On February 12, 2014 I went through my 3rd open heart surgery. I really haven't said much about my surgery to a lot of people so instead of telling my story over and over to everyone who asks why not do what I do best? That would be writing about it. The beginning of this process start way back in May 2013. I went to get an ultrasound and meet with my cardiologist on this given day. What most people don't know is that I had already saw my cardiologist in January for my yearly check up but did not want to get the ultrasound due to the fear of the results. I was in denial and knew what was coming so I delayed the inevitable. Fast foward again back to May. I had the ultrasound and my fears came to life again. My conduit was narrowed which meant there was blockage from my right ventricle to the pulmonary artery. Not just a little blockage, but 70 percent. I found all this out the day before my cousins wedding.
For the next nine months I slowed down and I broke down. The energy was no longer there. The passion and fire I once had for doing things was no longer there. The more time went on the fear of surgery was still there but I approached it differently then I did when I was 17. I told myself that this surgery would change me, make me feel like Hollywood again and put me in a better place then I have ever been. I did not shed as many tears this time as I did when I was 17 because I knew that God's presence would be there and I knew what to expect. I am a lot more mature then I was back then and knew that a positive attitude would be the best approach to get me through this.
The morning of surgery there was no calming my nerves. I was nervous, scared, and terrified that this was about to happen. The surgery itself last almost 7 hours, which was three hours longer then they originally thought. The scar tissue grew to my sternum from the last surgery I had in 2002 which made it very difficult to go through. It took four hours just to cut me open and get to my heart. The old conduit wasn't even recognizable. I was told that it came out in pieces, not whole like it should have. This means I got lucky and this also means I probably put off surgery longer then I probably should have.
I was in the hospital for six days and was under the care of some of the best doctors and nurses that I could ask for. The morning after the comeback story started. The minute the chest tubes were removed from my body was the minute I started to fight again and became to determine to take back my life. I went from a surgery recovery room to a normal room and skipped right through ICU. Each day I was up there I went 4-5 walks a day and pushed myself harder then I ever have before. When I came home six days later I knew I was a step closer to freedom again.
Since February 12th I have lost 25 pounds, have developed a great attitude again and continue to build my strength and endurance up to the way it was before my situation got bad. I have my follow up appointment on March 26th to determine when I am off restrictions. The day I am off all restrictions will be a day to rejoice and celebrate. It will be a day that completes this long journey that nearly took a year of my life away from me. I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ everyday for allowing me to live a great life. I am thankful and blessed to have such a wonderful family, and a lot of wonderful friends. I never realized how many people truly cared until I saw all the posts and comments on my Facebook the morning of my surgery and the entire time I was in the hospital. I am so grateful for all of it.
The one thing I can end with is that I am Hollywood Joe and I am here to stay. When I was drugged up before surgery I told my nurse, "I am Hollywood Joe and you better not forget it." I may not remember it, but there is a reason I said it. That reason is because I had an obstacle put infront of me and I conquered it. By the grace and power of God I conquered it. This was the hardest surgery that I've ever been through but in the end it is well worth it.
I am blessed, I am free, I am whole, I am strong, I am happy and I am very lucky.
On February 12, 2014 I will be undergoing open heart surgery for the third time. It will be to repair the right ventricle-to-pulmonary artery (RV-PA) conduit obstruction which has started to show itself over the last year.
I have had a good 11 year run since my last surgery on September 5, 2002. I have accomplished a lot, and experienced some wonderful things.
With surgery approaching rapidly I pray that this is the last one and that I can live the rest of my life stress and worry free about having surgery. Stay tuned for my recovery. It's going to be one hell of a ride!