The Heart Of The Matter

Dad's out of surgery.  Everything is going swimmingly.

For some reason, my family doesn't think of telling me about medical stuff.  I had no idea my dad had prostate cancer once already until he casually mentioned it during his last trip.

I'm guessing this was the reason for his phone call on Wednesday.  When I talked to him on my birthday, he said he was going for a checkup because of heart palpitations.  He was figuring they would just have to adjust his medication.  I told him to let me know when his appointments were finished.

Well, all they did was test so he didn't bother to call.  When I finally got in touch with him that weekend, I didn't bother to hide my annoyance.  He told me he would do better.

So, on Wednesday, he's explaining the doctor visit.  They decided to give him a heart monitor.  It sends signals either via cellular network or over wifi, so it would keep constant tabs and establish a pattern.

On Friday, mom and dad got a text in the middle of seeing Baby Driver.  It said they were concerned by what it was reporting.  Dad felt fine, no pain or anything.

Saturday morning, text comes in to get to the hospital right away and be ready for surgery.  So dad drives himself and mom to the hospital.

My dad is aware of the disdain, bordering on outright fury, I have for doctors in general in the state of Florida.  This didn't help.  They get to the emergency room.  No one can reach the doctor.  No one can reach the nurse.  But they've already called in the heart surgeon.  Mom and dad are ultimately waiting in the Emergency Room admittance for over two hours and no one has any idea what is happening.  Finally, the head nurse decides this is bullshit and sticks dad in a bed so that, if the situation is really that bad and something happens, he's already set to be taken care of.

Mom and my sister call me last night on the verge of tears.  I eventually talk them down with some basic reasoning -- as far as bad situations go, this is one of the best.  He drove himself to the hospital, he's feeling no pain.  In other words, his body isn't already fighting something and hasn't gone into shock.  This means a speedy recovery time and, best of all, no collateral damage like aneurysms.

"Do you think he's going to need a heart transplant?" my mom asks.

Not gonna happen.  If that was on the table, you'd know it by now.

I explain to them that the risk of death from open heart surgery thirty years ago, the last time I looked into it, was 0.03%, and technology and science have only improved since then.  My dad's allergies and medications are well documented, so a reaction like what happened to Monty Ouhm (may he rest in peace) won't happen.  It's a miracle of modern medicine, and he'll be fine.  And that wasn't bullshit on my part.  I actually went to bed and fell asleep.

Dad got wheeled into surgery about 8AM Chicago time.  He was out a couple of hours later.  They found 80% blockage in one artery and 90% in the other.  Two stents inside, adding to the four he's already got (I told him to bring a card with four punches and tell the doc he's trying to get his free one.  He actually did it, so his sense of humor is intact.  I also asked him if he could keep whatever they remove in a jar for me.)   In fact, he could have gone home shortly after the surgery, but the doc and my dad agreed it would be best to keep him there overnight for observation, just in case.

So things are fine, everyone's calm, and science marches on.


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