Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I Scored A BOGO on a By-Pass!!!

14 February 2012

I was admitted to Louisville’s Jewish Hospital on the afternoon of October 22d, 2003 and the surgery was scheduled for the following morning. I was numb and sure that I would not survive. Just to keep you from hanging in suspense, I did survive.

The hospital got my wife and her parents a nice room in one of their hospitality hotel suites and I of course stayed in the hospital room. I wasn’t given too much time to worry about my fears. I had to get more x-rays, more blood tests and I think another ultrasound was done. Throughout the day and evening I was visited by, I think, everyone on the operating team. They would come in and explain to me what their part in the procedure was and ask me any relevant questions they would have about me. Each and every one of them gave me their assurances that I was in good hands and that they do countless procedures like this daily. When the anesthesiologist came in, I asked her to ensure my hands be tied down because I didn’t want to try taking out the breathing tube. Talking with them eased my fear somewhat and I found myself growing more curious about what was to happen to me, a sign that I was relaxing. At about 0300L I was wakened by an attendant who had to shave me. And I’m not talking my face and beard. He shaved my chest, arms, legs and other areas we won’t delve into. I was then instructed on showering at about 6 in the morning to begin prep for surgery. I had to shower with the Phisohex solution and once back in bed, I was ready for surgery.

They wheeled me into the prep room and began the pre-op work-up and sedation. The nurse there was telling me they were going to insert a breathing tube in my throat and that it would be there when I woke from the surgery. I asked her to not do that until I was out and she assured me that’s how they do it and not to worry. I repeated my request to ensure that my hands were to be tied down when I was in the recovery room. She said they had that request in the orders and again not to worry. I was beginning to feel really good when they brought my wife in. We told each other how much we loved each other and that I would miss her so very much. She was assuring me all was well and I was trying to be brave for her. I can’t put into words without getting emotional, how hard it was to say goodbye. I wanted her with me. Oddly enough, she tells me today how she could barely understand me because of the drugs! The nurse said it was time to administer the drug to “put me to sleep” and I’m not sure if she said “count from 10 backwards” or not but I know I didn’t get past 9! I remember being wheeled into the surgery ward. I remember some kind of brief sharp pain somewhere and waking up. The nurse and some attendants were staring at me.  I don’t know if it was an out of body experience but I remember the surgery ward and seeing the doctor standing there. I remember getting up and moving from the gurney to the surgery table and saying something witty. I remember everyone laughing a little. I remember sunlight then I remember nothing but darkness. Like a light switch being turned off.

Waking up was something else. It was very much like being in a fog and sunlight slowly breaking into my consciousness. I heard the only thing in the world I wanted to hear. The voice of my wife calling my name and telling me everything was ok. As I woke further I found myself struggling. The tube down my throat was gagging and choking me and I struggled to free my hands. I was extremely thirsty and dry.  I could not see and could not focus. I heard the nurses telling me to calm down and breathe through my nose. That seemed to help and I tried to hand signal the nurses to bring me a notepad. I wanted them to give me a drink of something. No luck there and no telling what I was actually doing. My vision slowly clearing, I saw my wife and her being there calmed me down. I was then able to relax though occasionally my gag reflex (which has always been sensitive) would kick in. My wife was in the post-op recovery room every time I woke up. Once I was awake for a while and the staff was sure I was breathing on my own, they took the tube out. It wasn’t that hard. They make you relax a bit and count down and breathe outward. As you breathe outward, they remove the tube. It is bothersome but not so bad. You cough a lot and you may gag but it does not last long. I remember wanting to rise up and of course, you really can’t do that after a by-pass.

I don’t remember a lot in the days following the surgery. But this is what I know. I went in for a 3 vessel bypass that should have taken maybe 2 hours. Once in there, the surgeon discovered I needed a 6 vessel by-pass that took nearly 7 hours of surgery. That of course required additional drugs and the surgery team had a hard time bringing me back. When I woke up and was coherent, I found I had tubes coming out of at least three places in my abdominal cavity and a catheter had been put in to allow for urine flow. My first thoughts on seeing that were dread for when they took it out and hope that I didn’t find anything particularly arousing while it was in there. And for the record, catheters, like swimming for us guys, causes shrinkage.

I couldn’t really feel any pain unless I moved and even then it was negligible, most likely due to the pain meds and effects of the anesthesia. I was groggy and in and out of consciousness. My wife would rub my chest area lightly and the sensation was both calming and almost tickling. It was like waves going throughout my chest. I think I hallucinated several times. I swear I spoke with my sister-in-law on the phone the day of the surgery but I am not so sure. My step daughter visited me with her then fiancé and I thought his sister was there. I remembered having a nice conversation with his sister but was told later that she never came to the hospital. I remember my best friend from my teen age years visited me with his wife but he would look like he did when we were kids.

All in all the first days were very strange but one thing I do know. My wife, Terry, was there the whole time. She tended to my every need. Helped me with everything and I was as helpless as a new born baby. She was strong, never flinched or batted an eye and had a brave face throughout the whole affair. She was then and still is now, always there for me. She took care of me then and still does to this day and I can safely say with every assurance that without her, I would be a dead man to this day. Nobody in my life has ever taken as good care of me as she has.

So today is Valentine’s Day. I am going to spend this day showing the one person in my life that has always been there for me, how very, very, much I love her. I am going to celebrate today not only our love but every breath that I get to take and give thanks that it is with her. I am blessed to have her in my life and I want to do everything I can to make my wife happy today and for the rest of our lives.

Tomorrow I talk more about recovery.

Have a Blessed Day!!!!

Today’s “Did Ya Know?” In addition to it being Valentine’s Day, it’s also “National Single Awareness Day”!! It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek smack to the head to married peoples and those in relationships but it is based, of course, in good intention. It’s a day to celebrate being single if that is what you are but just remember there’s always someone out there that has love in their heart for you! I can guarantee it!

Today’s Related Links:

National Singles Awareness Day:


WebMD Articles on Bypass Surgery procedures:


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