It has been almost two years since I last updated this site. I'm still tick'in and except for being two years older I am doing pretty well. I still go to my exercise class almost everyday. The old people there look at me and say to themselve "who in te hell does that old man think he is jumping rope like a young person." I find that the more exercise I do the better I feel. I also do a four mle walk that goes up and down some steep hills. I'm leaving today to go sking in West Virginia. I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to report back here this time next year.
It has been a long time since I've updated my journal. I think I have spoken with almost everyone since returning home. I am now six months post surgery. My recovery has not been a walk in the park but I feel good and my doctor says I look terrific I don't want to be presumptuous and say I am out of the woods but I too think I am doing well. I go to exercise class every day but Sunday. I have worked hard at rehab and continue to do so. If I have not acknowledged all of my friends and followers I apologize to you. Hopefully, our paths will cross in the near future.
My extended stay in the hospital has definitely had an adverse effect on my recovery time. After four weeks my muscles had atrophied greatly. You might say I had a double recovery to overcome. My legs are coming along fine and I'm beginning to work my upper body with 2 and 3 lb. dunbells. I'm improving. The more I walk the better my gait. Also my endurance. Whoever would have thunk 43 years ago that I would still be here today. I'm bound and determined.
I was treated with Cobalt 60--21 treatments amounting to 4500 rads. over my cervical and mediostinum. Probably the origin of my heart valve problem. I returned to work and flew those big jets for 33 1/2 years. Never missed a scheduled trip. Not a job just a very pleasant lifestyle.
A paracardial window was performed. More than two pints drained from around my heart. I spent six more days in another hospital. I was put on steroids for three days to curb the inflamation. I think it worked. Several days later I flew home.
I remember back 43 years to Jan 68. I had recently been hired as a new hire pilot with Eastern Airlines. I went to Super Bowl II. The next morning I awakened with a substantial sized lump on the left side of my neck at the collar bone. Itwas diagnosed as Hodgkins.
I always thought of myself as a young 68. I don't look it and I certainly don't act it. I kept very active. Swim, gym, walk,
snow ski, etc. I had my AVR and MVR (bovine) and one bypass. I spent 11 days in ICU and 10 more days in a secondary unit. I did not feel like I was progressing. The p/t'er thought I was dragging it. I don't drag anything but could only walk short distances. Unbeknown to me I was building up paracardial fluid. I fell twice while walking.
I returned home Saturday evening. Watched the race on Sunday and the football game is now on. I did not post earlier as my computer is on the second floor and this is my first trip up here. I'm progressing but I realize I have a long way to go. I'm taking calls at 513 834 9805. If you do call please limit your call to four minutes. I appreciate all of your well wishes, prayers, and support. Gary
I;m referring to my sister Gayle. Gayle is four years younger than me and still works two days a week in the operating room at Valley Hospital in Las Vegas. She set me up with what she calls the Dr.'s Dr. The best surgeon in the area. When I met Dr. Wiencek I immediately thought "what a gentleman." My mind was at ease.
Now back to Gayle. She invited me out to stay at her house forever long it would take with her and her husband Ed. I had not seen this much of Gayle in 50 years. I'm sitting here in the corner of my room looking out the window crying as I think of what she has done for me. Only recently have I realized how emotional I can be. What greater love could one have for another. I love you Gayle and I feel eternally indebted to you. Now Gayle and Ed did not feel sorry for me. They have pushed, shoved, prodded and anything else it took to make me take that next step. I'm also grateful for the concern, encouragement, and knowledge of my ex wife Joel. Tomorrow is my big day as I will be flying home.
Home from the hospital again. This is the first time I have felt like sitting with my computer. The plan is to fly home on Saturday. Would you believe I bought a first class ticket on Delta. I realize I'm a first class guy and I have purchased very few tickets in my lifetime I only wish I were climbing back into the left hand seat of my DC9. It has been almost nine years now and I have missed it from day one. I can still close my eyes reach up and hit all the switches in proper sequence light er up and go. Oh well, I can dream can't I.
I appreciate all of you who are following my blog. Especially people like Chuck, Jessie, and Rich who have sent me repeated notes of concern and encouragement and my new found friends on HVJ. Hope to see you in Cincy next week.
This is Gayle again. Tuesday we spent almost 3 hours at pcp's office(waiting) and got referral to see Cardiologist who followed Gary for 3 weeks in hospital. Couldn't get appointment without referral!!! Needed it so he could do a repeat echo in a week. I had to beg and insist that they give us an appointment THIS week, which was then given on Wednesday morning. Still on oxygen @ 2 liters, Gary was SO weak. As he walked to treatment room to see doctor, he fainted again. NO INJURY!! Repeat echo was done immediately instead of having to make another appointment. So the fainting was a blessing! Still same amount of fluid around heart. Cardiac rehab in house reccommended, but order needs to come from surgeon due to insurance. What a pain! So my husband took Gary back to our house and I went to work. I saw surgeon who discharged Gary last Friday and his recomendation was to go back to hospital, but to first call surgeon who performed the surgery. So I called him on his direct line and he arranged a direct admit for Thursday afternoon for surgery in the evening to do a pericardial window operation. So that happened last night, and he drained over 400ml af fluid! Gary should start feeling better now. Drain will remain for two days. Hopefully Gary will be making entries here as he should have more energy and strength.
Things are SLOWLY improving. Spent time out in the fresh air and sunshine yesterday and today. Walked outside about 60 feet on just 2 liters of oxygen today. Watched Nascar on TV, but sorta fell asleep! I guess the body needs the rest after the activity.
We left the hospital at 3:15pm, got home to Gayle's house by 4:30. Appetite miraculously returned!!!! Sour krout, pork, mashed potatoes never tasted SO good! Probably will stay here about 2 weeks if everything goes well. Still on oxygen at 2 liters. Looking forward to outdoor short walks tomorrow.
Still hospitalized and on oxygen; retaining fluid, have fluid around heart. Probably congestive heart failure. Still weak. Got to go outside in wheelchair yesterday for a breath of fresh air and sunshine. Looking forward to another outing today. Still don't have a discharge date.
WBC is coming down...good good! Heart rate looks better, blood pressure still low. Retaing fluid. They're trying to get this fluid thing in balance. Walked a little. Had first shower today! We're hoping for discharge Tuesday???
Well, still in hospital. On antibiotics. WBC is higher than it should be. If still elevated tomorrow, will do cat-scan to see if there is any infection behind sternum. No fever though. Could be pneumonia. But feeling better. Got a little dehydrated, so Dr. ordered a small bag of IV fluid. Had a vagal episode. Now realize the need for drinking enough water.
All cardiac drips are discontinued!!! Walked 60 feet and that wiped him out. Will walk more tomorrow. Probably will move out of SICU then to another floor. He's starting to get up and down unassisted, but slowly. Positive attitude!
Still in surgical ICU and improving slowly.
Able to get out of bed into chair with help, and sit about 2 hours. Still trying to regulate blood pressure and heart rate with the medication and external pacemaker. Again, not to be alarmed. This is not uncommon. It will get better! Ate breakfast today.
This is Gayle (Gary's sister). We arrived at hospital at 1PM for check-in for 4PM scheduled surgery. Got bumped a couple hours due to another emergency surgery. No food or drink since night before. General surgery schedule was light; Gary was the only patient in pre-op, so he was able to be up and walking around with his IV pole. He was visited by EVERYONE from his operating room during the duration of his wait - ten in all. Much was explained and repeated over and over. He was very understanding about the wait. Finally at 8:40PM he was wheeled into the OR, surgery began at 9:30 and finished at 12:30AM. He did get both the Aortic and Mitral valves replaced, and one coronary bypass graft. All went well, and he is spending a few days in surgical ICU where he gets excellent care. Thank you all for prayers and words of encouragement.
It's Friday morning and I will be leaving for the hospital soon. Am I afraid? no. Am I nervous? I don't think so. Am I apprehensive? I would be lying if I said no but I compare it to flying my big jet airplane. Many passengers were apprehensive when they got on my plane but they were in good hands as I was the pilot. Likewise, I feel like I am in very good hands with my surrgeon. I have total confidence in him.
I want to thank my family members, friend, and new found friend on HVJ for their well wishes, prayers, and encouragement. They are appreciated. A special thanks goes out to my uncle Wayne, Aunt Joyce, and my cousin Nancy. I was going to do my recovery with them in Cleveland. A special thanks goes out to my sister Gayle for getting me lined up with the busiest heart surgeon in Las Vegas. And to Gayle and her husband Ed who are housing and feeding me prior to and after my surgery. I don't know about Ed though. I think he might be trying to fatten me up. He insists I eat everthing he prepares. I must add that he is a masterful cook/chef. And then there is Adam Pick. Adam is a dual heart valve recipient and the author of "Heart Valve Surgery for Patients." He is also responsible for this website. I also want to pay tribute to the V.A.M.C.'s in both Cincinnati and Cleveland. I had never been to a V.A. medical facility until June of this year. I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of care and the way I was treated by the supporting cast. If I had to rate the V.A. I would give them a 99.
I have a few last minute things to pack and then it will be time to go. I'm ready.
P.S. I was ready in Cleveland too.
My surgery date has been set for this Friday afternoon, Oct. 15th. This is not something I am looking forward to but I have realized for sometime now that it needs to be done. My sister Gayle will be posting updates for me until I am able to resume.
My brother in law drove me over to meet my heart surgeon today. My sister met us at his office. He impressed me as being a real gentleman and a very good communiccator. My sister who works in the operating room with him has told me he is an excellent surgeon. What better recommendation could I have than one from someone who works so closely with him. I feel very fortunate to have had her assistance in helping me to find my surgeon. My surgery will be performed as soon as we get the go ahead from my insurance company.
Most people go to Las Vegas to gamble or to take in shows. I'm going to Las Vegas to have my heart valve surgery. I will meet with my surgeon on the 6th and hopefully the surgery will be performed in the next couple of days. It has been a long time and like I have been told-- get it taken care of while you are still reasonably healthy. I'm ready.
Although I feel fine at present I realize I am in need of having my aortic valve replaced. There have been some changes. Instead of going to the Cleveland V.A. I will be going to Las Vegas for my surgery. My sister Gayle is and has been an O.R. technician for many years. I'm planning on having my surgery performed by a surgeon she has worked with and reccommends very highly. It looks like it will now be some time in October.
I returned home to Cincinnati today the 31st of August. I had two more diagnosyic tests performed before leaving the Cleveland V.A. Med. Center. My surgery was set back due to several other people needing emergency surgery while mine is still considered elective. I will be rescheduled in the near future.
To my family members, friends, and acquaintenances who have had their own serious health issues I sincerely hope you are all doing well. To the rest of you I hope you will enjoy good health always. As for me I am feeling fine. However in listening to my heart instead of going bup bup bup bup it goes bup squish. That sound is regurgitation of my aortic valve and for me to have any chance of an extended and healthy life the valve must be replaced. Although I feel fine I have been watching my treadmill times diminish by two minutes each successive year. The diagnosis is called aortic stenosis. That is a narrowing of the chamber where the aortic valve is located. I think the problem is congenital. As I enterd into my upper years the valve began to calcify (stiffen) which prevents it from opening and closing properly. I am in Cleveland at present and will enter the Louis Stokes V.A.M.C. tomorrow 29 Aug and surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.