I woke up a little earlier than normal, sometime in the 5:30 – 5:45 range, after having a post-surgery dream. I remember talking to my cardiologist about how the leads from the ICD connect to my heart. She walked me into a room with a large scale model of a heart and said “we kind of just put them on the spot and they stick there.” Makes perfect sense in a dream logic sort of way. I got out of bed, took a shower (my last one for a few days) and watched some TV. Because… you have to do something to kill the time before major surgery and I can’t eat or drink, so… tv.
I knew our dog had to go for a walk and I needed to go to the bank so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. I went in to Wells Fargo like any other day and enjoyed small chat with the teller. “So, any big plans for today?” she said “Well… I’m going into surgery in three hours.” I replied, clearly breaking the rules of social reciprocity “Wow, you seem calm…” Yeah, I guess I was a little calm considering. But when you’ve been expecting surgery for 3 or 4 weeks and been battling to get it, when it finally comes it’s a huge relief. Not to mention how many people have been praying for me and Bethany and helping us out in this crazy time.
I got home, laid in bed with Bethany, talked a bit and then we headed to the hospital. It started raining on our way there which I found oddly poignant. I think rain is a trope often used in movies to signify change, I would say this fits, so I’ll claim it.
We arrived and after a small miscommunication checked-in. Before being taken away for prep I, surrounded by family, had an opportunity to stop and be prayed for, it was very nice. I was then ushered back to the prep room, where I would stay for the next 3 hours, attached to heart monitors and IV’s. Once I was all setup and ready to wait again they brought in family three at a time. While we were hanging out and talking, doctors and nurses would come in and out doing doctor things, asking questions, silencing the heart monitor that went off every time my pulse went below 40… At least we know for sure I need a pacemaker. They eventually unplugged it. Their reason? It was essentially the medical equivalent to “we get it, your heart is slow… ” Fine by me, the beeping was annoying.
“Don’t worry when I tell you what I’m going to tell you.”
This is never comforting to hear… Following this was a bunch of legal jargon that basically says “You are giving us the right to do this and won’t sue us if… blah blah blah death…” Okay thanks, I’ll go on not worrying now. I know this needs to be done, but it saddens me that we live in such a lawsuit heavy society that this needs to happen. Family filtered in and out, as usual Bethany was my constant, we talked about all sorts of stuff some important, some not important all of it great. Yet again she was my rock. I know she was scared, I was too, but I had peace. I guess that prayer was paying off.
I finally got ushered into the operating room by my nurse who, it turns out, lives next door to one of my brother’s good friends. Small world. She asked me what kind of music I liked and proceeded to turn on a folk inspired Pandora station. I should have said rap… ha. After that most of the procedure is foggy at best. Though I do recall that I am on of the first people in Northern, California to have this specific ICD unit. Basically I’m a celebrity. My entire head was covered with a blue surgical tarp and aside from feeling some pressure on my chest and spouting out random non-sequiturs that probably confused the doctor’s, it was pretty uneventful. I did not do anesthesia but opted for conscious sedation. Sadly this means no funny post-surgery videos.
I was rolled up to, what I later found out was, the sixth floor and set to wait for family to arrive. Bethany arrived first. It was really nice being able to steal a few moments with her before everyone else arrived. It’s been an emotional time for both of us so being apart, even for a short time under such extreme circumstances was hard. The rest of the evening was nice talking with family and celebrating that this was finally able to be done. Once everyone had gone home, except Bethany, and my dried out chicken, carrots and broccoli were done we just sat and talked. I even got to feel little Adah, our future soccer player, kick again.
Eventually the events of the day wore on me and it was time to “sleep.” Bethany and I said our goodbye’s and she went home. She didn’t want to and I didn’t want her to, but being almost 6 months pregnant and staying in a hospital cot didn’t sound like a good option to me. Turns out by the end of the night we both wish she would have stayed. Sorry babe, I didn’t know.
The next day I got a nutritious “Cardiovascular Diet” breakfast complete with a pamphlet showing a 70 year old smiling and did a couple tests: Blood Pressure, X-Ray.
Everything looked good and I was out the door at 9:45 a.m. That is, after they found my slippers that they had left in the pre-op room the day before. I walked out with my lovely wife and met my parents out front and got breakfast nearby. Time to go get some antibiotics and sleep.