As most of you know, Don had open heart surgery this morning, finally, after 3 weeks of delay. We were up at 4 am to get to the hospital by 5:30, and we arrived early. But there were already several staff members there to efficiently check him in and start the pre-op procedures. At 7:30 the anesthesiologist arrived and I was invited to kiss Don and move out of the way.
After I had a bite of breakfast in the cafeteria and found a comfortable spot in the ICU waiting lounge, Mark the OR nurse came about 8:30 to let me know that Don had drifted to sleep under anesthesia and the surgeon had already started the surgery.
Dennis & Carol Hill came to keep me company while waiting. We had no trouble passing the time with conversation and our Kindle Fires.
About 10:00 Mark came to say things were going well and the arteries to use for the bypasses had been harvested.
Shortly after 11:00 Mark came to say surgery was almost complete and the doc would be out to talk with me in 30-45 minutes. We asked if we should go grab some lunch first and he said yes. As soon as we had eaten a few bites, Mark came into the cafeteria to find me because the doc was ready to talk after only 20 minutes! We should have waited to have lunch!
Dr. Von Haag said the surgery went very well, and explained that only two arteries were bypassed. The third artery, smallest of the three, had calcified to the point that it was brittle and would not hold the grafts of arteries for a bypass. He said there was an immediate improvement in the heart’s function when the two bypasses were in place, and we’ll just watch to see if a further procedure is necessary for the 3rd artery.
Dennis left to run some errands and Carol stayed with me. Mark said that I would be called into the ICU in about an hour or so. Almost 2 hours later when I hadn’t been called, I asked about it and was admitted to see him. He was still groggy from anesthesia, but seemed to know I was there.
By the time I left the hospital this evening Don had made progress. He passed the respiratory therapist's tests for breathing and was extubated (breathing tube removed), a big relief! His pain level was pretty high, so he was switched from Morphine to Dilaudid and finally was able to rest easier after just a half dose. His C-PAP was fitted on his face, with oxygen added to keep his O2 level high. And he got over the chills when his nurse Chris piled on 3 blankets fresh from the warmer. He hasn't gotten up to walk yet, but I'm sure that will happen tomorrow morning. He seems to be in good hands and I trust the St. Mary's professionals to take care of him. In fact, his nurse Chris just passed his Nurse Practitioner test and may soon move on to bigger challenges (although I can’t imagine a bigger challenge than keeping surgical patients alive and helping them recover)!
I called for an update just a few minutes ago, and his night nurse Yvonne said he’s in a little pain, but she’s looking into whether he can have the second half of the Dilaudid dose, or if he had it already (she just came on duty). He’s also now feeling too warm – go figure! He waved ‘hello’ to her for me and I sent my love.
It's been a long day, but I feel so joyful that this major speed bump in our lives is on its way to an end! Thanks to all our friends for your support in the form of email messages and those on Facebook, phone calls, thoughts and prayers, and being there for us. And special thanks to our good friends Dennis & Carol for leaving their lovely stay in cool Northern Arizona to come to hot Tucson for us!
Final note: I’m so glad Live Writer and Blogger are working together again. LW is such a superior way to write a blog and post pictures. Sorry for no pictures in this blog, but will be adding some next time.