Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rear View Mirror

The Christmas season came like it always does.  Too soon.  But this year, after my trip to Paris for the climate Change talks, I was taking things in stride.  I got my natural foliage wreath with my little birds and antique silvered balls installed  above the mantle in the living room in the big house, but I decided  not to hang the big flat Christmas tree in the dining room.

We were going to New Orleans the day after Christmas and it seemed like more work than it was worth.  So I did a miniature tree on the dining room table instead.  Originally, we were taking the whole family to our mountain home in Real de Catorce for the Holidays, but some little voice told me not to get that far away from civilization.  While I was in Paris,  and after, I noticed that my stride was slowing down, especially after dinner.

When I got back, I bought a fit bit, one of those cute little space watches that records your pulse and measures your activity.  For the last 30 years, excluding  2015,  I have been an avid runner and exerciser, and it seemed to me that my pulse was running too fast, even just to get up and walk to the bathroom.  So as I did my shopping and other Xmas chores, I was watching and recording my heart rate on a daily basis.  It seemed as if my resting heart rate was going up a little everyday.

On the 22nd of December, I found myself responding to a freedom of information request from a channel 8 reporter.  The whole thing irritated me, but I got it done early on that day.  Now, I was ready for the Holidays, and to eat some good bad food in New Orleans, and enjoy the rest of the trip I had planned with the family.

However, an odd thing happened on my way to the forum.

My blood pressure suddenly shot up way high... Like 200 over 150.

That afternoon, thanks to my guardian angel partner,  I was in the Cardiologist's office getting an EKG.  The next day, I went in early for a nuclear stress test.   I flunked it spectacularly.  Instead of the pictures showing a  nice round donut of red, the bottom half of my donut was light yellow.

We drove from the Doctor's office across the street to the Heart Hospital.  Within 2 hours, I was being wheeled into the Heart Cath room.   This is where the Cardiologist inserts an instrument into your groin and winds his way up into the heart.  They inject die and take pictures.  If necessary, they can also do work to improve the situation.  They can open up areas or put in balloon like devices.  (I figured I would end up with some stints.) They don't knock you out to do it, they just make you real dopey.  But I do remember the cardiologist saying something like, "Let's get out of here, this is going to take full surgery".  I looked up over at him.  "Sorry, he said"

Within an hour, and in the proverbial blink of an eye, I was being scheduled for full open heart surgery.  Only problem was, now it's the day before Christmas Eve, the 23rd of December, which was also my son's birthday. And finding a good surgical crew out of the holiday shift surgeons and remaining kitchen and janitorial staff was looking grim.  So, I got to go home on Christmas Eve and return on the next Monday when the A team would return.

Obviously, Christmas was very different this year.

But that first night, when I first learned of my situation, it was a doozy.  By the time I came to, both mentally and actually, it was around midnight.  For the next 6 hours, using my mifi and my mini, I did an internet super search on bypass surgery.  And, make no mistake, there are a lot of stories out there that tell you not to do it.  There are even new techniques called EECP that in some cases can substitute for it.  Obviously, by six o clock in the morning, I had a head full of ideas on the subject.

But I was mostly trying to just get my hands around it.  And with a 5% bad outcome rate, it sounded a little like trying to scamper across I 35 with a bad knee.

The next morning, the Cardiologist came in.  He listened as I emptied my head of my newly acquired internet degree in heart health.  My physician partner patiently allowed Dr. Tibliet to artfully bat my serves  back over the net.  But when it came down to getting through, it was these words,  "Look Michael, look at it this way,  in 30 days, you will have this in your rear view mirror, and in six months, you'll be booking a flight to Greece without even a thought of it."

It's been thirty days today.

And he was right. (knock on wood)

My quadruple coronary artery bypass graft (cabg)

is now in my rear view mirror.

And I am grateful.

And I send warm embraces to those whose love and care

Made this journey,

a ticker tape parade of a thousand kindnesses.





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