with them.  And maybe I will feel like instigating the hike myself. 

I suppose I should stop here and get this posted before I lose it again.  One day all this will be (PICK ONE: inspiring, frightening, hilarious, disturbing) you choose which seems most appropriate.

Thanks for reading.  I believe I will be around for another year or two with all the changes I have encountered.  Hope to see you all real soon.

Had to pretend to be happy so they would
let me go home.  That blue thing is my nemesis!
I have to suck air through that or no one is happy.


Kay Harris said...

Thank you for bringing us up date. I am glad you're doing well.
Mom Kay

Craig Reay said...

The hard part is done...keep walking, a little more each day, Don't let your mind get the best of you at 2am when you are wide awake and on the verge of freaking out at what just happened to you. The first month is awful, the second better, the third super. You'll feel all sorts of weird stuff happening in your chest, don't be alarmed, it's just the healing process. Your chest will feel wired and weird for months, I still have issues 2 1/2 years later! I've had two emergency room visits since surgery, feeling like I did before I had it...your mind will convince you that you are clogged again at some point, but you are probably fine. You probably won't ever do a perfect pushup again or bench press 200 lbs. your chest won't let you. All in all, it's amazing that you can survive something like this, 50 years ago you and I would have just died of a massive coronary! Read, watch movies, keep your mind busy. Eventually, all the pain and suffering will be but a distant (bad) memory. Better cut back on the ice-cream though!