8/04/2007

Thankful and happy to be home

Is it really only two days. Seems like a year.

Jim and I drove the fifteen minutes to the hospital at 5:30 am yesterday morning, laughing, talking about nothing. Jim and I have been married going on 52 years. And we have been through crises before so by this time we communicate on a pretty deep level by "knowing" rather than saying.

Jim had a six am arrival time and he must have been first on the list for everything because there were few cars in the lot and only four people in the lobby - so eveything went quickly. They sent us to the third floor to the Interventional Cardiology Center. I tapped Jim on the arm, "get a load of that - interventional cardiology - that's what they are calling it these days - do they call your doctor an interventionalist?

Smiling nursing staff took charge of Jim. "We will take it from here. You can see him before the procedure. We will call you when he's ready."

I took one of the nurses aside saying, "Would you please tell me your plan? What happens/ from now on?" And she did.
This is the drill for a cardiac cath. They prep the patient by starting an IV - they will administer medicines and fluids through the IV. The doctor comes in and meets the family. Then they take the patient into the "cath lab" - he was wired to all the monitoring sysyems. They insert a line an artery in the groin and run the line into the heart. That's how they insert the dye into the heart for imaging the arteries to check their condition. If they find a problem, they will do whatever they can at this point or decide that more is needed and continue with surgery at that point or stop - and schedule a later surgery.

I swallowed rather hard. Listen this is not new to me. Jim has a stent in a left artery that was inserted 10 years ago. And all has been well with it. But this is now.

Our daughter Karen arrived about 7 am and our son Jim about 7:30 pm. We were all there to wish Jim well and to meet his doctor. That was a very good moment. The doctor was seasoned, quietly in-charge and condident and very kind. Yes, this was the interventionalist but I knew he was also a doctor. A blessing. What more could you ask for.

Then starts the hard part for the family. Waiting! When they were beyond 45 minutes I felt that there were "findings." Sure enough the nurse came out half hour later and, "the doctor woudl like to talk with you." He was standing outside the Cath Lab. He was holding his gloved hands covered by a sterile cloth. Through the partially open door I saw Jim's draped form on the table in the middle of the room. " we have isolated a problem - a blockage - and we need to clean the artery and insert a stent. There is a large amount of calcification so it will take a little time." I felt questions rising in my throat about what he was going to do -" but realized this was the time for trust. Instead I asked, "how is he?" " doing well!" he asssured me. He turned and went back inside to do whatever he had decided to do - and we walked back to the waiitng room.

An hour later they let us know that Jim was in recovery and I went in to see him. He was tired, still groggy, and smiling.

The doctor came in later and said, "now it s time for show and tell." He showed us the computer pictures of Jim's heart. The old stent is in good shape and the new stent nicely in place in a major artery that had been 80% occulded.

80% occluded, a heart attack waiting to happen, and his only symptoms were exteme exhaustion.
Jim spent last night in the hospital under the watchful eye of caring and capable staff. And about noon today I drove him home.

There will be a few days of rest and recovery and then life as usual.

We are grateful for this blessing, for the prayers, and for God's gift of modern medicine.