Friday, August 17, 2007

Affairs of the Heart pt 3

The last week of June 2005 and I was scheduled for Monday morning heart surgery. I got through all the pre-op stuff (including blood drawing - and I hate needles) and surgery prep the week before. The night before surgery my wife and I stayed in a room the hospital rents for heart-patients' families so they can be nearby the hospital. I don't either of us got much sleep that night - worrying about the next day. I guess for me, though, it was not so bad - I'd be out for most of it. In the morning just as the son was coming up, they wheeled me into surgery, stuck me about three times in the arm to get the IV and anastesia going, and then it was off to la-la-land. I didn't wake up until eight hours later in recovery, very much out of it for quite some time late into that evening.

My wife, my parents and my in-laws were able to visit me in ICU that night. They couldn't stay long but I most likely wasn't a lot of company anyway. With all the tubes, monitors and such - I probably looked like a science experiment (felt like one at times too). I really didn't feel too concerned about much but sleeping anyway until early Tuesday morning. Then realization of things kind of started to sink back in.

They got me to a room on Tuesday around noon. I was actually feeling hungry at this point, a good sign. But, it's crawl before walk you know. Start with ice chips, then liquids if those stayed down. Oh, but the walking would come very soon. By late that evening, I was ready for my wife to help me take my first walk around the ward.

After that, it was going down the checklist of all the things you have to do (or get done) before you can be released. Man, that couldn't come fast enough as far as I was concerned. When they have to come in every two hours and prick your finger to check your blood, you start to run out of fingers fast. Did I tell you I hate needles? Yeah, I did. Even those quick little ones. By Thursday noon they felt I was ready to head home, and I totally agreed. The TV viewing options stunk in the hospital, as did the food. I've never been a hospital fan anyway - ever since my first stay in one as a kid when I was four years old.

Because the surgery was non-evasive (using lapriscopic tools to repair my broken valve and to put a ring in my heart), they didn't have to crack open my rib-cage. Instead I had three or four smaller incisions for them to get in and do what they had to do. That's good because cracking the rib-cage usually means two months recovery where as what I had done meant a much quicker recovery time. The bad news is the lapriscopic is supposed to be more painful initially - but I didn't see that (or I honestly suppressed a lot of it). I plowed through my mandatory pain pills as fast as needed (did I tell you that I hate taking pills? And these were the horse variety - huge!) but I hardly used the ones they prescribed for after getting home. I guess I was really motivated to recover and move on.

Being home certainly helped as well (home is way better than any old hospital). I got to recline in the family room for most of the daytime - catching up on DVD's or working on my laptop (or just napping). My wife made sure I had my pills, any water I might need, had good food, etc. By the time I was home for a week, we were up to walking a mile at a shot (they want you to get your exercise level up to help your heart get strong again). By the end of the second week after surgery, my wife was able to go to the office for a few hours to work (rather than working from home).

Oh, and back to the job front - I called them back after I was home and told them I was still interested. Since I was not allowed to drive for nearly a month after my surgery (and really wasn't to be in the car for super long stretches of time - the combination of sitting too long and the seatbelt weren't comfortable), they agreed to meet us halfway for a second interview (the job location was three hours across the state). We were still in the car coming back home from that interview when the person I was talking to all the while asked if we would up for arranging an in-office interview for the end of July. Needless to say, I was very excited and said yes. We did that third interview at the end of the month (my wife driving me, of course - that allowed her to check out the area should I take the job).

Once I visted my cardiologist in the beginning of August and he cleared me for returning to work, I went back to my first employer and finished my last few days. I then was able to accept the offer from my interviewer so I could start working for them. By the end of August, they had me set up in temporary housing while we started the whole relocation process (they would help us sell our home and would move all of our stuff as well as part of the hiring package). My wife finished up a few things with her job, got the house ready to be shown with the realtors, and then she and my son moved as well in late October.

As for my heart - now two years later, all is well. I had my annual visit with a cardiologist on Tuesday of this week. He said the echosonagram done that day showed the same as last year - meaning everything still looks great. So other than the usual watching of the diet and getting in some exercise to lose a few pounds, I'm good for another year.

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