One might ask how you can compare having a garage spot to having AVR Surgery. Well, you can. We've been in NY for almost 3 years and for 2 1/2 of those years I rotated with the doorman to get a parking spot on our block. How fortuitous that on Oct 1 we finally made the list for an indoor spot in our building. Now not only can I make plans not dependent on where my car is parked but as I gaze outside at the cars who have been permanently bulldozed into their sidewalk spot by the plow - the fact that we are indoors is reemphasized.
Does that compare with AVR surgery - well no - but its up there on the list.
At this time of year everyone gives thanks and I have so much to be thankful for.
Poor spouse forced to be a cultural escort!
AVR surgery turns out not to be such a bad gig after all. I'm on the mend and trying to push myself to walk more. But the best result is that Artie has not complained about all the shows and museums he is "shlepped" to.
I must truly be crazy - on Sunday we had standing room tickets for Merchant of Venice with AL Pacino - probably one of the best acting performances ever. Even with the major blizzard in NY every seat was taken but there was an empty row right in front of us (probably a group from NJ who couldn't make it in) so of course - no one needed to ask me twice to sit. Since tickets were going for $300 - $1000 on EBAY - our $25 standing room spots were the deal of the century.
We also took the family to Radio City for the Xmas show - and to think that my son's mother=in=law was once a rockette! Artie seemed to like the show best of all - I could see it once a decade.
Finally feel like I'm back in my life and not an observer - We actually planned a short warm climate vacation for the end of January. That will be much welcomed. Of course we'll have to separate from the dog - Maggie is always first in Artie's view.
In reading through all the other journals on this site I've come to the conclusion that there is a reason that Cleveland Clinic is rated #1. Those who have written seem to have had less pain. speedier recovery and less complications. Hopefully I won't need to compare these facts again.
This has truly been a year to appreciate and give pause to what life is all about.
Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year and some resolution to all the world's troubles.
the mantle is passed to my dear friend Mona who had a knee replacement today. there was a cancellation in the doctor's schedule so she got a call yesterday to come in for pre-op at Hosp for Special Surgery using the same doctor - Dr Sculco - that did Artie's hip.
Its easier when you have to make a quick decision - especially if - as she was- you're in pain. Poor Howard will be driving her around for the next few months and taking orders but the good news is that the surgery was a success.
As for me - except for my "loose wire" I'm really on the mend. My niece checks in each day to encourage me to walk and so I am - there's enough to do in NY to keep one busy - and this weekend we get a sleepover with each grandchild.
A little political aside - thank heaven for lame duck sessions!
For those who celebrate Xmas -a happy and merry - We may even get to see the tree at Rockefeller Center tomorrow.
actually got on the phone to see what the problem was. I described the pain and he confirmed that I do indeed have wires and that if it was causing pain - he could anesthetize the area and remove it. If there's anyone on the journal who has experienced this and can shed some light it would be much appreciated. My email is email@example.com
Well, my caregiver has flown the coop - Artie
needed a respite from NY since he's really a country boy at heart so for Wed - Sat he's in the Berks and Im in NY. 2 good choices.
However, he was an angel before he left he drove me around Manhattan so I could do a batch of errands. Unfortunately, we chose all the wrong streets and got behind every
ambulance and traffic jam. For a man with no patience I can't complain. Since its about 10 degrees in Otis I'm happier to be in NY. A single man in Otis is almost like a single guy in Florida - He already has two dinner invitations!
Its first sinking in how concerned Artie really was - Maybe I was naive in not being worried about the outcome of the surgery but he apparently worried enough for the both of us.
Jess and I saw a show yesterday PM and then I actually got my hair cut and if the truth be told - colored. Makes one feel so much better. The only sad thing was the only one who really got to see it last night was my doorman and I'm sure he didn't really notice.
Its now day 25 since the surgery and a lot of the residual pain has subsided. I've even begun walking on the treadmill in our gym. Funny but my energy level is inconsistent - yesterday was high so today I pay the price. Lucky for me I have good friends who call and watch over me and even my relatives from Israel have been calling to check in.
I find in talking to many of you that you keep up with this journal and of course its easier than spending hours on the phone. Thanks for being there.
Well apparently taking a double dose of Ambien because one doesn't do the trick may not be the smartest thing to do. I slept till 11:30 AM and then after breakfast went back to sleep for the rest of the day. Thats not a mistake I will duplicate. While yesterday and the weekend in general were filled with friends and family - my grandson's birthday party - dinner with the kids= and on Sunday the Black Swan with my deqar friend Roz - probably a movie I'd recco for those in touch with their feminine side - I liked it and thought Natalie Portman was spectacular. Today on the other hand was a complete wipeout. I remember the day in a haze. Didn't walk at all - Well, tomorrow is the start of a real attempt to schedule walking for exercise and building up my strength. Artie is going to take a few days to head up to the Berkshires on Wednesday but I think its too cold with snow for me to attempt it. Jess and I will have a sleepover and maybe I can convince Michael to spend a night in the city.
I never got to hear Eric Cantor at the Y last night - by 7PM I was wiped. Well, I only would have heckled him anyway.
Thanks to all for your calls thoughts and cards - they really are uplifting.
What a Day this has been - what a great mood I'm in -
Journal posted on December 9, 2010
Today - 18 days (chai) post surgery - to be in New York during the holidays is always magical. Today even more so - First visit with my cardiologist at Columbia PResbyterian. Not too shabby to go to his offices on East 60th Street between 5th and Madison right across from Barneys. Best yet - all my fears were founded but unnecessary.
Apparently I do have titanium wires in my chest (feels like a breast plate under the skin. The pain will go away in time. The clicking I feel is not my heart valve moving - everything is in good place and
intact. Dr Engel answered all my concerns - still said walking is the best medicine - that I can travel in a two months - and even mountain climb if I want ( not for me).
The pain is really minimal at this point and I even got an Rx for more Ambien. I've actually been able to sleep.
Since we were in the heart of midtown - we had lunch at rouge tomate - very trendy- light fare - nicely done. We certainly did enough walking today and it felt good to be outside in the cold fresh air. Yesterday I actually finished reading Adam Pick's heart valve surgery book to glean what I could about whats in store in the next few weeks. Apparently this type of surgery often leads to depression but I've vowed to keep my spirits up and reach out to friends and family often.
After resting at home - tonight was epecially lovely- we had a post Chanukah dinner with good friends and their family.
Thats really so special to share. Artie stepped up to the plate and made batches of potato pancakes and apple sauce which was definitely appreciated and a big hit.
He's itching to go to the Berkshires - maybe we'll try next week for a few days.
I guess I have too much time on my hands - I bought tickets for Eric Cantor (future majority whip of the House of Reps). He's speaking a the 92nd Street Y. I was curious to see how he is received in this bastion of liberalism. I spent a good hour or so printing out his right of right conservative voting record. He's against everything I feel strongly about. I'm hoping I can phrase a killer question that forces him to expose his ultraconservative views. But, he's a politician so Im sure he'll dance around anything I can ask.
Thanks one and all for your good wishes - numerous bountiful gifts and just for being you.
Somehow it seems easier to take my walks in the hallway or lobby than to actually go outside. But today I've decided thats cheating and a walk in the fresh air would be good. Maybe even a movie - The King's English = later today. The tylenol seems to ease the pain which is not overwhelming but I believe that if you are doing something it takes your mind off whatever else is going on. I love having company so if anyone wants to stop by just let us know. We can go out to dinner or brunch with very little advance notice. I did give up my tickets for a play Monday night - that might have been pushing it a little.
After having read Elizabeth Edwards' last statement the day before she died - I found that the words resonated. She faced so much that was personally difficult in her own life but somehow found the spirit and resilience to look to tomorrow. Thats an example I can follow. Each of lives in the present but has no idea what tomorrow will bring. I look at the business card my Rabbi gave out several years ago and turn it often. One side says "Its later than you think" and the reverse says "Its never too late"
We're headed out for a 10 minute walk in the sunlight. Anyone for bridge?
Today -Sunday was the fifth night of Chanukah. Our children and grandchildren came for holiday dinner to light the candles and sing some songs.
While Artie actually made - turkey - potato pancakes and home made applesauce - the rest of us "walked" 2 blocks to Carl Shurz park for the tree lighting and caroling and the Menorah being lit.
To say that the glow of our candles burned bright is an understatement. You forget that this holiday celebrates a miracle of survival and salvation. How appropriate for me. Happy Holidays to all and continued thanks for your calls visits and support. They make the day something to look forward to.
I'm not experiencing any real pain - was able to walk to the park 3 x today when just yesterday the corner and back was enough. Last night we had dinner out like real civilized people - and walked home the 3 blocks! I keep trying to remember not to let myself get too tired but it certainly feels good to be back among the living.
KMy friends will know I'm really back when I start sending out more political emails of petitions to sign.
Happy Holidays to all
What a wonderful idea this journal is for it allows me to let everyone who cares about me know how I am doing without having to spend hours on the phone repeating the details.
I know a lot of you are still reading "the never ending saga of "when the cows come home" and other daytime episodes because so many of you have referenced things Artie or I have said.
Today was a day of progress - I was able to shower and wash my hair and the walking is getting easier. Their is a dull pain but I assume that goes away in time and the tylenol seems to help. Joan and Terry brought fabulous chicken soup and sandwiches from the diner and later Sue and Steve stopped by for a short visit. Short is the operative word and Sue -having read my blog- opted to bring thank you notes instead of high cholesterol sweets.
Interestingly enough I did take a nap briefly between friends visits and found myself dreaming that I had fallen several times - I guess my superego is playing tricks.
Artie and Maggie had the best day of all - they got to go to the Hamptons to run on the beach - the Salt air and ocean sounded delicious.
For those of you who are co AVRers - I'm finding that sleep is easier and the pain really manageable - what I do have to do is continue the walking.
Tomorrow marks my 2 week birthday.
Thanks to all of you who are making it easy.
Well, our living room is inundated with beautiful and exotic glowers - and like my lounging pajamas - they all match the decor.
Each day its necessary to acknowledge all my well wishers for the calls - emails - and general positive feelings. Now that I'm on the mend (I hope) reality has set in - It wasn't real going into surgery - post op in ICU - in the hospital or even returning home- Sitting in a chair - so getting up is a little cautious - taking a shower - one step at a time - but walking to the corner diner for breakfast this morning was monumental. Now I can feel the effects and sense the reality of my new present. I try not to cough - after yesterday I learned that doing too much is ridiculous - Reality is that this has happened - I will heal - and life goes on. My fifteen minutes of fame will pass as it should. I'm lucky - everything seems to be healing without complications and last night I actually got a full night's sleep - that hasn't happened in months.
Today - I walked to the diner - tomorrow maybe the park two blocks away - My mind says - theater - the Met - museums - my heart says - not so fast.
A sunny caribbean beach sounds very appealing right now.
Though I won't be wearing low cut dresses or bathing suits - I will be wearing a smile.
Thanks for keeping my spirits up. I hope everyone is doing as well
Its been 4 days since we left Columbia PResbyterian and each day is an improvement on the last. I'm lucky to have my "wife" Phyllis she's been available to help with everything from showering to dinner prep and she's a very good cook I might add. I've tried to pace and schedule the company and the telephone calls so I don't run out of energy. I've also been taking the tylenol extra strength to stay ahead of pain. The only real pain I have is when I cough or turn on my side and on a scale of 1 -10 - at its worst its about a 6 so clearly I'm fairing well.
I thought I'd be able to be out and walk to the corner and back but its seems much easier to try the apt building hallways and lobby. If anyone wants to know how many fleur de lis patterns there are - just ask.
Last night we lit the Menorah with our daughter Jessica who is always good company - In our family we don't usually play dreydel games but instead bet on which candle will go out first. For the first night of Chanukah there are only 2 (the Shamash and the first night candle). So its not that exciting - later in the week wnen there are many more it becomes a game of skill. You have to try and calculate how each of the other candles will effect the one you've chose.
Sometimes one burns brightly and another is just the remaining ember and guess which wins. I guess we are all like the candles and have to be tended.
Today Michael our son accompanied Artie to his medical appointment with n neuroncologist for a follow up visit about a benign tumor. As Artie left he said - if he doesn't like what he hears from the doctor - he'll be very upset - This to a spouse who just had unexpected open heart surgery. I'm expecting the news to be fine.
Thanks continually to all for your good wishes and encouragement - and especially to Joan for the delicious ciao bello ice cream. I don't know if its on a heart healthy diet but it is good.
Today day 9 and I got to take a shower and wash my hair! What a feeling. How simple things can bring much pleasure. Each day my strength seems better and I'm certainly "back" in the world. I've begun giving "suggestions" to those around me and look more outward than inward.
I plan to spend part of tomorrow reading the last part of Adam's book and some of the journals of those who are several weeks ahead. I'm interested to get a consensus of how long this recovery will actually take.
My friend, Mona, who is facing possible double knee surgery soon came by early AM with her husband and delegated chauffeur - with the perfect pair of lounging pajamas.
Silk asian motif that button down the front. Now the men reading this might not be able to relate but they really fit my needs to a tee and match our architectural design in the apartment as well. Little things make you feel great.
Phyllis appeared for day 2 and made wonderful soup and in general was a pleasure to have on hand. I actually got to do something I rarely do - took a well deserved nap in the PM. Our dear friends stopped by in the evening bearing delicious desert (maybe not heart healthy)
but really good - and in general a day to get my bearings. I'd like to try the Met this week and then I check myself - what am I thinking? Better to plan celebrating Chanukah with our grandchildren and lighting the Menorah - Somehow the image of the few Jews who held out for a miraculous amount of time against the Roman army bears similarity to what we've just been through. Masada - a fight of survival against all odds - I can relate to that.
Once again I thank all of those who have sent their well wishes and positive thoughts. I feel them and have made them part of me.
Going through open heart surgery, or for that matter any major life changing event, - followed by 8 days in intensive care and step down certainly gave me time to pause. At first the morphine gives a hazy lack of reality - you certainly feel no pain. In ICU I was aware that Michael, Jessica, and of course, Artie were there in funny yellow gowns - with Jessica almost assaulting the ICU nurses to use Purell immediately. She is her mother's daughter. You're really not interested in communicating for any length of time - but there is a nice glow created by the outpouring of fellowship from those on this website and from friends and family. Each of you in ways small and large impacted on bringing me to this new sense of reality. Maybe it is foolish to say that at no time- once I had made up my mind to proceed with the surgery and made the decision as to doctor and date - was I afraid. Resigned but ready since it was out of my hands (no pun intended). The same cannot be said of Artie, Jess, and Mike and the rest of you who were in my corner. I was too busy trying to be strong and ironically trying to calm those who would stand and wait for the results. Not until I read Artie's journal entry and his statement of relief did I internalize what this has meant for my family. How wealthy and lucky I have been.
Often lying in bed or sitting up in a chair- my memory called to mind the image of my mother-in-law, Ruth, who many of you knew well. She lived with us for the last few years of her life and for the last year there were many hospitalizations - blood tests - assaults to the body. Until you walk in those shoes - the full import of what happens when someone is very ill and how they are treated leaves much to be questioned. Just as they say there are no atheists in a foxhole - I'd like to coin the phrase that there is no one against health care for all if you are in the ICU, Food for thought.
Columbia Presbyterian is a well run machine under these circumstances. Out of the hundreds of people who were instrumental to my care - most were pleasant, effective and knowledgable. I never ended up needing private nursing - each time I rang someone appeared almost immediately to address my concern. To say that the view of the Hudson River and Jersey skyline also helped is only fair. Sunrise and sunset are wonderful sites.
For the first time that I can remember - I allowed myself to be pampered and accepted help. I took my time going to each next step physically -kind of like deciding whether to have a kindergardener be the oldest or youngest in the class. I wanted to regain as much strength as possible and do a little more each day. I allowed myself of spending 2 extra days in the hospital. It made sense to me. Today - on being released - I was able to walk a sufficient distance - dress myself with a little help and take care of my personal needs even though help was available.
The smartest thing for those of you who know her is that I was able to have Phyllis available and waiting at the apartment. She provided the same warmth, charm, and intelligence she has throughout our relationship and since she is not working - can help most days as needed. I always used to call Phyllis my wife because she could fulfill all the tasks we women do so well - and with more patience than the male counterpart. She had no problem doing those things your husband loses patience for.
Just picture Artie being told where to put each piece of laundry- or taking direction for more than 5 minutes on where to carefully place every item. He ran out of patience when I asked him to fill my prescriptions, and he found they wouldn't be ready until Wed. Now need I point out we live in the heart of Manhattan with a Duane Reade on every corner? Of course he rose to the occasion almost immediately.
If anyone needs Phyllis full or part time in New York city after Jan 15, when she returns from visiting family in England, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm looking forward to spending time with each of our dear friends and family one on one and for longer periods as I regain strength.
This saga needs to come to an end for tonight but its my main connection to all of you whom I hold dear.
My thoughts are with Nancy tonight who has her surgery tomorrow with Dr Gerardi at Cornell Weill. Good luck. It's routine for him, and he's an excellent surgeon but when it's you having the surgery, nothing is routine.
Thanks for all your bovine jokes. They were moooost appreciated
Maggie's home. Diane's coming home - 8th day Mon Nov 29 @1
Journal posted on November 28, 2010
Maggie was with our dear friends in the Berkshires for 7 days and had the time of her life with Peter and Judy. They also have a Portuguese Water Dog named "Nina."
I felt guilty taking Maggie back because they find her a calming presence on both people and other dogs- both are trained for obedience, agility, and as therapy dogs.
Diane was wearing her pink warmup suit when I arrived at the hospital today. walking about 200 feet, using the walker only as a guide. There was a male patient walking the halls at a brisk pace. He just received a new heart. That was amazing to me - he was doing so well. There's also a young girl in the same room as Diane that just received a new metal aorta valve -metal because she's so young - she will have to be on coumadin the rest of her life but so what? This was her 2nd operation, the first was preformed when she was 23 by cleaning out her valve, it lasted 17 years. She will be going home Thursday of this week and will be fine.
I'm witnessing the best of the best here. Diane is coming home tomorrow- I can't believe it. I better hit the gym more then ever - she's going to drag me to all the places I wrote about in her story- twice as many operas, twice as many broadway shows (The Great Gatsby is 7 hours long. Help!!)
Diane's back-I thought I was going to lose her. This Thanksgiving was a gift of a lifetime. Her second birthday is 11/22/2010 (she's a week old)- the day of her operation, a day that I will never forget.
Good luck, Nancy! And also, I hope you also have a smart and cute surgeon - makes things a bit easier.
It's important to note that in situations like this you need a caregiver who is loving, caring, and patient. Artie's certainly not the latter. He's also taken over my blog. It's time to take it back. This is a lonesome road that only the patient walks, but it's very important to surround yourself with family and friends who are supportive and caring. How fortunate we are to have both. Day 4 post surgery I'm shocked at how well I'm feeling. Not all that much pain except when I laugh or cough. I never did get to see Dr. Stewart before surgery or since....where are those blue eyes? Columbia Presbyterian provides great care, and if you order from the 9th floor concierge, great food. For now, love, care, and a big thank you to all that have taken part in this journey. Note: this was written by the patient and not Arthur. If there are misspelled words, it's because Arthur typed it.
The little things that occur each day lift both of our spirits without question. The telephone calls, the blog comments, friends letting us know that this will be a very special Thanksgiving for them. Little things like my dear friends Marilyn and Scott taking me to dinner last night days after he lost his father, Harry (posted in photo section), our friends Roz and Len, and Bardara and Michael spending time with me over breakfast, and a pre-surgery brunch the night before Diane went in for surgery. Thank you all from the bottom my heart. Little things that people say like, "Dr. Stewart is very good looking, what blue eyes", can't help but bring a smile to our faces. Our cardiologist, internist Dr. Arun Gupta and his wife Neelem (gastroenterologist) calling us not as our doctors, but as our friends and pillars.
Diane walked from the bed at the window overlooking the Hudson River to the bathroom this morning with walker assistance for stability, and she was able to do the thing people don't write about but nevertheless it shows that the system is getting back to normal. Diane has no pain, Vicodin seems to solve that. The surgery seemed to spike her blood sugar (from under 100 to 200), so she taking insulin til the body regulates itself, and heparin to prevent the formation of blood clots. I'm thrilled at her progress and looking to see her continual improvement and home by this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and if you're scheduled for surgery or out of surgery all the best to you and your family. If I can put 1 person's mind at ease, then that's all I could ask for. Artie
Diane's much more alert and strong today. The move from ICU to step-down could have happened yesterday but no rooms were available. Diane's new location is 5 Hudson North 5th floor room 44-2. The address is 168-73 Ft. Washington Avenue, the cross Streets are 168th and Ft. Washington Avenue. Tomorrow Diane should be walking the floor.
34 Hrs. after Surgery (See photo under the camel herder)
Journal posted on November 23, 2010
Diane is doing fine. Tomorrow out of ICU. Most of the tubes, wires and hoses will be removed. Looking forwrd to having her walk today. Use of the spirometer to clear and help inflate the lungs a must. Trying for 500ml consistently, then up it to 750ml. Not much pain, it's kept under control, otherwise she feels fine. Diane has a little depression that has set in, blaming herself for not taking care of herself all these years. I personally feel that Aortic Stenosis is predisposed or most likely hereditary. Please post if you have an answer. I'm not a doctor, only her husband. It's a question I'm going to ask. I'm looking forward to Diane coming home by Friday or Saturday. Thank god that this stenosis, if it's going to happen, is happening in 2010 when medical technoligy can treat this almost routinely. Imagine if this occurred 1n earlier years. The sign outside Columbia Presbyterian reads, "Amazing things happen here" - true.
Dad and I recently left mom the ICU after day 2. She's in the ICU, because they're waiting for a bed in the step-down room to open. The ICU is great, because there's 1 nurse for every patient (so we'll take it!).
According to her longtime friend and internist - Dr. Arun Gupta - who spoke with dreamy heart surgeon Dr. Allen Stewart (seriously, check out that photo we posted), Diane's heart is fantastic! She's in great shape, has no blockages, and there's no reason why she won't go home as good - or likely better - than before. The nurses agreed. She's younger and healthier than most people who undergo this surgery and will be fantastic in just days!
Mom is not in pain. She is on percocet, and that's doing the trick so far.
She's tired. The nurses are constantly monitoring, taking blood, and you'd be floored, if you could see all the tubes (8) and beeping things coming off her body (11), and even the weird pumping aquarium sounding machine. She dozes often, but then comes out with a zinger. Her nurse said one of the first things she said yesterday was... "I'm afraid there's a way Sarah Palin could be President." The nurse said that was a first!
Mom seems a bit down, but I suspect she'll go through a range of emotions - some real, some exhaustion and drug-induced. Of course, dad and I have exhausted our range of cow-related jokes, so you have moo-re, please post them here! We read all posts and emails to mom and she loves your cleverness.
They still expect mom to be home Friday or Saturday and by then, I'm sure she'll happily accept visitors.
A new day for the bovine-valved Diane. Diane was seen by the Cardiologist and Physical Therapist already today. She's sitting up now (hurrah for small victories!), but may remain in ICU today and through the night. She's alert and talking to us but very tired (everything beeps and whistles nonstop, and the nurses come and go regularly). Diane had about 1/3 cup of vegtable soup, a few bites of pasta, but otherwise not very hungry. The nurses, however, are enjoying our Magnolia cupcakes. Heart rate and blood pressure normal 100/80.
Reading Diane the well wishes from this guestbook now and she's enjoying hearing from all.
The whole operation was 1:45 minutes. Diane is being moved up to ICU for approx a 24 hour stay then down to step-down for a day or two. She will be in a private room on the fifth floor Milstein building so that she can receive the best Cardio care. Diane's Aortic valve was really calcified, so it was great timing. Diane received a Bovine (cow) not equine valve (horse) because the Bovine was a better fit. There weren't any complications during and after surgery - and Diane will be awake at 4pm. We were told that she can go home Thursday, but I think we will stay till Fri or Sat. Phyllis our former live-in and friend that helped bring up our 2 wonderful children will look after Diane when she is moved from the step-down to a room. Thank you, Dr. Stewart. What a fantastic surgeon and so nice to boot.
Thanks to all who have wished me well and to those who meant to. I've never felt better about the outpouring of love and support from family and friends. Its a sobering time. This is one of those moments you have to face I have an idea of what is ahead - trust in my doctor and the hospital staff- and I got my nails done!
Thanks to Adam who gave us this wonderful book and outlet for what we all go through.
Too late for the first printing but in time for the 2nd
The below from Arlene and Frank
Just want you to know that our heartfelt wishes for a successful procedure are being sent your way. We're all pumped up to hear the good news from Jessica and your good state of mind was palpable after talking to you this afternoon! We love you and can't wait for you to beat it back to the Berks very soon!!
I can't believe the outpouring of friendship from this website and from my friends and family.
I need and welcome your support as tomorrow is "H" day. Thank you to Laurie Nancy, Amy Joanne for your posts and expertise.
Funny what you focus on a day before major surgery - I've made a list of the puns and funny statements contained in people's good wishes:
"we always knew you had a soft spot in your heart" Ken Arlein
"Looking forward to seeing you back in circulation" Gene Claburn
"In Burundi telling a woman she has eyes like a cow is the highest compliment since cows = money. Now we can say you have an aorta like a cow" Andy Cohen
"You're all heart" - a nony mous
A more serious entry to follow but now I'm focusing on important things - like getting a manicure and pedicure.
Today was a day to see our dog off to spend the week with her best friend. Artie gets a much needed reprieve from the elephant in the room for a beautiful drive to the Berkshires.
He of course has a laundry list of items to bring back to NY. Well, while the cats away this mouse trotted off to the Met Museum with good friends. Maybe trotted is the wrong word but apropos if I get an equine valve! My dear friend pointed out that my entire mood had changed since I saw Dr Stewart on Wednesday. Its palpable - I'm smiling and joking and much less frightened.
So why is this entry captioned bad doctor- good doctor?
This part is a word of caution to my fellow valve replacees. After my catheterization a surgeon came to see me in recovery. He shall be nameless here because I'm not sure he realized what effect his words would have on me. I thought that going in to the procedure I knew what the outcome would be - angioplasty - maybe a stent. For me, that certainly was so positive that I called those I knew had had these two procedures.
Imagine my surprise when I was told that I really didn't have vascular disease - didn't need a bypass but did need an aortic valve replacement and very soon. They were ready to admit me at that moment. My husband supported that viewpoint. Here comes the bad doctor part.
I asked what the downside risk was if I waited. All I heard were the words "sudden death" even though the statement was qualified by saying it was only one possibility. What I needed then was to take a deep breath and a step back - This takes some getting used to and I wasn't ready to proceed without having some understanding of where I was on this continuum.
Clearly this doctor needed more sensitivity training.
For the next three days I walked around afraid to take a step for fear that something terrible would happen. I knew my stenosis was .6 which was critical
Now Good Doctor
- Not until I spoke to my cardiologist and then to Dr Stewart and asked them both the same question - What about this sudden death? how likely for me ? I then had an answer I could relate to. Dr Stewart said I probably have been walking around with this degree of stenosis for about a year.
It should not change that dramatically in the next few days. that statement changed my whole way of looking at my diagnosis.
How lucky to be in NY - going into surgery at a great hospital with a doctor whose hands are "golden". I began to look towards the future instead of having the feeling I should put my life into a neat bow.
No wonder I'm smiling.
Ceiling - an unusual topic for a pre heart valve surgery patient. When I had the catheterization last Sunday I spent about an hour staring at the operating room ceiling -every detail - the texture of the acoustic tile - the vents - the lights - the color - a light greyish white. I tried hard to focus on each boring detail to take my mind off the procedure.
On Tuesday night my daughter and I attended the Met to see Carmen. There too I noticed the ceiling and the architectural detail of the performance hall. The gilt patina - the marvelous Austrian crystal chandeliers - the black curtain with a bold red lightening strike.
On Thurs Artie and I saw Bells are Ringing at City Center. There too the ceiling and chandeliers were of great interest to meet. I never noticed their baroque style before and the color of the robins egg blue and opal lights.
For me ceilings have become a metaphor for trying to really focus and enjoy where I am and my surroundings. We spend so much of our days rushing through them to get someplace else. My newest mantra will be to be present in the moment - Today is tomorrow's yesterday - I vow to use it well.
I guess we all feel our mortality at a time like this.
I think I'm all set for Monday's surgery.
Headed out to the Met Museum for some holiday shopping - but really pacing myself. Trying to keep in touch with as many people as possible and lining up visitors for when I'm able. I've read about depression being a factor - so I'm thinking the more I have to look forward to the better off I'll be.
Please write in my guestbook. Let me know what you're doing since you already know what I'm doing. Have a great day.