Well, I am now 7 days until surgery. It has been a wild two months getting to this point. It seems that March 17 was so long ago when Dr Bashore told me that it was time.
Until you get in this position you don’t realize how much work it takes to get here. There are the FMLA forms that have to be completed, disability insurance forms completed, insurance headaches to work through, not including the logistics for Jennifer staying overnight on Thursday in Durham due to the possibility of early surgery. Let’s not forget, training people to cover my job while I am out of work. They are doing great—I don’t think they will even miss me while I am gone.
The easiest part of this process—if there is such a thing—has been making sure the boys are taken care of while we are in Durham. Thanks go out to everyone, including the great staff at Southern Guilford Elementary School, for stepping up to keep the boys schedule as normal as possible.
As many of you know, I am not a great fan of Duke athletics—especially a certain basketball coach—but for the next couple of weeks I will make an exception. We all have Duke shirts to wear next Friday but I’m going to hold mine until I come home so I can give props to the wonderful medical center at Duke. The boys might have to wear their Carolina shirts when they come see me next weekend just to “keep it real.”
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts, well wishes and prayers. Keep it up!
(PS. I wish I had the sound file of the guy from all the James Bond movies that does the count down until the end of the world. You know, the guy with the heavy German accent, "3 minutes und counting.")
It doesn’t seem possible but in 14 days I will be having my aortic valve replaced by Dr Glower at Duke. When we found out on March 17 that it was time, May 22 seemed so far off but it is getting here fast. As I am writing this I realize that I only have one more Friday to work until my surgery but that leaves two Mondays to have to work.
All in all, I should be thankful that I have a job that provides benefits and that I am covered by FMLA. I guess that I am also lucky in the fact that I currently have 64 days of sick time and 33 days of vacation time to use while I am out of work. Then don’t forget to add in the disability insurance that I have been paying for years. (I had that disability insurance before I was ever diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect and after all of these years, it’s time to collect on my payments.)
I am working on my guided imagery and trying to make sure that I have everything ready for the trip and surgery. I know that I have aggravated my wife by constantly talking about the surgery, things I want to make sure we have when we leave and the different things each of you are going through on this road called life, but she is starting to think about the surgery more as we get closer.
I am happy to report that I am in a much better mood today. I think yesterday was just my day to b*%^h, moan and complain.
Today I have been able to spend time with my family and extended family. We went and ate lunch at Bonsai and we all had a good laugh--just about spitting out our food in the process. Those are the things memories are made of.
Now to spend time at home with Jenn and the boys and have Chic-fil-A Herd Pack for dinner and a movie.
So we are now 3 weeks out from surgery and it seems that if things can go crazy, they are. I'm doing okay other than getting tired really easy.
My grandfather was put in the local "regional medical center"--which I am beginning to think is a quack lab. I think that I know more about cardiology that the docs taking care of him. Let's see . . . 88 yo, bypass surgery 15 years ago, 3 arteries now 80% blocked as determined during a cath--but let's not do anything about it while we're in the cath lab and have everything ready to fix the problem. The doc didn't want to place stents because of the need of warfarin, etc. He is already taking aspirin due to the bypass and an aneurism in his back. If he is in the practice that I think, I wouldn't let them work on our dogs. Based upon my research and some of my wife's patients, blood thinners are not always necessary after stents. I wonder if the doc has heard of angioplasty or the "roto-rooter?"
Long story short, just one more reason to not trust the local "regional medical center" and their wonderful docs. Sorry for the rant but it just helps reinforce my decision to have my surgery at Duke.
Here we are—4 weeks away and counting. In just 28 days by now hopefully I will have the surgery behind me and will probably be in la-la land as the anesthetics from surgery wear off and the pain management drugs take over. I’m sure that is going to be a good thing.
I have often wondered what it will feel like when I first start to wake up. I’m sure that I will be so out-of-it that I will not remember. I know there will be pain in the recovery process.
I honestly guess that is my biggest fear of the surgery. I am sure that it will be well managed but I have heard so many stories of extreme pain and stories of no pain that I do not know what to expect. I’m sure there will be pain from the incision, but also from the muscles being separated, the ribs being opened and the incisions and sutures in my heart. There will also be pain from not being able to do the things I normally do like play with my boys and carry things around or do yard work.
The pain will pass and the recovery will be over and I will be a new person with a new outlook on life.
My endurance is not as good as it was two weeks ago and I'm noticing chest pain a little more. Some days I am totally wiped out after just a few hours at work and other days I seem to have so much energy and want to get things done around home. Of course, doing all the spraying for weeds and spraying the siding then moving stuff back into our room wiped me out.
I'm just glad that in 33 days, May 21, things will start to get better after Dr Glower does the AVR.
I have been ready to get the surgery over with and now I have more motivation. I received a notice yesterday that on July 1, 2010, our health insurance is going up and the benefits are going down.
Our insurance went up $100 a month last year to $385 to cover my family and will go to $485 in July to cover the family. (My insurance is paid by my employer.) Just imagine a $100 pay cut per month with no raise or cost of living adjustment. It currently pays 90% after deductible ($1,000) if in network and 70% if out-of-network. In July it goes to 80%/60%.
I don't even want to think about what surgery at Duke is going to cost. I'm just glad that I have disability insurance that will also pay me while I'm out of work and that I have already met my deductible and am working on my out of pocket maximum of $2,000.
I know I shouldn't complain because I have a job that provides insurance but I guess this is our first step toward Obama-care.
I guess that I didn't have to tell any of you that fact. If you know me you know that I am different. It may bother some people but it is my coping mechanism.
On my desk calendar I have written the number of days until surgery. If someone asks me about surgery, I tell them, "I'm ready to get it over with." That is totally the truth.
Am I nervious about the surgery? Yes. Do I dread it? No. Do I look forward to the catheter and being intubated? NO. Is there anything I can do about any of the above? No.
As of today I have 38 days until surgery. I like to look at it as 38 days until I start feeling better and getting back to normal--whatever that is! Or, I get to eat lunch with my wife at Chic-fil-A six more times before surgery. I also look forward to fewer medications.
The journals here also help. I have followed the journeys of different members and it has helped--along with Adam's book--to keep me aware that everyone is different and recovery will be different for me. If someone with a condition similiar to or worse than mine can make a full and complete recovery so can I.
Okay. I admit it--I cannot do simple math. With everything else going on I realized that something was not right. After looking at the calendar today I noticed that I am 6 weeks and 2 days, or 44 days, out from surgery. It's getting here fast and some days not fast enough.
I'm ready to get this over with so I can get to feeling better and get back to living!
After everything going wide open to get the surgery scheduled we are now in the waiting portion. As of this past Friday I am 9 weeks out to surgery. I know it will be here before I realize it but I wish it was May so I could get this over with and have it behind me.
We told our boys this weekend and they were excited about the possibility of having a sleep over at Nana's while I'm in the hospital. I don't think they fully understand what is going on and that is probably a good thing.
I talked to the cath lab today and found out more about that day. I will have the cath done and then the real fun starts. All of the pre-surgical testing will begin after the cath is over and the testing will end sometime late afternoon or early evening. Once that is completed, I will be transfered to a "regular" hospital room to spend the night and get ready for Friday morning. I don't know how much I will sleep Thursday night. I might still have some of the drugs from the cath in my system and after all the testing I will probably be tired and pass right out.
This past week has been crazy. On March 17 we saw Dr Bashore at Duke after having an echo and a ProBNP blood test. After reviewing the echo Dr Bashore said that it was time. I knew what he meant and I was expecting it to be honest. Since January when I saw Dr Varanasi I had been expecting to hear this news but to hear it still was kind of shocking.
Dr Bashore recommended a surgeon, Dr Donald Glower, and we set about finding time to get everything scheduled. Finally on Tuesday of this week, March 23, we had the date settled and we're on the books.
The cath is scheduled for May 20, 2010, and after the cath is finished I will be admitted to Duke University Medical Center and have aortic valve replacement surgery on May 21, 2010. I will be in the hospital for about a week and out of work 6-8 weeks. I think I have talked to someone from Duke every day since the 17th except the 24th and I needed a day off from the hassle of getting set for the surgery.