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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Waiting is one of the most difficult things to in this world, especially when it seems that the waiting may be for word that could change your life. We had gained the impression that we would receive a call on Monday, (two days after the night of falling down) from the thoracic surgeon in Augusta. Monday came, and no call. Tuesday went the same way. In the meantime we had contacted our local GP about Jan's difficulty in eating and in walking, and she went in for an examination. He changed her blood pressure medicine, and took both blood tests and gave her an occult (strange word) set of tests to see if she was bleeding internally. He found her pretty anemic, but with no internal bleeding and a normal white count, and gave us a couple of days to check the effectiveness of the blood pressure meds.

In the meantime we received an appointment with the surgeon at the Medical College. It was a week after we had expected to go, and we had mixed feelings about that. It is good to think that maybe it is not such an emergency that we have to run to the hospital RIGHT NOW, but, as I said waiting is difficult. Our appointment was for a Friday, and we received a call the night before the appointment that we had to be in Augusta by 9:00 AM to have a whole new set of CT scans. (Augusta is seventy nine miles away, and if you are having sleeping difficulties it means you have to get up, what seems to be VERY early if you make it through traffic and parking and arrive at the CT room on time.).

We jumped (well, stumbled maybe) up early and made the appointment. According to our telephone message, the appointment with the Cardio-Thoracic doctor was to be at 3:00 P.M. so after CT ing for awhile we went to the car and spent some time looking for the Office of the Cardio-Thoracic section, which is "off campus" a little way. Fortunately I have a little GPS and though it had some trouble believing we were in Augusta and needed a different satellite, it got us to the office. It was then about 12:30 so we went to kill a little time. (Had an soft ice cream cone at McDonalds which I have come to prefer over my previous addiction to Dairy Queen, then I went to Harbor Freight to look at tools for a minute while Jan napped in the car , etc.) As we were trying to thing what else to do to kill time, my cell phone rang. It was my son in Statesboro informing me that the Cardio Thoracic office was in a panic trying to figure out why we had made it to the CT scan buy not come to our appointment at 1:00 (Never believe what they say on the phone, even if you write it down as they talk.) So we rushed to the office and made the 1:00 appointment at about 2:00. I was pleased that they didn't seem as upset about the time as we were. They were just pleased that we showed up.

We first met with the Doctor's assistant (She may have been a resident, but I got the impression that she was a physician's assistant.) She was a very beautiful lady who asked us both a lot of questions, following up the answers with more questions, they she left and the Doctor came in. He was, to say the least, very impressive. He was the kind of Doctor who gives you a sense of confidence.

He explained that Janet's aorta was about twice the diameter it should be, and was (his words) "full of bubbles from top to bottom.." We got the impression that her aorta is, more or less, on long aneurism from the heart down to the base. We also received the information that, where the aorta divided to feed blood to the kidneys, one side was completely blocked so that one kidney was sort of "desiccated". This may have been so most of her life.

At any rate she is scheduled for surgery in "five to six weeks at the most". The length of time is involved with the nature of the surgery. They want to repair the aorta "intervascularly", (which if I understand correctly is sort of like laprascopic surgery only on the inside of the aorta. ) We were given to understand that this is a new process, and one reason for the amount of time we wait is to be sure that "We have all the equipment and materials ready, and in place to match the aorta." "Of course," the doctor said, "If something unexpected comes up, we may have to rush you here and do it the old fashioned way." (That's encouraging.)

We expected a call last week, and finally received one Friday, from the assistant, who reassured us that the doctor was working on this every day (now that’s both encouraging and scary) and that they would be in touch about the schedule "very soon". Of course, we have learned that "very soon" seems to mean different things to different people.

We left the office very encouraged and went to one of our favorite restaurants in Augusta, Logan's Steak House where we had our favorite salad, the "anything and everything: salad" with masses of crumbled bleu cheese, dried cranberries, a couple of kinds of lettuce, pecans, boiled eggs, lots of other cheese, grilled marinated chicken and a variety of other things that I can't remember. I finished mine, and I am pleased to say that Janet ate almost half of hers which was the most she had eaten in a couple of days.

We then went home to wait for phone calls., and as I said, it has been a long wait. This isn't such a bad thing. For the next four days Janet reverted to being unable to eat or keep food down and seemed to be getting weaker all the time, but now for five days she has had at least two small meals a day, enjoyed them, and is getting stronger. We even made it to the therapy pool where we did NOT do water aerobics, but we did walk back and forth for almost an hour with our little pool noodles. That isn't much to some people, but she is so much stronger than she was. I think strong is good when you have major surgery in the offing. I just wish it were over, and she would be strong and healthy again.

It makes me humble to think that, if we had lived only a few decades earlier, with my quadrupal bypass, her aneurism and strokes, and my neuropathy, probably we would both have been either dead or seriously invalided several years ago. I may gripe about Doctors and Medical care occasionally, but when I pray at night I pray with real gratitude.

More, as we know more


At 7:32 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

Thank you for the update, Richard, and God bless you both.

I pray that everything will go perfect during her surgery. I also believe you are pretty amazing to realize your blessings when the two of you have been through so much. Many people wouldn't know how to do that!

I drove my elderly lady friend to the hospital Monday morning during one of the worst rainstorms we've had in months. It's a 40 mile drive to the hospital, but she had some sort of infection because of a long-standing allergy, and was having trouble breathing. So I got her there safely through rain so thick I could barely see with my wipers going full blast. She is disabled and wears braces on both legs. In my effort to keep her warm and dry getting her from her front door to my car I became soaked to the bone, but was successful at keeping her dry at least, by draping a sun guard over her. When her appointment was over she was hungry and wanted a McDonald's chicken sandwich, so I ran through the downpour again to get her one. I'm telling you all this to let you know what happened next.

There I stood, dripping from head to foot, hair as wet as if I had just climbed out of my pool, (I've somehow misplaced my raincoat and refuse to use an umbrella in a thunderstorm... I doubt that hanging onto a metal rod is a good idea) when a when a woman dressed to kill and dry as a bone walked up to the counter to order. She didn't have a raincoat or an umbrella with her either so I don't know how she managed it. I mentioned the fact that it was amazing she looked so dry and well-kept with what was happening outside and had been going on for hours, but all she said was that she never gets wet! Perhaps she's a witch who will melt. :) Anyway, she began bitching loudly about the poor service: "Look how many of them are back there in the kitchen and only one at the counter! Seems someone is not doing a very good job of training these fools!"

Good grief! There were only the two of us at the counter. This disgusted me so I said: "Perhaps as a spoiled American you should focus more on thanking God for your blessings." This brought me a very dirty look and a tight-lipped frown.

Now you can see why I brought it up. Some people have no clue how blessed they are! I'm sure that God is grateful for people like you.

Sheesh! This is one of the longest comments I've ever left. I should have made it into a post. :)

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

I also should have proofed it before I hit the "publish" tab!

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

This all sounds very serious. I will keep you both in my prayers.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. You and Jan are in my thoughts.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

05 16 08

Thanks for the update Richard. Boy oh boy you both are blessed, but still going through the ringer! I hope and pray that Janet's surgery goes well.

Yeah, I routinely complain about our medical care in the US, but in truth it has saved my life on more than one occasion as well.

So cheers to egotistical doctors who can save our lives. And best wishes. Thanks for keeping us updated because we get concerned when you don't write for a while.

My pregnancy is finally producing complications now and I may have to end up on bedrest. But I am 34 weeks along so I figured something would pop up sooner or later.

Take Care and I will do the same! :)


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