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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Where we are now!!

Please excuse me if I repeat some things that I have written before, but it seemed important to put everything in context.  One of the men whom I revere in my life is a cardio-thoracic surgeon. I've mentioned his name before, but think that he might prefer to have his name left out of this discussion.  I first met him in the Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki, Finland at about nine thirty in the morning.  He had just come down from about five hours in surgery wherein he had saved the life of my wife, Janet.  I next met him again sometime later, in the waiting room of that same hospital after he returned from surgery where he had spent about two hours doing it again.

For the remainder of our slightly over two month stay in that hospital, I found him honest, swift to make decisions, helpful and caring for the needs of both Janet and myself to an amazing degree.

My only other experience with such a surgeon was the short Iranian man who gave me a quadruple heart bypass and saved my life, or at least lengthened it, I am sure.  He too was caring, swift, and reassuring.

From the experiences above, when our cardiologist discovered "anomalies" in Janet's descending aorta during a routine stress test and ultra-sound, and sent us (her, actually)  immediately to get a CT scan where they discovered that she had an aneurysm that extended from the bottom of the aorta to the top, I was quite secure when we went to see the cardio-thoracic surgeon at the Medical College of Georgia.  I was doubly reassured when he very thoroughly examined her and her tests, and sat down with us to explain the nature and seriousness of Janet's aneurysm.  He explained that though the condition was very serious, it probably could be reduced though an endovascular procedure (using stents of the sort that are used in holding open the arteries in the heart).  He then said that her surgery must be done within four to six weeks, he would line up all the equipment that was needed and call us in a week.  He didn't.   Although I called him and emailed him and it was not until I had a telephone fit with one of his staff, and our local cardiologist contacted him that he finally passed the word along through our cardiologist, and again by telephone that he really wasn't comfortable doing this surgery on Janet. He was worried about the outcome, including possible strokes, paralysis or renal failure.  He told us that he was referring us to a physician in Houston (and gave the impression that he had talked to the person in Houston.)

Now came another episode of waiting.  Gradually my appreciation for cardio-thoracic surgeons was approaching the appreciation held by American Mythology for lawyers.  (I decided not to tell any lawyer jokes at this point).  I also decided that the bureaucracy that surrounds Doctors in University settings is even worse than the bureaucracy in the rest of the University.

Finally the time came, Doctor Cosselli (who, by the way, if Google has accurate information at all is THE surgeon for the type of surgery that Jan has had recommended to her) got all the information from the Medical College of Georgia and from our local cardiologist (a prince among men), studied the information and records and notified us that he doesn't think Janet needs surgery at this time.  She is to get a new CT scan, go about her (and our) business for six months, get a new scan at that time, and if there are significant differences in the scans, he will bring us in to determine what, if any, kind of surgery or treatment is needed.

We have been basket cases from April to the end of August.  We have  given away two Time Share weeks because we thought we might have to go into surgery any day.  We canceled the cruise that we had arranged in celebration of our Golden Wedding anniversary.  I haven't been able to wrap my mind around anything.  For weeks I have sat at the computer, unable to generate anything but spider solitaire.  I belong to three mailing lists that have been very important to me for years, and at current count there are 526 unanswered and unopened messages in my mail program.  All of this because, either the Doctor at MCG over reacted to  the information he had, or because he was just in over his head and it took a long time for him to admit it to himself.  I am eternally grateful that he didn't let it become an ego thing that he had to try in spite of his reservations but that doesn't change the fact that we have lived in a state of somewhat terrified limbo for almost five months.

We Mormons have a lot tied up in faith, prayer, and the laying on of hands, and most of the members of our local congregation, along with many members of our family and a number of folks who weren't Mormons but who have faith and love, fasted with us and prayed on the first Saturday and Sunday of this month, asking the Lord for some kind of resolution.  Janet received  a blessing, through the "laying on of hands" that Sunday that the Lord would be with her and that there would be an appropriate resolution soon.  I consider what has happened since then an answer to prayer.  To those who read this who were involved in that fast, and who have prayed for Jan for all these months I would like to thank you from the depths of my heart.

Several of you who read this with some regularity have noted in the comments or by email that you have prayed for us or for some that don't believe in prayer, have kept us in your hearts during this period.  Thank you so much.  I think I feel that life will come to some sort of normalcy and I owe that to you, and to our Father in Heaven (that religious  stuff again)  Thank you again.  We have felt such love from so many in this time.  Janet is not healed,  they keep her blood pressure so low that she only has a few hours at a time when she can do the things she wants to do, but the prognosis is so much improved.  I will try to let you know, without the blog being a health record, how things go for the next few months.


At 11:10 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Richard, I am keeping you and Janet in my prayers during this difficult time. You are blessed that that surgeon did not "experiment" on Janet and that the Houston guy was cautious.

When you first mentioned the aortic stent, I researched it and found that it is still very new and iffy. Janet's body will adapt to having low BP but it is not easy and it's now time to slow down and smell the roses.

I mean really slow down. Let's face it - you've both led pretty hectic lives till recently. At least that's what I've gathered from your blog.

Sorry I can't offer some nice platitudes but some of us (including me) can't compete in the Olympics as we age. Some can. Is it fate, luck, genetics or....? I don't know. So I'll shut up.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

At last, you have some answers and direction. Both you and Janet will remain in my prayers. Your love for and devotion to each other is priceless and a joy to witness...even from a distance in blogland.

Thank you.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

Thank God,Richard, that the doctor was wrong, but what you went through must have been horrible indeed! I can't even begin to imagine the stress you have described. You can breathe a little easier now and maybe clear out some of that e-mail!

Both of you will remain in my prayers, Richard. May God continue to bless and watch over you.


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