Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Open heart surgery?!" Ohhhh yes.

Many of you are aware of my recent health issue, and all of the outcomes and whatnot. However most of your information has been second-hand from my parrents, and has been rather general. I figure now i will tell you how i myself reacted to everything, and my feelins based on the all the new info. And so it begins.
After we found out that I had an ASD- Atrial septal deffect- or a hole in my heart between the two atria, we underwent lots of other tests. We knew that the hole was about a centimeter in diameter, not a large hole, but still nothing to ignore. So a TEE was arranged. Pretty much, they take an Ultra Sound stick, shove it down my throat, and get a better look at my heart. coming out of that, we were hoping that we would be told that the hole was small enought that we could put in an occluder device. after coming out of sedation, i wanted to know right then what the results were. As it was, we didnt find out til later than night just after dinner. It was then that the Cardiologist called and said the hole was closer to an inch long, and it was very close to the valves in my heart. He and 2 other doctors recommended surgery. However, he made one more call to the guy at Doernbecher chilren's hospital who is an expert with occluder devices. This doctor sounded optimisitic that he could place the occluer. We found this out the day after the TEE, so for a little while we had thought about gettting the surgery done ASAP. with this new information, however, we set up consultation appointments with both doctors on the same day, to see what our options were. The first appointment was with Dr. Burch, the Occluder doctor. He did some more exact measurements of the hole from the copy of the TEE that we brought, and came to the conclusion that the hole was actually closer to an inch and a half. At this point. at that point, i was totally esasperated. It kept getting bigger! what was the point of reading the Echo, if you couldnt read it accurately? but it all had to do with what technology was had, and the angles you looked at it from, and stuff like that, so couldnt get too critical. Then, the secretary mentioned that if the occluder didnt work, then they would have one of their own surgeons perform the open heart surgery. My mom and i both got the feeling that that was not a good idea, and we both later expressed that that doctor would not be touching me. At all. so then we went to the other surgeon, who, if the occluder device failed, we wanted to do the surgery. We later found out that he is about the best heart surgeon in the country right now, so we felt good about that. So, we set a date for the occluder device to be set, and the surgery was considered such a minor surgery, that it could be scheduled within a day with Dr. Swanson, so we left that open. we Found out during that week of waiting that if Dr. Burch determined while he was in the operating room that the occluder device wouldn't work, and therefore didn't put it in, we could transfer hospitals and have Dr. Swanson perform the surgery. If he determined that it wouldnt work after he put it in, then the operation would have to be done at that same hospital, just cause hospitals and isurance companies dont like it when you put the device in at one hospital, and then take it out at a different one... not good. So going in to this procedure, we had very specific hopes. First, we just wanted to the Occluder device to work. It was a non-invasive way to fix a problem, and had a very short recovery period. however, if it didnt work, it needed to not work during the procedure, and not the next day after it had already been placed, although most devices that dont work are discovered the next day. Those were the high, and unlikely hopes. the Day of the surgery, i showed up early, got all situated, layed there for an hour, and then another one, as nurse after nurse came in to take my vital signs, put the IV catheter in, draw blood, take my vitals again, tell me that the doctor would be there shortly, and so on. finally, He came in, talked for just a little bit, and then they administered the Anesthesia, and the last thing i remember is being wheeled to the operating suite. it was actually a very large, cool looking room. I moved myself from my hospital bed, to the operating table, which was actually very wamr and comfortable. However, i do not remember lying down... :) anyway, next thing i know, i was back in my recovery room, with a pressure dressing over where they had inserted the Catheter in my groin, and i imediately asked the nurse if it had worked. She answered but by the time she did, i was gone again. the next time i woke up, there was another nurse, and my parents were in the room. i asked yet again, "did it work?" already knowing the answer. "no" came the answer. that came as both a large disapointment as well as a relief. However, i had had a priesthood blessing the night before in which, was stated, that i woul be given what i wanted, based upon my faith. After hearing that this hadn't worked, i was very emotional, partly because of the fact that i was coming out of anesthesia, partly because i knew that this meant that i would have surgery, and that meant my MTC date might be delayed, although that meant that i would get the surgeon i wanted for the surgery, and the real stinger was the thought that i had not enough faith that the occluder would work, and it therefore didn't. After agonizing over that for a few minutes, my dad pointed out to me that maybe, although that is what i had wanted, was it REALLY what i wanted? I had said all my prayers and completed all my fasts with the firm determination to pray for God's will to be done. Wasn't this what i REALLY wanted? we had felt peace when thinking about both the occluder device as well as the surgery. we had no idea why. i will probably never know why we felt that i should still have that procedure done. What i do know is that the feelins were undeniable, and thats all i needed. So, i came to realize, that what i wanted was for God's will to be done, and this obviously was God's will. We scheduled the surgery to happen the next day. All Day, i was not allowed to move from my back, and i was not allwoed to move my leg. I couldnt sit up, nothing. All because this could interfere with the clotting that was happening in the artery in my leg. It wasnt until 5 hours later that i could sit up. However during this time, people did not cease to call and Text my mom seeing how i was doing. a large group of my peers were fasting for me that day, a fact which brought tears to my eyes. all Day, i repeatedly told nurses about my mission plans, and all seemed genuinely interested. Finally, i was discharged around 7. All day i had been nautious, and had eaten only two saltine crackers, and drank as much water as i could. On the way home, my stomach rejected it all, and here i was in the back of the car both hungery and thirsty yet again. Upon arriving home, i finally felt better, ate a bowl of cereal, had some jell-o, and got my hair cut, Much to my dad's pleasure, As he was the one who did it. At that point my Friend Whitney came over to see how i was doing. this was especially comforting. the rest of my family was at collin's band concert and came home a little while later, and we were watchin a movie. anyway, i had a relaxing evening which was much-needed afte the stressful day. The next morning, we left the house at 5 in the morning. I had some chest X-rays done, some blood work, and then i was shown to my waiting room. There, i was given the "education" on all the post-operative stuff i would need to know. finally, it stopped, and the anesthesia was administered. Next thing i remember i was waking up in cardiac ICU with a tube in my throat. I remeber vaguely it being taken out, and being very happy about that. then i became aware of all the other tubes in me. I had a pick line in my neck, feeding directly into blood stream going to my brain. thats where my happy medicine went. there was a drainage tube just under my incision that fed up into the cardiac cavity to drain the excess fluid that congregated there. I had a urinary tube, and i was hooked up to more machines than i cared to find out about. I was given a button. it was for my pain medication. I could get it every 10 minutes. i pushed that button a lot more often than every 10 minutes. however i still only got it that often. unfortunately even this was an over-dose. eventually i was so drugged, i forgot to keep breathing. i was constantly reminded by my nurse, and my parents to keep breathing, almost at every breath. i am not sure how long that lasted, but when i finally was breathing on my own again, i remember feeling so proud of myself when they all said, "hey, you're breathing by yourself again! good job!" i mean really? about an hour later i felt more like, ya good job self, you've achieved something you've been doing subconciously your whole life. By concentrating. Good Grief. Anyway, they took my button away and pushed it themselved at appropriate times. All this time, i seem to have also been telling jokes. None of which i remember. but im sure my parents would be happy to fill any of you in. anyway, after spending a night in the cardiac ICU, i was moved up 5 floors to the general recovery unit. I walked all the way, a feat which apparently is very uncommon, the nurse said he had never seen anyone make it all the way to their room... although most patients coming out of open heart surgery are usually a good 3 times my age... but hey i'll take the praise. Anyway, i stayed in the hospital until that saturday, or about 3 days. I have now been recovering at home for 5 days. yesterday was my one-week mark since surgery. At this point, i am up and around whenever i want to be, i can walk around for a good amount of time. I dont have to use my narcotic pain pills except at night, when i still cant sleep on my side, and therefore need them to get to sleep, and to combat the pain that comes from lying motionless for too long. but besides that, i have been able to get by with OTC meds in increasingly large time intervals. so thats how it happened. So it was done. So it is written. (i think that was supposed to be said the other way around, but hey it worked for my purposes.)
I have to thank all of you who have prayed and fasted on my behalf. I cannot describe the feelings of peace that have come over me these last few weeks. They truly have been a gift. Also, i believe that my uncommonly quick recovery has been largely due to your prayers on my behalf. Thank you so much for all of your efforts and sacrifices. It means the world to me, and it HAS made a world of difference. Thank you.