Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The longest day of my life

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My dad made it through his triple bypass surgery but, damn….it was a bugger.

He went into surgery at 7:30. The Doctor told us that he anticipated it to be a 4-5 hour surgery. It was closer to 7 hours.
My family and I sat in the waiting room for what seemed like an eternity. We watched as different doctors would come in and sit next to anxious men and women, telling them that their loved ones surgery went well and they were in recovery. Finally, my dad’s doctor approached the door and had us come out into the hall. That is never a good sign.
He told us that they ran into some complications that needed to be taken care of before they performed the bypass. Dad’s pericardial sac (it’s like a double membrane of tissue that surrounds your heart) was inflamed, thick, and tough. They had to dissect a chunk of it so that his heart could distend properly. They sent the dissected portion to the lab to find out what is going on. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
See that? That is the pericardial sac. That is a normal one. My dad’s was like half an inch thick (roughly speaking).
They also found over a liter of fluid in the upper lobe of his left lung. That had to be drained. Again, they are not really sure why that was there. 10 years ago, he had a tremendous amount of fluid in his lungs but the doctor did not seem to think this incident was related.
They could not remove his heart very easily because it had attached itself to the thoracic wall (I think it was the thoracic wall). Also, one of the veins they needed to work on was not exactly following the typical anatomical location. It was a squirrelly vein, dipping and diving all over the place.
The doc told us that the following 6-8 hours were critical. If my dad were to have a stroke or heart attack, it would most likely be during this time. Yeah, those hours sucked. Plus, dad was intubated (post surgery) for like 7 hours. That was way longer than we had expected (we were told he would need the breathing machine for a few hours). We were told to wait in the ICU waiting room and somebody would get us shortly so that we could see dad. I sat down and cried. The tears I tried to choke back all day (hell, all week) would not listen any more. I had no control…they just came. My head hurt and so did my heart. It was good though, I needed to cry. I never wanted to because I knew that meant I was scared. If I were scared, then that meant that my dad was in danger.
We waited for over an hour for somebody to get us so that we could see my dad. Finally, my mom decided to take matters into her own hands and she and I breached the ICU. I looked in every room as I searched for my father. When I found him, he had a million tubes running into his body. There were monitors everywhere, and a nurse was working diligently by his side. I looked at my mom, who had not seen him yet, and told her he was in the room we were standing in front of. She asked how he looked, and I did not know what to say. The nurse spotted us and apologized that he had not yet gotten us from the waiting room. He was busy, and we understood that. My dad was in and out of awareness as they continued to push morphine through his system. He had a chest tube, a breathing tube, several drainage tubes, and a bunch of IVs (four of which were in his neck). It was very hard to see him in that state, and I never want to go through it again.
He really wanted to communicate, but obviously could not speak. Instead, he traced letters on my wrist and I would figure out the word he was trying to get across. Mostly, he wanted to know what time it was, how long the surgery was, if he did have the triple bypass (they were not sure if they were going to do 2, 3, or 4), and how my mom was doing. He also wanted me to clean the protective lubrication out of his eyes (they coat that crap on during surgery) and to tell the nurse to suction his breathing tube.
The next day, which is today, he is doing better. They had him walk a little and they took the chest tube out. They were able to stop giving him blood and he is drinking clear fluids. The doctor says he may be back home by Thursday. He will have to be out of work for at least a month, however. I came home and fell asleep immediately. Emotional exhaustion takes a toll. I feel like I just completed a semester of grad school in two days. I think I aged 5 years.
Things are looking up, though. Dad is tough and I really think he is going to recover quicker than expected.
Thank you for your prayers.


Blogger Tracy Fennell said...

I'm glad things seem to be looking up. Prayers will continue as always!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Well, praise God. :)
Yeah, your dad IS tough. And he (and all of you) are in my prayers. :)

8:32 AM  

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