Originally posted on Facebook Notes
Early last year I was made aware that my father was having problems that they eventually discovered was related to a detectable arrhythmia in his heart. Initially he was having trouble getting easily exhausted while doing rather simple things. He had a rather obvious weight problem for quite a while and wasn’t in the best of shape so initially it was not as much of a concern and probably a matter of the need for more exercise, but as it he started to run out of breath more and more frequently, a number of doctor’s visits led to specialists and eventually to trouble with a valve in his heart.
The long term goal was to keep an eye on it and possibly make arrangements to do something to repair or replace the valve itself. Well the matter was settled pre-maturely after one rather manic episode with his not being able to breath which required a rush trip to the ER (not a walk in the park considering that where he and my mother retired in northern Michigan, it was more than a 100 mile round trip to Petosky on the other side of the state)
It was brought to my attention through a voice mail while I was at work and a brief email my mother had sent to a long list of us before they made the long trip. The voice mail being the second message in the form of an update included information about fluid having built up in his lungs and the need to expedite the surgery on the valve, apparently replacing it with a cow’s heart valve or something. She also included the name of the hospital and the room he was in.
Avoiding the urge to panic I chased down the number of the hospital reception desk, dialed it up and asked for the room number. A man picked up the phone with a very raspy voice and I asked timidly “Dad?” he answered in the affirmative and I commented on his voice (completely unrecognizable to me) and he told me it was as a result of the tube he had down his throat during the surgery. I asked what they ended up doing and he went on to tell me he was just coming out of the anesthesia himself, but apparently they had to open him up to work on his heart. (“oh my” I thought to myself – that’s far worse than mom’s explanation had made clear)
I talked to him for close to 10 minutes in spite of a few awkward pauses in the call that I attributed were likely due to the circumstances and the anesthesia. Eventually it seemed best that he get the chance to rest and I suggested we could get ahold of one another and talk more after he had recovered and perhaps even gone home.
A few hours passed and I finally got another email from mom. She told me that they had in fact decided to replace his heart valve. She then went on to detail about the amazing methods they used. How the entire procedure was done on an out-patient bases through a small catheter inserted on his inner thigh (wait, huh? what???) and that he was conscious the whole time. Although exhausted and in need of bed rest, they had only kept him under observation for a short period before letting him ‘go home’ where he had been resting for the last half-a-dozen hours or so!
So apparently I called someone’s dad and talked for close to 15 minutes. All I can say is I hope I cheered him up a bit in his moment of recovery and that perhaps after the fact, he might have gotten as much of a chuckle out of it as we did!