After a restless night... a new day, with new promises. A quick recap, after five weeks of tests and check-ups, I had open heart surgery on September 15. Three things were needing repair. The first one I knew about really quick – an aortic aneurysm and knowing about it seemed to be the least talked about part of the operation.
The second part was a hole in my heart... roughly 2 inches long, the surgeon said that I was born with this defect. I think of all the times I played sports and got banged around in pick-up games yet nothing serious ever happened to me. By the time I was in 8th grade, I was beginning to become a “big” guy – not fat but muscular. I still remember having a brief fist fight with a kid who was a close friend at the time. We started pushing each other around and he gave me one shot that put me on my knees, in pain and in tears. He hit me squarely right above my heart and just under the collar bone. I was so ashamed to be dropped by such a “weak” punch... now I understand.
The third part of the surgery was replacing the aortic valve. This was done with a mechanical device. If you listen to my heart you'll now hear a “click-click.” This part of the surgery was when my surgeon got shocked. He asked me how I was living at all. He couldn't believe that I was even breathing. He described the valve as letting a little blood going through it with every beat. He described mine as a shakened-up champagne bottle. It would start to open and liquids were going everywhere except where they needed to be.
For the first time in my life, my oxygen levels are about 90%. After the other surgeries I had in the past I always told nurse and doctors that my levels were always low and didn't bother me. I remember when my appendix came out that my levels were 80%.
Right now, it's learning new routines and getting back in shape. Hopefully to get rid of some meds and find new comfort levels for my body.
Some messages you get while having these type of events will always stick with you. The second night there, I was in a lot of pain. At 3 AM, I had a nurse come into the room and she offered to take me for a walk to see if that would settle the pain down or maybe I would just be so tired I'd fall asleep.
We were walking down the quiet hallway, hear the odd beeps from different rooms and different machine... she said, that I needed to look at the bright side of things. Bright side? Yes.
She said just imagine doing this if you were still smoking... oh that thought... I quit in 2010 and can not imagine trying to do this with a cigarette still in my mouth