I have visited the Heard Surgeon and he gave me the OK to go and start life again. Still no heavy lifting but, the sternum should be 90% healed. He said to expect the wound to heal in 2 months but, if not, I should contact him and we will discuss a plastic surgeon at that point.
Pat is changing the bandages every 2 days and I am still going for wound dressing changes at Seton Main every Monday. They anticipate another 2 months wound to heal also.
No one has mentioned Heart Rehab; just do walking and cardiovascular stuff.
I am still addressing nodules/lumps that no one seems to want "to be in their job description". Very frustrating!! and they hurt, too.
It looks like no swimming this summer. Some days are just days that I am very tired and do not seem to feel good.
I still need to lose lots of weight to fit into my new heart valve. There is still a murmur and I will need to downsize into it.
Thank you all for your prayers and keeping up with my saga. It means a lot to me and I KNOW that it really made a difference. I am so blessed!! Thank you.
Well, things are moving pretty fast now. The Wound Rehab Technician gave me the OK to NOT put the wound vac device back on (no longer needed); a standard bandage is working just fine. Pat is now changing it once a day and doing a fine job.
The bandage that we are now using is soft, very flexible and rarely causes any pain.
I am planning to go back to work tomorrow and full time also. I have an appointment on Thursday of this week and one next Thursday also. Dressing changes and a checkup from the Wound Rehab technician will continue every Monday. We shall see how work and the boss adjust to my schedule.
We have decided that we are done with the Wound Vac; I will be sending it back to the company.
Today, we met with the Plastic Surgeon that has spoken to the Heart Surgeon. They have decided that removal of the bottom sternum wire is probably not necessary; they believe that it has not been compromised. The Plastic Surgeon feels that the wound is healing GREAT!!!!! So, his plan is to simply graft some skin from the thigh to the wound and close it up. This way it will ALL be healed in about a week.
HOWEVER>>>>>> I seem to have some lumps/bumps/nodules (??) floating around area of the wound. The doctors feel that this is from the surgery; where the blood source was severed and the dead tissue remains. I am making an appointment to have all of this checked out. Assuming that all of this is just dead tissue, the plan is to allow them to simply go away.
The Plastic Surgeon is researching the $$$$ options; plastic surgery versus continued dressing change for another month or so. We shall see.
We have waited a full week and the heart surgeon and the plastic surgeon have not spoken. The wound is REALLY filling in quick now and it seems like it is time to remove the Wound Vac and be done with this.
The wound technician and I decided to remove the Wound Vac and try a traditional bandage to see how the wound heals. We will determine if the wound can heal now without any additional help or we need to continue with surgically closing.
With that being the plan for the moment, it appears that the Plastic Surgeon strongly feels that the sternum wire needs to be removed and maybe other things also. I plan to meet with the Plastic Surgeon on Wednesday to discuss his plan and hopefully, he will have talked to the Heart Surgeon.
I REALLY thought that we were starting to get past the pain; maybe just twinges now and then is what I was expecting at this point.
We are still going every other day to have the dressing changed. The wound continues to look healthier and healthier. I am continuing to wear the wound vac which continues to encourage the wound to become narrower and narrower. By continuing to wear the vac, it keeps the wound air-tight and clean AND ready for the closure surgery at any time.
However, the surgeons have not had a chance to chat about my gamplan. I am ready for MY gameplan to be their top priority and it needs to be executed soonest.
So, the saga continues. Wait....wait....wait... I am frustrated with all of this now. I am ready for this part of the story to be complete.
On Thursday, 1/24/13, we visited with the cardiologist. I expected a boost; maybe a gameplan or something. Nope, the cardiologist said that I still have a heart murmur but, it is a different TYPE of heart murmur. He changed some meds and said, see you in 3 months and wished me good luck.
On Friday, 1/25/13, we went for a dressing change and we had a different technician. She did a good job but, different pain. She found one little infection spot to remove. We are still waiting for the Plastic Surgeon and the Heart Surgeon to develop a gameplan and get this wound closed up and move forward.
I need to get back to work and get through heart rehabilitation. Exciting times are getting closer.
I went for a dressing change today and met with the Plastic Surgeon today. The technicians did not find any more infection or bad looking stuff that needed to be removed............WOOOOO....HOOOOO.
The Plastic Surgeon feels VERY confident that he can develop a plan to get this wound closed up and move forward pretty quickly now that the infection is gone. He will now talk to the surgeon and will order some blood tests and CT Scans and X-ray and who knows what all to ensure that this wound is indeed ready to close.
They have an ETA of 3 weeks before the "close" operation will be scheduled. At this point, I do not have any more REAL details that make any sense to me.
Thank you for all of your continued prayers. Please continue to pray that the plan comes together soon and it is implemented soonest!!!!!
There was not much to report after the last dressing change as we were on hold for the meetings with the Wound Doctor and the Plastic Surgeon.
I had a lot of wound pain since the last dressing change so, I have been having been moving slow and feeling quite blah. My wound technician worked very hard today to try some different techniques to try to relieve the constant pain. So far, so good but, I have a bunch of drugs on board and lanacaine is still working on the wound; we shall see what tomorrow brings.
Today we met with the Wound Doctor and that bad spot that we have been chasing has FINALLY started to heal. Wound Doc agrees that the Plastic Surgeon can now step in and will have magic that he can use that will hurry the closure of the to the end (now that infection is closing in on DONE). WOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!! Wound size is still 11 inches long by 7.5 inches wide.
We meet with the Plastic Surgeon on Monday. He will be able to give us a gameplan for getting to the finish line. Based on his gameplan, we can begin to talk about working time, driving and rehabilitation. I still have 6 weeks of rehabilitation to go through. We see the cardiologist on 1/24; maybe he can shed some light on things.
As you can see, prayers are continuing to work. I am so blessed. Thank you all for your continued prayers.
We continue to travel back and forth to Seton main on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for dressing changes and more infection removal. Since it is Monday, it has been 3 days for the new tissue to grow and adhere to the sponge (instead of the normal 2 days). Today was more painful that normal so, it took a little longer to get it done. Also, this tecnician spends a bunch of time working to get absolutely as much of the infection removed as possible.
The wound technicians are still saying another month. We have come to the conclusion that we have one area that is just not healing. The technician has contacted the Wound Doctor for consultation and is seeking advice of a Plastic Surgeon. We are starting to lean toward another trip to the Operating Room to preform a "deep removal" of this problematic area. We are thinking that the Plastic Surgeon may be able to perform this as a bedside procedure without sending me back to the Operating Room.
Today was a VERY exhausting day and I am not sure why. Standard excercise, standard pain meds but, I am just spent. All-in-all, I am getting stronger and stronger, appettite is returning but, I am watching what I eat since I still MUST lose a bunch of weight for my heart.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. Please continue to pray for complete infection healing, the wound closure, good game plan from the doctors and continued strength to return. God Bless and Thank You.
Sorry folks, I posted from my phone but, I did not realize that it did not actually publish to the blog. So, I have some catching up to do.
Let me share a little generic information about exactly what a "wound vac" really is. It is a device that is generally used on wounds that are wide and need to be drawn together, wounds that need to heal quickly or wounds that are on patients that are difficult healers such as diabetics which I am.
If the wound has infection, doctors will remove what they can and the wound is vacuum-packed to be air-tight and water tight. This allows for a perfect environment for the wound to heal and new tissue to grow quickly and perfectly. At the same time, constant vacuum pressure is applied to the wound using a tube from the wound to an external purse-size vacuum pump which continues to remove the infection. So, enough details.
Every other day, all of this is setup is removed. The wound technicians remove more infection that they can physically see and the device is replaced with a new dressing.
So..... the infection still exists today but, much less percentage of the wound has infection. ETA for some percentage of infection is expected to continue for another couple of weeks. Eventually, the infection will no longer exist at all and we will concentrate on using the wound vacuum for the sole purpose of closing the wound. ETA of persistent infection is still a couple of weeks. ETA of closure of wound is still another month to 2 months. This is not a short process to say the least.
Good news...... infection percentage is continuing to get smaller so, the infection doctor feels that the antibiotics have done their job. NOW..... hopefully, my taste-buds will return so that I can eat; my taste buds says everything is bitter, bitter, bitter. A healhty diet will build my strength and get me back on track. Antibiotics done next week; strengtht will start to return soon after appetite returns.
I hope this was not too graphic but, helps with explaining what is going on.... slow process.
Thanks again for your continued prayers for healing, appetite to return and strenght to continue to grow. God Bless.
Well, the wound vac dressing changes are painful to say the least but, the amount of pain and the time that it lasts continues to be less and less. The wound is continuing to heal better than they expected it would. I have to go outpatient for the change on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays for the next couple of months.
The appetite situation contines to keep me wondering. I purchased my favorite cottage cheese(not low fat) and my favorite white english muffin (not lite) and it tasted like I was eating cardboard and sand for breakfast. Yesterday, I split a Po-Boy sandwich and 2 french fries with my friend; I tasted brisket and french fries!!!!! So, why does the BAD food taste correctly but, the fairly good stuff still taste like cardboard. I am adding some Ensure to my diet to ensure that I get all of the healthy diet stuff that wound-healing requires. I am on a Low Fat, Low Cholesterol, Low Sodium and Heart Healthy diet.
I ventured out yesterday to the HEB. Although it was extremely tiring and I had to use a "scooter buggie", it was nice to do something fairly normal.
The doctors worked hard yesterday (Christmas eve) on removing more of the infection. After several doctors taking a look at it, they decided that the wound vac would be the best course of action now. So, the portable unit was installed and I went home.
I am VERY glad to be home but, I am not feeling nearly as good as I did the last time that I came home. I do not have any appetite for anything at all so, eating is a real struggle. The pain from the wound is pretty hefty and pain meds are a really good friend right now; which worries me.
So, the plan for the next 2 week is to go to Seton Main Outpatient every other day for more debridement and dressing change. Once the wound heals, I have no idea how it is all closed up.
So, continued healthy eating, pill-taking, dressing change, infection removal and lots and lots and lots more prayers. Again, thank you all for being such deligent prayer warriors.
So there was a chance I would have gone home today but neither the infection doc or the wound people were happy with how things looked when they changed the dressings today. So they cleaned the area again and decided to go back to the wet-to-dry dressing and change it several times between now and Monday. The plan is to put the personal size wound vac on mer on Monday and then discharge me. I will be coming back to Seton Main for dressing changes so that the same people keep working on me so they can keep close track of my progress as they don't want it to get worse again.
Sorry I didn't get this up for Debbie last night. She had another procedure this morning to clean out more of the infection and set up a wound vac to help with her healing.
She finally got results from the cultures of her infection and they found 4 different strains of bacteria. She is now on different and stronger antibiotics and will need to get them daily via IV for an extended period of time. They have installed a pic line that should last for up to three months which will be used by home health care people to administer the IV.
These test results tell all visitors that we need to be extra vigilant to wash/disinfect hands when visiting and to be extra careful if you even think you might be getting sick - she doesn't need to get any other infections!
The wound vac will need care about every 2 or 3 days. At this point they are planning to send her home with it and will be setting up with Seton Hays to manage that for her on an out-patient basis.
It looks like she may be in another couple of days but if you are thinking about visiting I would call or text first just to make sure where she is.
Take care and keep praying that today's procedures will get her firmly on the road to recovery. Also, she came back from the procedure in a fair amount of pain so please pray that this will improve as well.
We are still waiting for the results about the infection as to what type and what caused it and ?????
Everything is a bit of a struggle. Drawing bood, walking, breathing, sitting, eatijng, showering, etc. It sure makes for a long day to a bunch of little things.
Chest pain level is fairly low but, more than it has been in the past couple of weeks.
They have delivered the wound vac for the doctors to install in the morning. It is my understanding that the device will draw the moisture off the wound to reduce the infection. It has a motor and weighs about 25 pounds; I will have to have healthcare technicians handle this equipment.
There is some thought that they will release me tomorrow but, it may not be until Tuesday. Dr. Mueller wants to ensure that the infection is not an issue and recovery is back on track again.
The doctor is very pleased with the results but I am very concerned about the expressions on the faces of the folks that saw the wound. HOWEVER, I am doing well and still feeling blessed.
Thanks for the continued prayers!!!! Please remember to sign your comments so I know who left which kind words.
The surgery is over and the doctor was pleased to see that the infection was mostly surface. He cleaned out what he found. Even after cleaning he was not able to see the bone - which is a good thing because that means that she is healing - Praise God!!
Dr Mueller has asked for a consult with infectious diseases this afternoon as he is planning a series if wet and dry dressings over the weekend to continue removing all dead and infected tissue. He anticipated that on Monday they will insert a wound vac and send her home.
Please continue praying as obviously she needs to continue healing. I will continue posting updates until Debbie is up to doing it herself again.
Okay people - get your prayers going!! This is Jo An sharing the latest news:
Debbie saw her surgeon today (a week ahead of schedule) because she was concerned about her incision. Turns out she was right to be worried! She has an infection that is bad enough that Dr Mueller sent her directly to the hospital to be admitted. Tomorrow morning he will be opening her up again to clean and scrape the infected stuff as well as any dead skin out of the wound. He is also concerned that the infection may have gotten to her bones and will be checking that while he is in there.
It looks like she will be in several days at least as they get the infection under control. She is back at Seton Main, Room 343. Please pray that the infection is very contained and that they are able to clear it all out and get her healing properly.
She will more than likely be very tired and in pain tomorrow so if you do go up to see her please keep your visit short. Also, be sure to use the hand sanitizer outside her door before entering.
I will update tomorrow when we know how the surgery goes.
Debbie continues to cruise down the road toward recovery. Several big things happened today - she is off all IV's (although they are keeping one in just in case), the catheter has been removed and she is now in a room on the cardiac floor! Yeah no more ICU!!
Dr Mueller (surgeon) was in today and talked to Debbie and Pat twice. He is pleased with her progress and encouraged her regarding the importance of some lifestyle changes so this surgery does not have to be done again. He also suggested that Pat is going to need to change some things so that his behavior does not harm Debbie.
So, here is what you all really want to know: She is in room 308. There are no set visiting hours but Debbie is asking that you please call her before you come as they have big plans for her tomorrow. You can call her room phone at 512-324-1308. If you do end up coming down please remember that she still needs to rest and if she looks sleepy or like she is trying to stay awake to entertain you - it is time to leave :) also, just outside her door is a foaming antibacterial hand wash - please be sure to use it before coming into her room. And I know I don't need to tell you this - if you are not feeling well - even a little not well PLEASE DON'T COME to the hospital. Call and chat but please stay home. She is doing so well the last thing we want is for her to get some type of infection.
Debbie wants to thank all of you for your prayers and support and hopes to be managing this journal on her own soon.
According to Debbie's nurse for the day, Steve, she could not possibly be doing any better. She was up and sitting in a chair twice already when I was there and was going to be in the chair one more time tonight. She is eating solid food and many of the tubes and IV's have been removed. It looks like she will be moved upstairs to a regular room sometime tomorrow.
The nurse said that starting tomorrow she will be walking the halls. When I expressed surprise he said that Debbie was a very strong person and had done most of the work in getting in and out of the chair.
Praise God as she continues to heal and gain strength!
Debbie had a good day. She met several milestones on her road to recovery:
1) as reported earlier she was able to get off the breathing tube (ventilator)
2) she was able to get out of bed! they had her stand up and do some marching in place before getting back in bed.
3) they have been able to discontinue several IV's as she doesn't need some of the medicine any more. Her heart is strong and working well on it's own!
4) She was sipping water all afternoon and they were going to try giving her some jello and maybe broth tonight. If she does well with that they will try real food tomorrow.
So after such a busy day, she is tired and getting a bit cranky. You all know Debbie - she just doesn't lay around and she is feeling stiff and uncomfortable from being on her back for so long. Please pray that the nursing staff can help her get comfortable so she rests well tonight.
The doctor is hoping to move her out of ICU on Monday but it all depends on her continuing progress. So mixed in with the work of getting out of bed more tomorrow and any other things they need her to do we need to pray that she can rest. Right now it is the best thing for her.
I have been telling her about the comments you all have been leaving in her guest book and she loves hearing them! I will probably not take the computer to the hospital tomorrow so if there is a message you want to get to her feel free to call or text me at 512-618-7617!
Have a good night and I will update again tomorrow.
Debbie is now breathing completely on her own!! She is alert and talking and getting antsy to move a bit.
The nursing staff is fabulous - she has her own dedicated nurse who sits right outside her room and checks on her every 5-10 minutes. The nurse today is named Steve and he is doing everything he can to help her be comfortable.
We talked to the doctor who told us in front of her that she is doing really well. Debbie asked about the valve and he told her they used a 21mm bovine valve. It was a bit larger than the one he would have used 2 1/2 weeks ago but a little smaller than the one he planned to use yesterday. Apparently her chest cavity is very small inside so they had to adjust how they did things. Having said that we were told her heart looked great when they were done!
Pat and I were just in to see Debbie and she had a restful night. They ended up leaving her on the breathing tube as her volumes were a bit low on her own - meaning she wasn't taking deep breaths on her own. They are going to lower the level of sedation this morning and do a breathing test to see if she is ready to come off the tube. They have already lowered the volume on the machine from 12 units overnight to 8 units this morning to see how ready she is for the change.
The good news is she has color in her face and is able to communicate her needs - the biggest one is she wants the breathing tube out NOW! The drainage appears to be a little less today as well.
So keep your prayers coming and I will keep you updated as she makes progress.
This is the final update I will send today. According to the nurses Debbie is doing surprisingly well. She has woken up several times and acknowledges people in the room and has tried asking a couple of questions even though she is still on the breathing tube.
Unfortunately no one is allowed to stay with her overnight as she had hoped. But the nurses will take good care of her and make sure that she is as comfortable as possible. They said Debbie wouldn"t even know there was no family there as they are planning to keep her sedated so that she doesn't fight sleep or anything that they are trying to do to help her heal. It sounds like they will attempt to remove the breathing tube over night.
Now for what many of you will not want to hear - as long as she is in ICU visitors are extremely limited - ideally that means family only and even then there are no chairs in the room and the nurses push you out pretty quickly. So if you do want to come to the hospital it will be to provide support to Pat as you will likely not get to see Debbie until she is in a regular room. Rest assured I will let you know when that happens and what visiting hours are once she is moved.
I am meeting Pat at 6am as that is when people can get back in to see her and will update this journal when I have fresh information.
In the meantime, continue praying for a miraculous recovery! Pray that the medical team has the wisdom,strength and courage to make the correct decisions as they manage her care and that Debbie has a peaceful night.
We are all praising God for what he has done so far, may he continue to guide our thoughts, actions and prayers as we seek to support both Debbie and Pat through this challenging time.
9:50 am - just heard from surgical nurse Lou who called the waiting room to let us know that all is going well in surgery. It took a bit longer to get started as there was some difficulty with 'getting lines in'. However, they are now started and all is going well.
This is Jo An trying to keep you updated. They took Debbie into surgery around 7:15am. We have been told to eat, take a walk, whatever we want but then head to the ICU waiting area where we should hear something in around 5 hours! I guess we will get to eat a lot :)
There were 5 of us here early to pray with her prior to going in. Please join us we pray her and the surgical team through the day.
Pat and I checked into our downtown hotel earlier today and went to run more errands and pack and have dinner.
We arrived in room about 10:00pm. We decided to take a trial ride over to the hospital but, could not get the exit gate to let is out. We took this as part of God's plan and decided to rest instead. Since we have Pat's truck, we can jump the curb in the morning if needed with no worries.
Not sure if sleep is possible. Praying and chatting. Pat and I both have the gitters.
Probably my last post for awhile. JoAn will try to post some status as soon as they know something.
Ok, ya'll.... I can't seem to read my calendar correctly. The surgery is still REALLY scheduled for Friday, November 30th (not 11/29) at the Seton Medical Center Austin hospital located at 1201 West 38th Street in Austin, TX.
Pat and I are still planning on staying at a hotel in downtown Austin to lower the stress for our 5:00am arrival time on Firday.
This time around, I have had plenty of time to contemplate everything scheduled for Friday and the imminent pain associated with it all. Pat and I pray a lot and my faith is still strong; still I can't seem to help being concerned of the unknown.
Thanks again to everyone for your continued prayers and comments in my guestbook. It is so encouraging knowing that all of my friends are praying for me.
MaryAnn, Pat and I went for pre-op testing this morning at Seton Main Hospital in Austin. We traveled right in the middle of rush hour trafficefor an appointment at 8:00AM. We left the house at 6:45AM and for those of you that know Pat, this was truly a tough chore but, we made it in plenty of time.
This pre-op testing was certainly not the same as the previous pre-op tesing that I had in Seton Hays. Because it is a much bigger hospital, having many more patients to attend and always short-staffed, it had more of a feel of cattle branding day at the O.K. Corral. The folks were nice enough but, they did not provide any information or gave any feeling that they knew me or had any idea as to why I was having surgery; just that they had a process to put me through. HOWEVER..... on the good note. The lab technician drew 4 vials of blood on the very first stick. WOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!!!!
My family and my friends from work went to lunch for Chinese food at my favorite littel restaurant. Since it was not a buffet, I did not over eat too much and it was yummy. Thanks for the treat as I have tried to be very good during Thanksgiving.
CHANGED DATE>>>> Dr. Mueller called me to ask if I would be willing to give up my Wednesday surgery to a gentleman that is REALLY sick and needs surgery sooner than ASAP. Of course I am willing to change my date to possibily save his life. My new date for surgery is this Friday 11/30/12. I have to be at the Seton Main hospital on 38th at 4:00am for scheduled surgery at 7:15am. I am waiting to confirm that time.
Please, please, please ... everyone please say a prayer for the gentleman that is needing the surgery to be done on Wednesday. Dr. Mueller says that he will REALLY need the prayers to even be able to wait for surgery day on Wednesday. Please, Lord, give him the strength. Amen.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Thank you all so much for all of the comments in my guestbook.
I did not expect to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving so much without pain from recovery but, Thank You, Jesus. Today I am so thankful for so much; to my friends (which is my and Pat's family), to my health, to my surgeon (Dr. Mueller) and the Anestheologist that saw the issue on 11/13. Special thanks to my friend MaryAnn that is staying with us to help and JoAn and Cilly who have truly been my rocks. They are always here for me. Thank you both and Thank You, Jesus, for giving me these rock-strong friends/sisters.
My surgery is still on-schedule for 11/28 at Seton Main, Austin, TX. I have pre-op testing on Monday morning. Pat and I will be staying downtown the night before surgery to ensure we are there on time and it will lower the stress of traffic and being ontime.
I plan for some Black Friday shopping tomorrow. Limited strength will cause for a very stragetic shopping plan but, it will be fun.
MaryAnn, Cilly, Pat and I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Mueller to get more details about why we had to cancel the surgery and what the new plan is going to be.
Dr. Mueller showed us the CT scan that showed all of the plaque. The doctor said this was all a huge surprise and KNEW that my case was going to be extremely special.
The main concern was the unusual plaque hanging on the outside of the Aorta valve on the curve. The problem is that the doctor planned to use a balloon pump in that EXACT location to restart the heart. Since this would be very dangerous because this may knock the paque loose and cause problems somewhere else (like the liver or leg or ???). The second option to restart the heart would be to use another tool but, the tool was sitting on the floor not charged and the staff was not well-trained in it's use. BOTTOM LINE is that Seton Hays has not done many operations that required the use of this device. This raised the rate of mortality from 3-4% to 15%. With both of these factors being WAY different than what the doctor and I discussed, he decided to move the surgery to Seton Main after Thanksgiving. This would give him PLENTY of time to deal with my special case. Dr. Mueller would be assured that I was on-board with the decision of continuing with the surgery AND he would be 100% comfortable by having everything that he needs close at hand AND having his well-trained staff at his right hand. I certainly want my surgeon "comfortable".
Dr. Mueller picked the Wednesday after Thanksgiving which is 11/28/12; hopefully, he will be re-cooperated from the holiday by then.
I will have to be at Seton Main hospital at 5:30am.
I was totally prepped and a full day's worth of anesthesia in my system when the anesthesiologist noticed something that did not look right. Once the doctor looked at the problem, he found that it was a large piece of loose plaque. This is a dangerous situation which the Seton Hays, Kyle, TX had the tools to fix and the surgeon to do but, the assistants were not well-trained on the use of the tool and the performing the procedure. This situation increases the risk for stroke and death tremendously which my doctor felt that he should make me aware and would need to make some tough and dangerous decisions. Thankfully, Dr. Mueller decided to postpone the surgery and move me to a hospital that has the right tools and well-trained staff. I have an appointment with my surgeon (Dr. Mueller) this coming Thursday 11/15 to see the results of my CT scan and re-schedule the surgery.
Thank goodness for Dr.Mueller. Other surgeons may have pushed forward witht the surgery and ended up with a problem on MY hands. Again, thank you, Dr. Mueller, he prefers to wait until the week AFTER Thanksgiving when he is less busy and can truly devote his time to my case.
I know that many would think that this postponement is not good but, it is blessing. Blessing that they saw the issue BEFORE surgery started, blessing that now I understand the breathing tubes and punctures and catherters, etc. etc. etc. Jesus has a plan and I have faith that he knows what he is doing.
I am very tired and need a couple of naps. Gonna go and take some of those now. Again, thanks for everyone's prayers. They are REALLY working. ;->
OK... Nervous is an understatement and Pat sasys that he has the "gitters". I am truly feeling tired and tightness in the chest when worry kicks into overdrive. I am not looking forward to the surgery but, I am glad that it is not another couple of weeks away.
A friend of a friend has recommended the use of a negative pressure wound dressing called Provena made by KCI. After a bunch of work and phone calls, Kelly has made sure that I have one available for my surgeon. ALSO, a company representive will be assisting the surgeon to ensure that it is applied properly. This will help the healing process since I am a diabetic and healing is a little more difficult.
Today I spent hours in pre-adimt-testing (PAT) and gave multiple tubes of blood and a chest X-Ray, received training on use of heart pillow and Spirometer. I guess that I am ready.
Either JoAn or Pat will try to keep this blog updated as much as possible. We shall see how that goes.
Nurses have HIGHLY suggested that visitors hold off visiting until I have been moved up to the third floor. This should happen on Thursday if all goes as planned. I am asking that all visitors please, please use the hand sanitizers as they enter the room as infection possibility is high for this type of surgery.
I have faith that Jesus has the perfect plan for me. He has the surgeon's hand in his hand. I know that all of my friends and family are praying for Pat and I and I am so grateful for the prayer warriors.
Just a general update. As Pat and I prepare for surgery next week, things in general are falling apart. The washing machine broke and had to replaced and then IT had to be returned and fixed. Kitchen sink plumbing sprung a leak, etc. etc. etc. So, Pat and HIS support group have been busy. As they say, God sure has a sense of humor!
At a friend's suggestion (Laurie), Pat and I toured the Hays Seton Hospital ICU Cardiac ward today. They were extremely accomodating and answered a bunch of questions that Pat and I had. Most of you are familar with the "I got a question" from Pat but, they took the time to answer all of those too.
Last week, the neighbors put out a new Lazy Boy recliner and an electric scooter at their garage sale which we were glad to adopt. Thank you as we were shopping for a new recliner and this was very timely.
I still have some things left on my list to get ready but, time is getting short and I am getting more anxious. I am starting to feel tired and occasional discomfort. Trying to stay active but, trying to be really careful NOT to overdue. Will update again soon.
Finally, everything has come together and my "official" date of surgery is November 13th. I have to be at Seton Hospital - Hays in Kyle, TX at 5:00am on November 13th. The plan is that the surger will be 3 - 3 1/2 hours, 1 day in ICU and then another 5 - 7 days in the hospital.
Dr. Mueller will decide on what type of tissue valve will be used for the Aortic valve replacement.
My friend, MaryAnn, will be flying in on November 13th from Rhode Island to assist with the recovery.
Only 2 weeks left to tie up all of the lose ends and settle for God's elaborate plan that he has for me and my recovery. Please continue to send prayers for Pat and I.
This is not heart related but, another bump in the road. I stepped out of my front door onto the welcome mat, twisted my ankle and hit the cement.
I went to the doctor to ensure that I use the right meds since I have so many now. They insisted on an X-ray which showed only swelling. I need to keep icing it down for the next 72 hours, use a splint and take some pain meds. Gotta love it!!!!
Today, Pat and I went to a follow-up visit with my cardiologist, Dr. Mo Zeineddin. He said that he found some minimal blockage in the carotid arteries in the neck but, he assured me that this would not interfere with my upcoming surgery.
Dr. Zeineddin assured me that my surgeon, Dr. Mueller, is HIS "go to" surgeon and I should make the appointment for surgery and move forward NOW. Dr. Zeineddin does not make regular trips to Kyle but, he would be there for me if I need him; unless it is middle of night kinda thing and I need something ASAP.
Dr. Zeineddin also agrees that the bio-prosthesis valve (tissue) is the best decision. He said that the tissue valves are made stronger with today's technology and I may not need another valve ever. He feels that the tissue valve should last until I am 70-75 years of age.
He said that the alternative mechanical valve has several undiserable things besides the cumadin. The mechanical valve, by nature, damages the red blood cells as it moves through the heart and they are more prone to infections. The worst part is still the cumadin dosage and checking the levels for life.
Feeling comfortable with my decisions, I called Dr. Mueller's office to make the appointment for surgery but, the receptionist is going to check with the doctor one more time before putting me on the books. We are still looking at the week of November 12th; hoping for the 12th since my friend MaryAnn is coming in on the 13th.
Funny thing.... Pat and I both thought "Wow, it seems like we are scheduling a routine tooth cleaning instead of major heart surgery."
What a full day!!! This morning I met with my primary doctor to discuss a firm plan to get my diabetes under better control. My A1C was at 7.0 which is considered under control but not where either one of us want it to be. We are adding Glimiperide back to the drug mix but with caution since it makes my blood sugar bottom out. We are also addressing the continued high level of cholesterol and calcium. I made an appointment to meet with a endocrinologist for diabetes and calcium levels (could be a growth on the para thyroid).
My friend, JoAn, met me at Dr. Michael C. Mueller's office; my heart surgeon. Dr. Mueller won a major brownie point with me as he apologized for looking scruffy. He had worked a long night in surgery taking care of one of his patients and shaving was low priority for him today.
Finally, he explained exactly what was going on and what I need to do from here. It appears that I was born with a bicuspid aortic heart valve instead of a tricuspid heart valve. There is major calcification which has caused the valve not open or close properly and this is causing heart to become enlarged because it is working harder to push the blood through anyway. It cannot be repaired; it must be replaced.
The immediate problem is the multiple blockages; right artery = 90%, renal artery = 75% and LAD artery (back of heart) = 75%. This needs to be repaired within the next month.
All of my research has been done on the mechanical valve replacement and everyone has said that this is what I need to do. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! Dr. Mueller HIGHLY recommends that I choose a bioprosthetic valve (pig or cow) versus a mechanical valve.
Mechanical valve will last the rest of my life but, would require taking cumidin every day for the rest of my life. Cumidin is a blood thinner and would cause any cut to be life threatening. It would also require daily monitoring and adjustment of the dosage. Since cumidin and age both cause the skin to become thin, many folks find that this cause bleeding through the skin a real problem in senior years.
Bioprosthetic valves only last 15 - 20 years but, they do not require a blood thinner. This means, that chances are, I will be considering another valve replacement at 70 years old. However, there is a new procedure that is allowing valve replacement through the femur artery Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). Theory of Dr. Mueller is to get the bioprosthetic valve now and in 20 years get a TAVR which should be profected for any heart patients. Only inoperable patients are candidates for the TAVR currently in the USA.
I have further research on several things; which valve, which hospital but, I believe that I have found my surgeon and he will be available in Seton Hays the second week of November. So, I know who will do the surgery, when and where. Now to figure out the what.
I am not sure Pat is so sure. He wants the best and he feels that is the mechanical valve. We are still discussing.
On Friday 10/12, I joined a group of ladies from church and attended the Women of Faith conference in San Antonio, TX. When I was first diagnosed, I decided NOT to attend the conference as I felt it could be dangerous with 90% and 40% blockage in the heart. Needless to say, Jesus decided that this would be good for me spirtually and he (and my friends) took good care of me this past weekend. I cried a whole lot and it was a good thing I had a bunch of tissues. I am now refreshed spirtually and ready to find my heart surgeon.
Today I had an appointment scheduled with Dr. Michael C. Mueller or so I thought. It appears that I missed my appointment on October 11th. Since this is my blog, I say that I never had an appointment on October 11th or at least I was not aware of it. Anyway, they never called me to remind me last week. Now my new appointment with Dr. Mueller is 10/18 and I have another appointment with my primary care doctor on the same day. My next cardiologist appointment is Monday 10/22.
The sonargram test of the carotid artery test today seems to have very good results. The technician certainly could not share much but, he DID say that he did not see anything that would excite the cardiologist. Wooo Hooo... finally, some good news.
Several friends have reminded me that I have not written an update. Well, nothing really new has happened; in a wait state. On October 16th, I have an appointment with a heart surgeon named Dr. Michael C. Mueller at the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons. Also, on October 16th, I have a Carotid Artery test where we believe there is further blockage.
Tomorrow, I am going to San Antonio Alamodome to attend the Women of Faith Conference. At first, I decided that I really should not go and take a chance of something happening. Recently, I have decided that I NEED to go but, I need to be very selfish and stay focused on taking it slow and keeping me as safe as possible. I have placed my health in God's hands but, I am not going to push it too far.
The Women of Faith conference is so uplifting and encouraging, I so look forward to getting re-charged with faith. I will need the spirtual strength to get through this surgery.
It seems that every hiccup feels like something is wrong. I am very paranoid now. I started insisting that Pat do all the driving but, that scared me way too much so, now I am driving as usual.
Today I changed my appointment for a second opinion surgeon to Dr. Mueller but, not until 10/16. Not that I am rushing to have the suregery but, 10/16 seems like a long time for that appointment. However, my cardiologist says that this is a normal ASAP kinda track to follow.
Last night was National Night Out which I had volunteered to head up. I tried to keep everything low key for me and with all of my friends and committee members, they made that a reality. We had a great time.
Today I met with a cardiologist that I worked with in 2008; Dr. Mohammad Zeineddin. He recognized me and still had notes and results in his archives from my previous visits. He summed up my reason for being there pretty quickly and confirmed that I was on the right track.
We began to talk about where do I go from here and the "gameplan". We discussed why I was looking for a new quarterback (cardiologist). Based on that information he quickly made several recommendations. One, is a change in surgeon (not becuase of skills and/or experience) but, it is because of my need for that "warm fuzzy feeling" during consultations. Second, that I may need to get a 2nd and maybe 3rd opinions from heart surgeons until I feel that I have found a perfect fit. Third, is that although there is a huge amount of urgency in having the surgery done, there is time to find the "perfect fit" surgeon.
Dr. Zeineddin definitly recommends a mechanical valve replacement such as the On-X or the St. Jude. This requires the use of cumidin and runs a real risk of bleeding issues but, if taken as directed and monitor often as prescribed, all will work just fine.
The next step is to check on the carotid artery blockage that he had found years ago and make additional appointments for 2nd and/or 3rd opinions.
Alot of preparation, research and praying is still going on. Thanks to everyone!!!!
What a surprise and what a blessing! On 9/24/2012, I went to Seton Hays Hospital for a heart catherter test to follow-up on an inconclusive echocardiogram. Dr. James Warren was expecting to find a troublesome bicuspid valve and aortic stenosis. After meeting Dr. Stephen Dewan in recovery after the test, Dr. Dewan recommended an immediate aortive valve replacement and a triple by-pass. He found 90% blockage and 40% blockage and they were ready to do the surgery NOW.
I did some research and purchased "The Patients Guide to Heart Valve Surgery" book authored by Adam Pick. I learned that I needed a second opinion, although I really like Dr. Dewan but, everyone says a second opinion is the "right thing to do".
I had a second opinion surgeon appt scheduled in 20 days but, Dr. Dewan's office called and straightened me out; I needed a second opinion ASAP as I needed the surgery ASAP. So, I have made several appointments with different surgeons trying to accomodate ASAP. My second opinion surgeon appt. is scheduled on Wednesday 10/3.
Since I seem to be set on the fact that Dr. Dewan would be my surgeon, why was I still not feeling like I did not have a whole plan? Then as my friend Heather listened to me talk things out, she pinpointed my problem; I needed a second opinion cardiologist. I called my cardiologist that I saw years ago and I was able to get an appt. on Monday to talk to him.
Things are moving fast. Surgery could be as soon as next weekend.