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.”

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