Just over a year ago I went to see my cardiologist for a heart check up. Twelve years ago I had a mild heart attack and subsequently I routinely see my cardiologist for a review of my heart condition. In addition I have been a diabetic for more than forty years and diabetics are known for having heart problems due to fluctuating blood sugars.
My routine check up was six months late. Prior to the appointment I had my blood drawn to measure relevant issues that indicate heart conditions. Upon arrival for my appointment I had a electrocardiograph done and an echo-cardiogram both of which provide details of how well the heart functions are performing.
After the exams I sat in the waiting room waiting for the results. Then the nurse came out and said “the doctor is ready for you”….. My cardiologist is a teaching doctor whom likes to explain all the details of his exam and what the details indicate. We’ve become friends over the last 15 years and I always enjoy learning from him with exception of this visit…..
The doctor came right out and showed me the test results and the pictures were obvious. He asked “what do you see?”. I said “this valve seems to be moving slow and these arteries looked clogged. He replied “Yes, your aortic valve is failing and yes you have two clogged arteries, one on the left and one on the right. We’ve been watching these for sometime but now they need treatment and as soon as possible. I replied what treatment and when?’. He replied “Open heart surgery to replace your aortic valve and do two artery by-passes. I suggest we get you into the hospital as soon as I can get it scheduled with one of the top surgeons at Vanderbilt Hospital.”
Within two weeks I was scheduled for surgery. The surgeon told my wife and I this would be routine. It would take about five hours for the surgery and you’ll be home in five days. You’ll feel a lot better than you have in years and if your cardiologist hadn’t caught this you would have been dead in no more than six months.
Then Everything Goes Wrong
I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 5:00 am in order to get prepped for surgery scheduled for 7:00 am. My wife drove me in and on the way there we had a flat tire….first sign things weren’t going well.
My wife was in the waiting room and the doctor told her he would probably be there to report the outcomes to her within about five hours. Tweleve hours passed and my wife knew something was wrong.
The surgeon came into the waiting room looking exhausted. He approached my wife and said “We ran into complications but your husband is alive. We performed the surgery then closed up his chest only to discover his heart cavity was filling up with blood. We had to open him up again and drain the heart cavity of blood and repair the arteries that were leaking. During the second surgery your husband suffered three strokes and we don’t know the impact as of yet. He is being moved to intensive care and we can see him in about 30 minutes.
I awoke in the intensive care unit with tubes coming out of a half dozen locations on my body. I could vaguely see my wife surrounded by white coats and she was pointing at them and speaking with a stern voice. The doctors turned to me and asked me to move my legs. Nothing moved! My wife’s face was white then I could feel my bed move rapidly as the doctors rushed me off to some room.
I was put to sleep and awoke back in the intensive care unit with my wife holding my hand. The doctor was next to me and said “move your legs”. I did and my wie bursted into tears. I was too full of drugs to feel any emotion whatsoever. All I knew was my legs were moving.
I had a two week recovery period before I was sent home. During the recovery I was given the wrong pain medication, the one my wife told them I was allergic to, and the results of the error made me sick, unable to walk and I hallucinated several times during a 24 hour period. One night I called my wife and awoke her at 3:00 in the morning to tell her they had put me in a cellar with no windows and they were trying to hide me (I was hallucinating).
The next day my wife came into the hospital and asked to see my chart with all the meds I had been given. Then she discovered that they had made a mistake….To say the least my wife got their attention and fixed the problem.
Sent Home Only To Fly Back
I was finally able to go home even though I still wasn’t strong enough to walk. After two days at home my wife was worried that I was failing yet again. She got help to put me in the car and she took me to my cardiologist office for an exam. My doctor put me into the hospital, not Vanderbilt this time. He told my wife they would keep me overnight to run some test. I was checked into a room and my wife went home to take care of our nine year old son.
The next morning at 4:00 am my wife was awoken by a phone call from my doctor. He told her that he had been with me all night and was able to keep me alive. She needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible. Upon arriving my wife discovered I was failing fast, water had filled my lungs and blood was again filling my chest cavity. My doctor said we need to life flight (helicopter) me back to Vanderbilt where the originacl surgeon could attempt to remedy the problems. My wife objected and my doctor said “The surgeon is the best to save his life since he did the original surgery he was well equipped to go back in. My wife approved and I was life flighted back to Vanderbilt.
I arrived back at Vanderbilt and rushed into surgery. Upon being placed on the operating table my heart stopped and I died only to be brought back to life due to the swiftness of the surgeons hands and his God given skills.
I went home a week later and never went back. Now after more than a year I am fully recovered, stronger than ever before and thankful I am here to share this story and to love on my family and friends. Life means a lot more once you loose it.