My Recent Surgery, Part One: St. Helena

This account was written for Facebook by my lovely wife, Ceridwen. Enjoy!:

El’s Surgery, Day 1:

I had gotten home a while ago and was awaiting the call from the surgeon before posting this, and I just now got off the phone with him…

El got not only a new mitral valve, a triple bypass, and a “maze”, but also a new aortic valve because it was next to the calcified mitral valve and had received some damage. This additional procedure made the surgery last a couple hours longer than usual, hence my late posting of this…

He has a lot of pulmonary pressure, and a weakened kidney function – likely due to the congestive heart failure and the medicinal complications from before…so we’ll see if the improved heart function helps to strengthen other areas as well…he is being closely observed re: the kidney function, which tends to take a further hit during anesthesia…

The surgeon says there is a 1 in 20 chance of any major complications, and he feels optimistic that he took care of the problem and that El will continue to get stronger during recovery – going from having less than half the heart function to practically full function – AND no Afib and shortness of breath…

He will be sleeping most of the night with a breathing tube, so he says if I don’t hear anything for the rest of the night, that no news is good news…and that he (the surgeon) will call me tomorrow with an update…

When I have El’s room number and he is able to talk, I will pass it along…

Stay tuned, and please continue the energies, prayers, Reiki, etc..

Open-chest maze surgery
The open-chest maze procedure is the most invasive type of surgery for AFib. Your doctor makes an incision in your sternum — the bony area that connects the right and left sides of your ribs —to access your heart.

During surgery, your heart is temporarily stopped, and you’ll be put on a heart-lung machine to keep blood pumping through your body.

Your surgeon makes a series of small cuts on the left and right side of your atria that when healed will form scar tissue. Scar tissue is dead, not living, and isn’t able to conduct electricity to cause an irregular heartbeat. This returns your heart’s beat to its natural rhythm.

Open-chest maze surgery can take up to six hours to complete.

 

El’s Surgery, Day 2: Update added below***

Having heard nothing today, I called in the afternoon and they said he was doing well, sleeping, they took the breathing tube out, left the balloon pump in, he’s still in ICU for another night, then they think they can move him to a room tomorrow…

They told me to call back around 9pm our time, when there will be less chaos and I can actually speak to his nurse, and hopefully, him if he’s awake…

So there will be an evening update on THIS thread below after my attempt to call tonight…that is all I know for now…

Thanks again for all the energies – they seem to be working!
✨💜✨

***Actually spoke to El tonite! He sounded muffled, like he was having trouble enunciating, which is not surprising, having had a breathing tube stuck down his throat for over 24 hours…

Other than waiting for some pain meds to kick in, he sounded good, just sleepy from the meds and all…I told him to call me when he’s in his new room – or have the nurse call me and tell me what room he is in and how he’s doing…

Once I have that info, and can see when he can talk easier on the phone, I’ll pass that info along…

 

El’s Surgery, Day 3:

They decided to keep him another night in ICU, planning to move him to a room on Saturday morning. They left the balloon pump in all day as well…

I spoke to El tonight, and he sounded pretty drugged up, momentarily confused about what day it was and which hospital he was in…but mostly coherent and seeming to be stronger every day…

He hasn’t had access to his own phone yet, but I encouraged him to ask them for it when they move him so we can do some face time (we’ve been practicing here at home on zoom)…

The timing still looks like he’ll be released on Monday, so fingers crossed!

Will report earlier tomorrow about the room shift…

 

 

El’s Surgery, Day 4: Addendum added below***

Just spoke to El and his nurse…they took the balloon pump out, and are moving him out of ICU into a room around midday tomorrow, “downgrading” they call it, so that is good, however, there are a couple of concerns they are watching:

His renal function is touchy, so they are proactively giving him antibiotics. It was already weaker than normal when he went in, and the anesthesia further takes its toll on the kidneys, so they are watching it closely…

They also said his vitals are mostly good (no Afib!), but some of his numbers don’t line up (or “make sense”), so they need to monitor that too…

My personal concern the last couple times I talked with him (and especially tonight) was that he is still confused as to where he is…he keeps insisting that he was in Arcata, and NOT St. Helena, and I had him ask the nurse each time to tell him where he was, and then he acts like it’s a surprise…I even asked him “how” he got moved to Arcata, and he had to think a moment and then said that I drove him there…and I asked if he remembered seeing me since I dropped him off, and he couldn’t remember, so…

Also, he is still confused about what day it is too, which is pretty normal under the circumstances, and he was CONVINCED that he was being discharged tomorrow, instead of just being moved to a different room…so he was desperately trying to call me to arrange being picked up tomorrow! The nurse said it might be a few days, hard to say…

I’m thinking it’s all the pain meds he’s on – hopefully, that is all it is…

Stay tuned…

***Nurse just called to say that they are transferring him to a room tonight, in about an hour from now…no change otherwise…I’ll verify the number later so people can call him tomorrow…

 

 

 

El’s Surgery, Day 5:

Well, it looks like coming home tomorrow (Mon.) isn’t happening…they say he is too weak and the blood pressure is pretty low…they tried to get him to walk around today and he only made it from the window bed to the door before having to stop and sit down again…

He has an external pacemaker that they are leaving in for the time being, and the nurse will keep me posted on progress. He will likely see the surgeon tomorrow, so I have requested to be called after that…

Today was so strange – they lost his new cellphone! He had it with him in his bed in the ICU, and when he got to his new room, it was nowhere to be found. They have searched high and low in both rooms (unless it fell out en route) and they said that if housekeeping finds anything lying around, they take it right to the floor nurse and say which room they found it in…but no sign of the phone so far…and El is quite upset about it, as am I…

CONTACT HIM:

707-963-6502

Room # 541, Bed 2

He would love to hear from everyone while he is in this waiting pattern – it would lift his spirits immensely, I’m sure! 🙂

Stay tuned for another installment in the continuing saga of The Bionic Druid…

 

https://www.ausmed.com/cpd/articles/postoperative-delirium?fbclid=IwAR0_-9KG5x4FmfEcBZFmL48E5Xs6hvxe2fMnS7MarHyxwV1uPIH2EN9bqaI

 

El’s Surgery, Day 6: addendum

The link I just sent is what I suspect El has been experiencing…it explains the confusion and really seems to fit – thanks Maia for sending it to me!

Another day in ICU for observation – he is so weak that he hasn’t even been able to go for walks yet, and feeding himself is difficult, as his arms are weak and the nurse had to feed him his soup, as he couldn’t do it without spilling…

I didn’t get to speak with him again last night, but the nurse says it can be a few days before he is well enough to leave (it’s already been a week since the surgery), so the waiting pattern continues…

I have thought that maybe while he is gone and I am in this house by myself, that it would be an ideal time to mourn my mom’s passing, but all I can think about is El, and until he is safe at home where the real healing (and restful sleep) can begin, he is all I can focus on… 😔

 

El’s Surgery, Day 7:

El sounded so much better when I talked to him yesterday, and they moved him out of ICU again into another room:
He actually got his first good night’s sleep all week, which I am sure helped…

You can now reach him at 707-963-3611, Room 535, bed 1

They removed the pacemaker, but he still has the drainage tubes…

Now they are hinting about possibly being released on Thursday, but I will have to see when I call him today…

So give him a call and raise his spirits – he could use it!

Thanks again for all the energies, love and prayers!

 

El’s Surgery, Day 8: Early update:

Just talked to El, who just talked to the doctor, and now he says “for sure” he can leave on Friday!

So that is the visual I want to encourage everyone to hold:

Picturing El being wheeled out to the car, a smiling reunion, a restful drive home, speedy healing with his beloved wife pampering him…

I will call him again tonight and share any other news…

He’d love to hear from family and friends – he’s well enough to be extremely bored!

More later…

 

 

El’s Surgery, Day 9:

El just called me to say that now they are going to keep him till Saturday… 😔

Apparently his kidney function is not where they want it to be, and he’s been having trouble peeing, so they put another catheter on and gave him some flo-max to shrink his prostate and help him pee…

So yet another day…

But he is getting stronger and walking more in the meantime, so there’s that…

Sigh…

 

El’s Surgery, Day 10:

I spoke to El this morning and he said the doctor gave him the go-ahead to go home tomorrow! For sure! His stats look good, his heart sounds normal, kidney function improved, taking the catheter out today to see if he can pee on his own…

He sounds great, has been stronger and walking more, and he is beyond excited to come home!

So…all your prayers, energies, Reiki, and love has paid off, and we are both so grateful for all of you! 💜😻

 

 

El’s Surgery, Day 11:

This is my last installment of the surgery story, and El will probably be online after a good night’s rest…

Went to pick him up, and at about the halfway point (in the middle of nowhere with no phone reception) of the 5 hr. drive,we got a flat tire! Turns out that our car has everything but a jack…so a sweet woman (who was actually going in the opposite direction) does a u-turn and assists us in removing the dead tire (beyond repair – with an unexplained gash on the sidewall) while her daughter waited in the car, and she had a son in hospital…

So we limped to the next town on our spare tire and got charged a lot of money for a new tire…which caused a delay in our journey…so I finally got some reception so I could call El to say we were running late…

Finally got to the hospital and rescued El took him to get some food he requested, so ended up at home 12.5 hrs. after we left!

There were lots of home care procedures to go over, and he is still wearing a catheter bag, and I picked up multiple prescriptions for him…

He’s moving slowly and carefully, has back pain, but is in good spirits. The home care nurse will begin working with him on Tuesday, setting a schedule for the next couple months or so…

Thanks again everyone! Now the real healing can begin! 😻💜🤩