Thursday, January 10, 2008

Post-op Update

So, December 24th has come and gone, and so has 2007! I have had a barrage of questions from people wanting to know how the surgery/procedure went, and I have given some feedback over the last two weeks, but not a whole lot.

We arrived at the Hospital at 5:15am, and checked in. The nurse took my blood pressure, ran an EKG, weighed and measured me, and then had me remove all clothing, and had me put on the standard issue hospital gown - you know the one that is open at the back...awfully uncomfortable. I went through to the waiting room, and said my farewells to the girls and Nancy, and then was escorted through to the pre-op facility. The nurse started the prep work, by shaving me from my neck down to my ankles, front and back...I know exactly what a chicken feels like without its' feathers. Once that was completed I was drenched in an antiseptic solution and not allowed to get out of bed. The Anaethetist came and chatted with me, explaining to me that instead of using a cuff to monitor my blood pressure during the procedure he was going to plug a fat needle into my wrist directly into my pulse pathway for 100% accuracy. He wasn't kidding about the fat needle, it was huge...and hurt like crazy. Then he connected another needle into my forearm and told me this is where they were going to administer the anaesthetic. The nurse came and introduced herself to me, and then the Surgeon came and looked over my vitals, and told me that "we are going to take care of these little boogers" referencing to the arrythmia in my heart. I remember being wheeled into the OR, listening to a few songs that were playing on the CD player, seeing three nurses, the Anaesthetist, the Surgeon and his assistant...and the next sensation was "pain" and nausea. Waking up in the ICU, I turned my head to look at the monitor immediately and saw a regular rythm on the screen, I felt good about seeing that, but then my body wasn't doing to good with the after effects of the medication and I became violently sick, throwing up, and trying not to move too much was very difficult. The nurse was very good to me, I told her I was incredibly thirsty, and she said "no food food for you friend, I can let you have a few mouthfuls of crushed ice, and if you stop being sick, and behave I will let you have a full cup on your own..." My mouth was dryer than the Kalahari desert, and the crushed ice was the most soothing snack ever. Being in hospital and trying to sleep through the night is practically impossible. I am one of those people that in such an environment find it difficult to sleep, because of the noise, the lights, people coming and going etc. So I there until 10pm and finally asked the nurse for something to help me sleep - did it work? No. At one point I felt desperate for the bathroom. I had this sensation that I was constantly "going"...and asked the nurse to help me get up to "go" and she actually chuckled and explained the sensation I was having was because I had a catheter...! I do not wish that sensation on anyone, it is one of the most uncomfortable feelings you can imagine.

Christmas Day arrived...looking out of my window I could see people walking on the Torry Pines Golf course (world class tournaments are played here, including the Buick International with Tiger Woods & co.) Breakfast was served, and it wasn't half as bad as what hospital food usually is. I had a cup of coffee (decaf.) scrambled egg, french toast with syrup and peach slices, cereal and a biscuit. I wolfed it down in a matter of seconds, I was so hungry.

The Doctor came by, took a look at my chart, asked how I was feeling, and commented that I was free to go home at lunchtime. The nurse got me "unplugged" from the monitors and helped me out of bed, and walked a few laps around the ICU to get my balance back, and then propped me up in the chair in my room while I waited for Nancy and the girls to arrive.

The drive home was good. I was relieved to be going home, and to spend Christmas Day with my family, all be it in a state of weakness and drowsiness, being home again was wonderful. The rest of the week I spent in bed, could hardly rouse myself to do anything at all. On Thursday I called the doctor back and told him that I didn't feel good, so he had me come in immediately. They did an EKG, and an Echocardiogram, and the arrythmia was acting up again! He mentioned that this is normal, and can take anything from 6 weeks to 3 months to correct itself back into a normal rythm. That speech didn't encourage me at all. Went back home, and stayed in bed for the next three days. On Saturday, Nancy took me out for a drive to the office, and in the car, everything started going blurry, and foggy, almost like I was in the middle of a snow storm, followed by a violent headache. I told Nancy I wasn't feeling too good so I went and took a nap, waking up to the most incredible pain in my chest, tummy and lower back...I hobbled downstairs, and told Nancy something was wrong, I literally fell on the floor in pain, and had no idea what was going on. She didn't hesitate and called Bob from down the street immediately and within 3 minutes he was there, dressing me and took me off to the ER. Once in the ER the pain subsided, they ran my blood work, did a chest xray, and did a liver panel. They hooked me up to a drip, and fed me huge tablets to raise my potassium level - it had dropped to a dangerous level resulting in the near blackout, and intense pain. Four hours later we were back home...

I had a follow up visit with the Doctor last week, and a new EKG was performed, and the arrythmia was still rearing its ugly head. He has now introduced a new medication to counter the irregular beats, and will want to see me again on January 17th.

The question is: was this procedure successful? At this juncture I would hesitate to affirm the success. I do feel probably 80% better and each day there is an improvement. Only time will tell, and the Surgeon has indicated that usually two procedures are required to fully eradicate this type of arrythmia. Does that concern me? No. These people are highly skilled, and blessed with such incredible insight and knowledge that at this level, "doctor" really does know best, and so what ever the results show, coupled with his insight and how I feel will determine the level of success already achieved or yet to be achieved.

If there is anything I have learned in this short space of time, it is the fact that our bodies our fragile, the Lord has gifted people with intelligence to fix us, and it happens to the best of us. Some of the dynamics in my life have begun changing. What was important a year ago no longer carries the same weight today. The very things that were a stress to me previously are no longer wrapping my mind up. I find myself asking a different set of personal questions; 2007 is gone, but not forgotten, teach me Lord the lessons of 2007 so that 2008 and beyond might be different.

Teach me Lord to go THROUGH situations and not UNDER, AROUND or OVER...but THROUGH! This way I can "fail" forward in You and bear witness to Your provision in so doing. When I "fail" in circumstances excluding You, then I backslide, but when I "fail" forward in Christ, I do so in the glory of witnessing for the King.

This is a win - win situation...and we can all be in on it!

Edit: Special thanks to some precious people who called to check up on Nancy the girls and I...Debbie in New Zealand, Veronica in UK, The Naude's in Ireland, Karin in Adelaide, Bill in Holland, Linda in Zimbabwe...and of course a host of folks here in the USA! Countless emails have been coming in too. To be loved is one thing, to feel loved is another...bless you all!

No comments: