Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Heart Drama

At first it, was just a little "drama"....but by the end of the week, you could change the D to a T and slide a U in after the A! T-R-A-U-M-A!

So if you don't know what I'm talking about (and I can't imagine there is anyone out there who doesn't, but just in case....) I'll fill you in. June 1st, Tommy had a heart attack. That's old news, I know. His healing process from that included 3 months of "cardiac rehab", which consists of exercising while nurses monitor blood pressure and heart rate. Luckily, the rehab unit is across the hall from the cardiologist, and both are housed in the hospital.

So last week, I was coughing my guts up from whatever I caught while we were at our survival campout. I didn't think I was going to survive, so I had Manti take him to his appointments while I stayed home desperately trying to stop coughing. All went fine on Monday. Tuesday is an "off day". Wednesday he went in for rehab and did his exercises,...but his blood pressure didn't respond so nicely. It stayed too low. He got dizzy and started passing out. So the nurses put him on a stretcher and sent him across the hall to the cardiologist. From there, he got admitted to the hospital for observation. So Tommy calls me to tell me this, not thinking he was staying overnight. By evening though, it had turned into an overnight stay since his pressure just wasn't normalizing so nicely. They scheduled him to get a stress test (the kind done with a chemical instead of a treadmill) for the next day, so I stayed home and prayed for cough relief so I could go be with him on THursday.

Thursday came and I took off for the hospital. Manti traded cars with me (because we've heard talk amongst city police that Dodge vehicles have been targetted lately by car thieves and my durango is quite red. There was even a dodge stolen out of the hospital parking deck where we always park!) and he headed home to help with the younger kids. I waited for 2 hours before Tommy came back to the room from his stress test. Then he had to wait....and wait...and wait,... At 8pm, his cardiologist came in and apologized saying there were so many tests run that day that they hadn't gotten them all processed yet. So since it was so late, he had to stay another night for him to read the results, but everything was looking good and he could probably go home in the morning. He thought it might have been a lot of stress: the rehab exercises, his sick wife and 2 youngest sons, medicine adjustments,... that kind of thing. At 10pm, the doctor came back in and tells us the results are in,...and something is wrong. We don't know what for sure until he has a heart catheter done. *SIGH* That means we're there overnight again, and the next day wouldn't be as pleasant.

So we try to sleep that night and plan for a heart cath about noon on Friday. Noon came and went....he got prepped and medically prepared....but the doctor had other patients he couldn't leave and the procedure got put off till 4pm. All shaved and no needles ready to go! Just at 4:00 though, in come the cath lab techs and they wheel his entire bed down the hall instead of putting him in a wheelchair! I was surprised by that. They headed for the staff elevator (also surprised me) and let me follow. We "landed" right near the room where they procedure was going to go on and they said "he's prepped already, let's start now" and I started hearing tools collected and people gathering to work on him before I got out of sight of the door! I was the only one in the waiting room...just me and Maury Povich (by the way, that guy was NOT the father).... the office area had already closed, so not even a secretary to look at. I sat down....stood up, ... sat down.... and got sick at my stomach with worry. Something just started eating at me and scaring me. I started pacing the floor and thought "I'll just call someone". So i called Sheryl (i call her my sister in law, even though its more common law) and told her what was happening.

Shortly after, one of the technicians came out to tell me they found a blockage and had to do a stint, so it would be a few more minutes. He couldn't (or wouldn't, whichever applies) answer my questions, but did tell me he had been in on the LAST stint back in June and didn't recall seeing a blockage like this one at that time. Then he went back to the room .... leaving me alone to bawl like a baby. I called Linda, my boss. I wa supposed to work that weekend and felt so guilty about leaving her hanging like I was having to do to be with him. She was a friend at the time I needed one and she said all the right things,....just like a mother does. What a blessing she is in my life!! She's a real jewel!

I hung up from that, and called my mother. I wasn't done crying yet and Linda stirred up my need for my mommmy. While talking to my mom, the doctor came out. He wasn't wearing scrubs or a lab coat or anything! He was in a SHARP suit! It had to be a costly one too, and totally shocked me to see him that way. I almost forgot my questions! he told me all was fine and about the blockage. He described it as a straw that tapes off on one end. He said where the tapering happens, there was a blockage that WAS there previously. But during the last 2 months, Tommy has been improving and the build up on his arteries was diminishing. That allows the vessels and arteries to open up a bit. A blockage though is a bit thicker and takes more time to demonstrate change. So the opening happened on the other side of it, and by opening up, it seemed to have put a little pressure downward ONTO the blockage. Originally I think he said it was 45% blocked, and now it had become 95-99% blocked. That's drastic I think!

So they put another stint in and the blood flowed nicely through. He didn't have a heart attack because they found this and took care of it before anything could happen. That means no additional damage to the heart muscle.....which means better opportunities for healing and feeling better. AWESOME!

Back to his room after that with word that he goes home Saturday morning. We're glad to hear that! It's already night, and this is the femoral artery we're talking about running a hose through, so it takes a while for blood to clot and be safe enough for him to move around. Saturday morning comes and the nurse comes in to do orthostatic blood pressure monitoring. This means they took his pressure laying down, sitting up and standing. When he got to the standing position, his pressure dropped 20 points. It had been doing that all along, so he and I didn't think anything of it. The doctor noticed though. He said "hook him back up to iv fluids, he's staying till this afternoon." That same time, Mesa called me to tell me how sick she was and that she'd been throwing up all over the place. She needed help, so I had Manti come back to the hospital, trade cars again and stay with his daddy so I could go home and take care of my youngest 3.

That night, they call me and tell me he'll be staying till Sunday. Welll Sunday came and he actually DID get to come home. But with medicine changes and a pair of support stockings.

WHEW! What a week, huh? And I coughed all the way through it :D

1 comment:

  1. My friend, I am so sorry you have had to go through all of this, sorry for all of you. You and the family will be in my prayers.