Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heart Attack Cruise: Update 2


Yesterday, my catheterization hadn't gone the way the cardiologist thought. He figured the blockage in my artery would be minor, and he would be able to put a stent in the artery, but that's not what happened.

Instead, the blockage was severe (about 75%), and it hit at a place where the artery forked, and he knew it would be pointless to put a stent there.

He told me I would need open heart surgery to graft a vein around the blockage. I would need a by-pass.

So today, Linda and I spent most of the morning in the hospital seeing my cardiologist and another cardiologist and the open heart surgeon and his assistant. Individually, they came to tell me about his or her part of the story of the surgery they were going to do on me. Most of it, I couldn't understand. They talked about terms and procedures I didn't know a thing about and had never heard of. They showed me pictures of the heart and pictures of the arteries. They told me what would happen first and what I could expect a couple of weeks from today when I would start to feel better.

It was a lot to take in.

The last person I saw was the anesthesiologist. He was there to evaluate my condition before Thursday's surgery. He looked me up and down and took my medical history and asked me about my life style.

I told him about how I've been a vegetarian for 30 years and exercised every day and didn't smoke and limited my drinking to a glass of wine a night. I even told him about doing yoga and lifting weights.

That's when he shook his head and said, "You know, you're in great shape. You got the body of a 52-year old man."

I said, "Yeah? So how come I'm having open heart surgery at 530 Thursday morning."

He looked at me and said, "Shit happens."

__________

Lillian will be posting updates at my facebook page about the operation.

By the way, the above tattoo of a dagger piercing a heart appeared at TattooSymbol.Com

37 comments:

Libby said...

Oh, John, I'm so sorry, but I know it will all turn out well. I'll be thinking of you --

Brett said...

You'll be in my prayers, John. If it's any encouragement, a teacher colleague of mine just went through open-heart surgery a couple of weeks ago, and he is recovering nicely. I will take that as a good omen. Hope to see you back doing your own blogs and continuing your other good works in good time.

Anonymous said...

Your metaphysical heart is in great shape John, and my intuitive heart tells me your physical heart will be in great shape again in the weeks ahead. I think often of two lines by Emily Dickinson: "I am afraid to own a Body/I am afraid to own a Soul" -- yes indeed! I'll be following the updates and will celebrate when you post again. Love, Gray

Anonymous said...

John,
My mother-in-law had open heart surgery in the fall of 2008. She's 82 now and is feeling better than ever. She does yoga and walks. The doctors said that her good condition going into the surgery definitely helped. She was in a lot of pain for a week afterward in part because she couldn't take any of the meds because of allergies.
I'll be praying for you.
Daiva

Nancy said...

What a blow - a shock. Thankfully such surgeries are common and there are many expert specialists who know what to do. Sixty years ago, a different story. My husband's sister had it done 3 years ago and is going strong, so are several friends. But, NOT FUN. I'll be sending a prayer up on Thursday. Thanks to Lillian for keeping your friends up to date. Now I'll have to get a facebook account.

Anonymous said...

John, I know you're going to pull through this and feel 150% after your recovery. I think you're owed a cruise minus the medical emergency. And as a get-well gift I'm going to update the graphic for your site, so be thinking about what photos you're going to send me for that. Francine and I are sending our very best wishes, friend. -Chris

Andy said...

Hang in there Jasiu.

I'll say my prayers for you.

Nie martw sie, wszystko bedzie w porzadku.

All the best,
Andy Golebiowski

Fern said...

It's so good to hear from you directly, John. What a thing this is! We're all grateful to you for taking good care of yourself so that your body and mind are as prepared as they can be. We'll all be paying close attention to our own heart beats and thinking about yours. xo

Leslie P. said...

Sending every good wish I have your way! xoxox

Urkat said...

It makes no sense to me how someone with your lifestyle could have developed a blockage, but just shows what I know. Fortunately, as I'm sure others will tell you, this kind of surgery has become very routine. At least you know what was causing your arrhythmia, and that should be some comfort. Needless to say I'll be praying for you and hope your gambling addiction leads to a speedy recovery--haha. You are a rare individual, and I'd like to say for the record what a privilege it is to call you my friend. Love, Matt

Michael Meyerhofer said...

Thank you for the updates. I'll be thinking of you. In other news, I can't wait to share "What My Father Believed" with my students next semester! Truly a fantastic poem!

Bozena said...

Well, if now you are 52 biologically, you should get to live to be something around 120. You better get ready for that! I will pray for your successful surgery and speedy recover.

richard said...

Thinking about what you (and Linda) will be going through on Thursday and wishing you the best.
Hey, how about "Love In Vein" for a tattoo instead of that dagger?
Looking forward to your triumphant return from blockage to bloggage very soon.
Bruce K.

David and Joan Piekarczyk said...

Good luck John.

Anonymous said...

John,

sending prayers and good energy for your operation and speedy recovery...looking forward to reading your blogs again!

Wanda Sawicki

Bob Champ said...

Mark Twain tells of an ailing lady who asked his advice. He said, Do you drink? No, she said. Do you smoke? No, indeed. Do you take snuff? No. Do you overeat? Never. Well, Twain said, that's the problem. You've neglected your bad habits. You're a sinking ship with no ballast to throw overboard.

Best of luck on your surgery, John. Get well soon. We need more of your poetry in this world.

Bob from Facebook

Two Review said...

John,

All best to you and your family. Be brave, stay strong. Lots of positive thoughts and prayers headed your way.

Jeremy

eyeslikesugar said...

Oh wow... I'll be thinking of you and wishing well. When my mom had brain surgery, we were a wreck! At least you are in peak health for the surgery. Thank you for letting us know.

Jared Carter said...

Thumbs up, John!

Ania said...

John, my prayers will be with you on Thursday -- and after the surgery you will be as good as new! Hang in there.
Ania

Mark Kohan said...

John,
You will come through this with colors flying. I know it sounds ironic, but if anyone is in shape for bypass, it is you.
Expect prayers: they work!
Mark

Kate Cal said...

Uncle John,
Good luck and recover well. We are thinking about you. Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Love, Kate, Anthony, Anna, David, and John

Anonymous said...

Just keep thinking about how great you're going to feel when the surgery is over and you've healed. In just a few weeks, you'll feel even better than you have in years. You will conquer this, we're all keeping you in our thoughts and prayers! -Christine

Catherine Hobbs said...

John, Linda, I'll be thinking about you and checking your messages. I know all will go well and your good shape will see you through.

Anonymous said...

John, best wishes to you. Charlie Hughes

Tim said...

I'll be thinking of you, John, and the best thing I can further say is that I co-sign what Mark said above: "I know it sounds ironic, but if anyone is in shape for bypass, it is you."

Anonymous said...

John, your heart is as big as this world! You will be in my toughts for sure. Christina Pacos

Beth Kalikoff said...

John, I value these updates more than I can say. Thank you so much. Thinking of you and sending you, Linda, and Lillian hope and love. I too will celebrate your next posting. And the next. XX Beth

Dale said...

Hi John,
I know this is a great deal to process, but a scheduled surgery is preferable to an emergency one. My husband went through this at age 54 and my mother at age 84, both with excellent outcomes. I'm certain you are in good hands, and hope you will rest and take care after the surgery. You will do well.
Prayers,
Dale Sprowl

Karen J. Weyant said...

Thinking of you -- my father had heart surgery 10 years ago, and he is feeling just "spiffy" (I know, horrible word, but it somehow fits here.)

You will be up and running around in no time at all!

Curtis White said...

John: 52? I didn't know you were that old. And why 52? Doesn't he know about round numbers?

Good luck. I'll be thinking about you. Curt

Ranjit said...

I'll be thinking of you, John, and may your surgery be a great success.

And I like your anesthesiologist.

Carla said...

I'll be sending positive thoughts your way all day on Thursday. It's good to know you are in such good condition going into this. Should help on the recovery end. All the best--Carla

Angie Campbell said...

I am so sorry to learn of your recent health problems. I went through heart catheratization with a wierd blockage about 8 years ago with my husband. We were as shocked as you sound and as the wife I can feel for your wife. My husband did not have to take the step you are with bypass surgery but has been having problems recently and the cardiologists has mentioned it is a very real possibility. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. I am looking forward to reading more when you are feeling better.

sonia said...

Thinking of you today. Brilliant answer 'Shit happens'

Danusha Goska said...

I wonder if anyone has any updates? John mentioned facebook for updates, but I'm not a facebooker so I wouldn't even know how to check facebook. If anyone knows anything, perhaps a short update can be posted here?

Anonymous said...

John, I just now got back to work and checked my email. I am hoping that all went well with the surgery, and that you will be back up to speed as soon as is feasible. Don't try to push the recovery too fast, though. It takes time for the body to get over something major like that. And expect to have down times, too, when everything seems black. Your mind is affected by your body, but it will only be temporary, God willing.

Hang in there, you and Linda and Lillian!

Lisa Childress