Pre-surgery and still feeling good

Disclaimer: From this point forward, all of the events I describe actually happened. I just can’t guarantee that they happened in the chronological order that I describe. Things got a bit hazy.

Wednesday morning arrived and I started getting ready for the busy day. Patti showed up and we talked briefly with the guy in the bed next to me and his wife. Turns out he had had a catheterization several years earlier and he gave me some encouragement. He also mentioned that after the procedure I would need to remain flat on my back for 6 hours while the puncture wound in my groin healed. Oh joy, something to look forward to.

Pretty soon a nurse came in to shave me. While I realized this moment was coming and was pretty much resigned to the inevitable, I was less than encouraged when she informed me that she normally didn’t work this floor and that this was her first time shaving someone. Great. Even though she was a rookie, it went pretty quickly. She told me that she had done only as much as was needed. So far, so good.

Eventually I was collected from the room and rolled down the hall to the “Cath Lab.” A quick kiss to Patti and I was rolled on in and placed on the table. The Cath Lab was not what I envisioned. It was, well, industrial is probably the best way to put it. Equipment everywhere, kind of dark …just not what I expected. There were three female nurses and one male. They were very friendly and I immediately felt at ease. They got me arranged on the table with some warm blankets (it was chilly in there) and started to get set up. Then one of them started to prep my groin. She called the others over to look at the crappy shave job the earlier nurse had performed and they all stood around and looked at my groin and laughed. This was the high point of my day.

Eventually they were ready and the doctor came in. We discussed what to expect and then they gave me a shot to make me happy and got to work. I don’t remember too much of the actual procedure but it wasn’t painful or uncomfortable at all. At the end, they wheeled the huge monitors so I could see them and showed me what they had found. And it wasn’t good. Severe blockage in several locations, including a 90% blockage in the left ventricle (which pumps 70% of the blood through the heart) and two other significant blockages. All of which meant no stents for me. I needed a triple bypass. Not good.

They wheeled me to the recovery area, picking up Patti on the way. There I was informed that they weren’t going to close the wound in my groin until the bypass surgeon, who is different than the cath surgeon, gave his OK. The great nurses in recovery made me as comfortable as possible (under the circumstances), but being unable to move was no fun. They finally (4 hours later) got the OK to close my wound. Sewn up, I was wheeled back to my room. I was still facing 6 hours of no movement. Crap.

My roommate and his wife was still there, although he was being sent home that night. When they heard I was facing a triple bypass they were sympathetic and offered to join me in prayer. I thanked them, told them I appreciated it, but I was a Buddhist and would not be joining them.

I spent a VERY long day flat on my back. Patti was with me much of the time but she was in and out, particularly when I dozed. Late in the day, my neighbors were visited by a prayer group. I was dozing, but I heard them quietly talking, including “mumble mumble Buddhist mumble.” Shortly after that I was startled awake by one of them coming over to talk to me – offering once again to pray for me. I again politely declined the offer and closed my eyes. They went into the hall where I believe they did their thing for me. While I’m sure they had the best of intentions, waking a recovering patient seems an odd way to go about it.

At 10:00 that night I was finally allowed to get up. It felt great! I spent 45 minutes just standing around — me & my pole of meds and monitors. My bypass was scheduled for 6:30 sharp the next morning and while I wasn’t scared, I was a bit nervous about the whole process. Which began at 11:00 PM.

Next: I’m shaved from stem to stern, my chest is cracked and I spend a horrible couple of hours unable to breath.