July 15

Dad’s Heart – Heading Home Again



Note: Latest updates can be found at the bottom of this post, just above people’s comments.

Wednesday, 7/15/09 at 12:53 PM EST
We’re currently at the hospital (the second one of the day for my Mom and Dad) waiting for Dad to go into surgery.

Monday while he was working, he started to experience pain on both sides of his neck.  For once in his life, he could not blame one of us kids as being the pain in the neck in question. 🙂

Unfortunately, though, the pain would lead us to discover something serious was at work, but we’re thanking God that it was discovered before it got worse.

Tuesday morning he went to the doctor to have the pain checked out.  He was immediately set up with an outpatient procedure for this morning to check for any arterial blockage.  He was sent home yesterday with nitroglycerine and had to take some last night after experiencing the pain again.

This morning Mom and Dad got to the hospital for the procedure and they discovered blockage right away.  His right artery was 90% blocked.  The EMT we talked to later said that particular artery is called “The Widow Maker.”  Not necessarily something we wanted to hear.

Several other arteries (see the diagram to the right) had 20-30% blockage, as well.

As soon as we learned about the blockage, Jennifer and I called into work and asked them to broadcast a replay.  Assuming everything continues to go well and Dad heads home tomorrow, we’ll do a show tomorrow.

After they transferred him from one hospital to another one, my sister Nancy and I headed down to be with Mom and Dad and now Dad is in this hospital’s cardiac unit and is currently being prepped for surgery.  The ambulance arrived about 40 minutes behind schedule, so I would guess he’ll be in surgery sometime around 1:30 PM EST.

Dad is in very good spirits (as evidenced in the picture below), but we’re all obviously quite a bit shaken by this.

Mom is doing well, just ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and is in good spirits, as well.

Rather than updating in multiple places, I’m going to stick to posting here on this one post.  I’ll post update times in the header as more information is known, so please keep checking back to this one post for additional information.

Thanks to everyone for all your prayers. They’re definitely being felt.

Update 2:35 PM EST on 7/15/09

Dad’s doctor just arrived and hopefully he’ll be heading back to surgery.

In the meantime, we’ve had multiple visits from nurses prepping Dad for surgery.

While we were waiting, Dad recorded the following message for everyone:

Shortly after he recorded that video, a priest arrived and heard Dad’s confession and then gave him the Anointing of the Sick. Dad said he thinks that was the first time he’s received that particular Sacrament, so now he’s had 6 of the 7 Sacraments.

Below is a video of Dad receiving the Annointing. I’ll update more here later as we get them:

Update 3:05 PM EST on 7/15/09
Dad was just taken back to surgery. The doctor said it’ll be about an hour.

Update 4:31 PM EST on 7/15/09
Dad is out of surgery and doctor just came back to give us the update. Everything went well and he now has a stent in place in his right artery where there was 90% blockage. Nothing was done to the other arteries that had 20-30% blockage.

Dad will now be placed on medication to lower his cholesterol, as well as for his heart in general. The heart medicine he’ll be on for at least a year.

We’ll be going up to see him in about 15 minutes and he’ll most likely be discharged in the morning.

Update 4:54 PM EST on 7/15/09
Dad keeps saying, “I feel so much better. I feel so much better.” He says it feels like a weight has been taken off of his chest.

Here he is, just minutes after coming out of surgery, describing how he now feels and how he feels like he just dodged a bullet:

Update 11:04 AM EST on 7/16/09
Just a quick update to let everyone know Dad called me around 6:30 AM this morning and he sounded great. He said he’d been up and walking around, had had some coffee and something to eat, and was anxious to head home.

He sounded just as energetic as usual, and continued to say how thankful he was for how he felt, as well as for everyone’s prayers. So thank you, again, for all of your prayers. Please keep them up!

Update 8:51 AM EST on Monday, 7/20/09
Ever since his angioplasty last week, Dad still has not been feeling completely 100%. From my understanding, he’d wake in the morning and progressively feel worse throughout the day. I guess there is just some level of discomfort and a feeling that something simply “isn’t right.”

Yesterday Dad was at home while everyone was at Mass and he started to feel light-headed.

He checked his pulse and at three different times, it seemed that he’d skip a beat every few seconds. After talking with my brother-in-law, it was decided to call an ambulance.

The EMTs took almost 25 minutes to arrive, which is ridiculous considering there is a fire station less than 2 miles away, so that of course has us concerned for the future.

But upon their arrival, they couldn’t detect anything out of the ordinary, and it was decided they’d bring him to the hospital to have him checked out. As the evening progressed, it was decided that after EKGs, X-Rays, and multiple other procedures, that they’d check him in for overnight observation.

I talked to Dad about an hour ago and he said he woke up at 5AM, and sure enough, as the morning has progressed, so has the discomfort.

Obviously, it’s the not knowing that is so frustrating to everyone, Dad especially. But we’re all glad he’s being prudent.

We’re still going to do a broadcast today, so hopefully as soon as the show is over at 1PM EST I’ll be able to get some more news from the hospital as to what is to be done next.

Update 9:14 AM EST on Monday, 7/20/09
Mom just called me and Dad was just taken down for a cardio-stress-test. His cardiologist himself will be administering the test. They were thinking it wouldn’t happen until this afternoon, so this is good that they’re on it so quickly this morning.

Update 10:58 AM EST on Monday, 7/20/09
image001Email I just got from my sister: “Mom said Dad is having a Nuclear Stress Test. She called to find out how long he should be gone (still gone at 10:44). Here is info about a Nuclear Stress Test:

When physicians recommend a stress test, they are usually referring to an exercise electrocardiogram (EKG). This test measures the heart’s electrical activity before, during and after exercise. However, technically speaking, a stress test is any test that is performed in conjunction with exercise. Thus, a nuclear stress test usually refers to stress testing that is performed in combination with a nuclear imaging test, such as SPECT scan or a PET scan.

In general, a nuclear stress test is more accurate and provides more information than a standard exercise EKG. However, these tests do have drawbacks. They are more expensive and require more time, and there is exposure to a small amount of radioactive substances.

Because of cost issues and availability of radioactive tracers, the SPECT stress test is the more common of the two. During a SPECT stress test, the patient is injected with a very small, (of negligible harm) amount of a radioactive (radionuclide) substance, such as thallium.

Once in the patient’s body and taken by the heart, this substance emits rays that can be detected by a special gamma camera. The rays allow the camera to produce clear pictures of heart tissue on a video monitor. These pictures show contrasts between light and dark spots, which can indicate areas of damage or reduced blood flow that are present before, during and after exertion.

During a PET stress test, the radioactive tracer (usually rubidium-82) is attached to a molecule such as glucose. When the glucose is absorbed into the heart tissue, special sensors detect the rate of absorption and the degree of absorption. This allows physicians to evaluate the metabolic health of the tissue.

A nuclear stress test is often performed in addition to the procedures that come as a part of a standard stress test. Aside from some possible discomfort as the radionuclide substance is injected (twice), this is a painless test.”

Update 12:28 PM EST on Monday, 7/20/09
Update from Nancy:

Test results show it is not his heart and it is not the stent.

Dr. determined that as a result of Dad being required to lay flat on his back the day of both procedures (how many hours was that between the two of them and the transportation between hospitals??) his discomfort is due to muscle strain and tension. Being in ER and then in observation last night on a terrible cot/mattress whatever that gurney thing is called, did not help either!

I am on the way to pick them up and bring home.”

About the author 


Greg is married to Jennifer. They've got five kids.

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  • Thank you Greg both for posting this and especially for being there for them.

    I’m going to post this link on my facebook page because apparently I’m friends with some Minnesota family that are not on your list!

  • Greg;

    Thanks for posting this for us. I am calling Mom with all of the updates. I also am posting to the family website.
    Just to let you know, when Dad had the stint put in that he we could see on him that he was instantly better.
    Hang in there!
    Give Aunt Patty a hug.

  • Mac and Sam said a prayer for your Dad this morning. Hope all is going well.

  • Greg, I really appreciate you keeping us posted. I have been, and will continue to pray. Will keep checking.

  • Thanks, Greg. This is an efficient way to keep us all up to date without wearing any of you out with our questions while things get better–which they will.

    I am praying–although I am not sure why I am bothering because I’ve always been convined that your mother has the most direct link to the Lord and that her prayers cannot be stopped. I think the Lord finds her pretty irrestitible. Marlys

  • Great update, Greg. Thank you – we just got back from doctor appt. and was wondering what was going on. Thanx to both you and Nancy for being there for Mom & Dad.

  • Also meant to say that Dad looks exceptionally good for someone about to go into surgery.

  • Give that cutie a kiss for us please. Thanks be to GOD that he listened to his body. Thanks be to GOD for the doctors and their technology! My dad had some pain in his left arm last May, went to check it out and they wheeled him to the hospital. Quad by pass surgery!!! He is doing great has lost about 30 pounds and feels like a million bucks. They remind me of each other…always smiling. Kisses to mom too! If you guys need any assistance with the kids…give me a call or an email. We will put the W prayer chain out there for all of you! Love and peace to you all..

    Love the w/v’s

  • Read the out of surgery update. Glad everything went well! Say, you’re not letting the Roseglen farm mineral thing get to you…hahaha. I had the balloon procedure done at age 49, a long time ago, and still have the blood flow (or lack of) drawing that the Dr. did for me. You’re doing great. Take care of yourself! Thank you to your children for their site.

  • Great news. Take him out for a steak!… I mean sushi! Seriously, great to hear he’s in the clear.

  • Thanks for the updates Greg. Prayers are coming your way. Pink Sisters are praying also.

    Get well!

    Patty, take care, get some rest. He’ll be home soon enough wanting to be pampered.

  • Thanks be to God who cares for all of His children in their needs. I will keep praying for him and all of you. Mark

  • I don’t think it’s the first bullet he’s ever dodged; am so thankful for the power in prayer. How blessed to have been given a warning and to be smart enough not to ignore it. The rest of you have been there a long time so hope you can all go get some rest. Aren’t families wonderful!

  • Just reading about all of the happenings with you Dad. Wow. I’ll be lifting him up in prayer.

  • Am anxious to hear how your Dad and Mom’s night was. I assume he is in the process of getting ready to go home. When Roger had stents put in, he went to his class reunion that night so hopefully, your Dad will do as well. When a family goes through something like that it takes its’ toll on all of you. Saying prayers for his recovery and in thanksgiving.

  • AWESOME news – thanks for sharing the videos too, I have never seen the sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick – very special to share that moment with all of us. Will keep holding your Dad up in prayer!

  • Great News! Thanks for the update. I know it is not easy with everything on your plate. You all get some rest before someone we all know and love is back at home hopping up to do this, running there to do that, and just generally forgetting how to sit still. Marlys

  • Greg and Jen — Thank God he was able to get to the doctor in time!!!! What a huge miracle that is. Modern medicine is wonderful isn’t it. Usually check your website daily but missed it yesterday…so much happened. Glad to hear your Dad is doing so well and in such positive spirits. God is good. Love to all and if I can do anything for you, please let me know. Love, Julie H.

  • Thanks for sharing. Really, how many people have their Annointing of the Sick on the ‘net!

    Best, KAP

  • Thank you Greg, for the nice way you kept us up to date on a timely basis with your Dad’s proceedure.

    Dick will be hard to keep up with now that the right coronary A is going strong. You boys and girls will just have to stand back and let him rip. I’ll bet he will be almost able to keep up with Pattie!

    Love to the Willit Clan,

  • Hay old timer —– glad to hear you caught the problem before it really became a problem. Very nice that your children posted this diary of your experience and prayers are with you from Florida. Your old friend and classmate —- Paul Johnson

  • To Richard, my beloved brother-in-Christ and former Shanley classmate;

    My heart, mind, body and soul cried out in anguish along with my spirit when I first read of your recent ordeal and suffering! However, my total being also rejoiced when I learned that our Beloved Lord had carried you in His arms though the trial and tribulation that you had endured, and are most likely contining to experience.

    Please rejoice in the knowlege that the suffering of those of us whom comprise the Body of Christ is not endured for naught, but rather it is for our own spiritual well being, as well as for the conversion of sinners and the well being of all others whom God loves of all faiths, religions, races and ethnicities throughout the world.

    Dick, the picture of your peaceful demeanor in the face of your pain and ordeal only reinforced that of which I had already been aware; that being, the beloved faith that permeates the heart of your soul in all that you do, and that infuses all those with whom you come in contact, so that they cannot help but feel this great gift of Christ also.

    I sincerely believe that if you had been on that boat with Jesus Christ and His disciples at the time of the Storm at Sea, the disciples would have found you peacefully asleep beside our Beloved Lord when in their fear and tribulation they came to awaken Him.

    I love you like a brother. My prayers and the prayers of my family will continue to be with you, Dick, and with Patty, Greg, Jennifer, Sandra and with all of your family and loved ones.

    May the peace, love, grace and blessings of our Beloved Lord continue to be with you and your loved ones in all things, always,


  • Greg,
    I just received a copy of an email linking to your blog from Antonio G. This is the first I had heard of your dad’s trouble. I’ll pass the info to the MOW guys.

    God bless!
    Bill Bates

  • Sheesh, I take some time off and all heck breaks loose.

    So sorry to hear of the scare with your Dad. Happy all is well, I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for the successful outcome and pray for continued good health.

    Now, behave yourselves, will ya?

  • Greg — Praying the stress test shows that your dad is ok and just adjusting to the newly opened veins. Stress and nausea seem to go together. Maybe his body is just used to being on the go and he doesn’t like having to take it easy. Hope all goes well. Thinking and praying for him.

  • We are praying for him. Again, appreciate this web site and being able to keep on top of what is happening so far away from us.

  • Good heavens!! Can’t believe this would happen to YOU!! (The healthiest one in our class!) So happy to hear things are going well….know you are in my prayers, and I’ll spread the word to classmates here in Fargo. Keep those great spirits up! (You too, Patty!)
    Thanks, Greg, for this great site.

  • my prayers will be offered for a full speedy recovery. Thanks, Kathy P for letting me know.

  • Greg and Jennifer: God bless you for sharing your story on the podcast. Really moving and such a clear expression of God’s work through you both. GOD BLESS YOUR DAD!!!

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