You know, life can be interesting. It’s no secret that some days are harder than others and some years seem to be harder as well. Now that 2016 is behind us I’m finding that maybe it was a little harder year then I would’ve liked. However I think it’s all in your attitude towards it.
2016 started off in January, as every year starts, with hopes and dreams for a successful, prosperous and wonderful year. You plan what direction you hope the year might take and dream of the possibilities it will bring. You think of your family, your career, the opportunities, summer vacations, milestone birthdays, and the holidays as you go month-to-month pushing through the calendar of how you hope the year might turn out.
When January came last year, I knew I was already planning, and had in the works, the joy of having open-heart surgery. It was supposed to be in January, however, I got bumped. Actually this was okay. (again my good attitude) That meant that somebody else needed my surgery slot right away in order to save a life and I can understand that. My surgery, so I was told, was critical and needed to be done sooner than later but I can’t help thinking that I got bumped because somebody’s mother, father, brother or sister, aunt or uncle (or whomever) needed that appointment time more than I and so I got bumped. And again I’m okay with that.
So February came along. (February 1st to be exact) and I went under the knife for open heart surgery and ended up having to have a double bypass done on my heart. Having surgery for anybody is a downright stressful event regardless of what it is for. And for your heart, where you know full well they’re going to stop your heart, collapse your lungs (so that things aren’t bouncing around inside your chest while trying to do the rewiring) finding the arteries in your chest cavity that they can use to rewire the heart, and then in the end, try to get it all started again. All the while hoping you don’t die on the table or that the machines that are breathing for you, cleaning and pumping your blood around the rest of your body to keep you alive aren’t going to kill you by causing a blood clot or some other issue on the list of issues, because that can and has happened to others. It’s all just sooooo exciting!! Yikes!!
I came through surgery just fine and I won’t lie to you….. it hurt like H E double hockey sticks! I don’t remember much right after the surgery. I know my wife and kids were around me and they were all taking turns spending time with me (because you can only have so many in the recovery room at a time). So I know they were rotating in and out of the room to spend time with me and to share their love and concern for my well-being. However, later they told me of a couple of stories while chatting with me while I was coming out of that deep surgery sleep they need to put you under. They laughed and laughed over one story in particular. Apparently my daughter Sam decided to ask me a question regarding my pain level. And said something to the effective “does it hurt?” Apparently (and in my defense I have no recollection of this event at all), I simply shockingly said “no sh*t Sherlock.” Apparently that got the whole recovery team and the rest of the room laughing. Later it’s reported that I also said something to the affect of “did you get the license plate number of that truck that hit me?” I guess that was funny too, but I have no recollection of it either. I guess I’m just a funny guy consciously or not!! At least that’s what my wife tells me…. 🙂
All these things combined from the surgery meant that for about six weeks I wasn’t allowed to use my arms at all. You see, they have to cut open the sternum of your chest and spread it apart like a turkey at Thanksgiving and this is so they can get their hands, arms and legs inside there to do all the rewiring that is needed. Frankly, I think the whole concept of open heart surgery is very amazing and has a certain wow factor in it. Awesome that they can even do that kind of stuff. For those who are wondering, why wasn’t there some other kind of an alternative to surgery? The short answer is yes, however, apparently I wasn’t a candidate for a less invasive option. If I could have I would have and been better off and the recovery would be much faster.
So-be-it, that didn’t happen. They also told me that I’d probably be off work for about three months or so, maybe ’til around sometime the end of April or beginning of May.(again my good attitude) So, I was planning and looking forward to getting back to work. (Best played plans) Well, about half way through March I found I was having major chest pains again and so the first week of April they scheduled me for another angiogram. What they discovered during that angio really deflated my balloon. They found that one of the grafts had failed. This was why I was having pains again. After much consultation with other doctors, surgeons and specialist with the cardiac team they decided that they could put a stent in one area of my heart to re-feed it with blood from the natural vessel and this they did. In essence, doing this they kind of “bypassed the Bypass” so to speak. Later when I was speaking to my surgeon about it all (after-the-fact) he “reminded “ me that he had some difficulty with that particular artery and therefore had to do the procedure slightly different from normal and with that it could be the reason why it failed.
Ok, ok, I know that everyone reading this is thinking the same question so I’m just going to put it out there, so YES, the thought did cross my mind that maybe the surgeon made a mistake in surgery but apparently since nothing is 100% guaranteed I guess with that “clause” they can just brush it underneath the carpet, so to speak. And for me, myself and I we are left having to deal with that consequence. I mean no big deal to damn me with “if I live or die”, it’s just another day at the office for them. I think they would want me to be alive, it’s good for their records but frankly I know alternately they feel like they “can’t save everybody, right?” And as much as I hate to be a number, I could very well have been one of the “minor statistics”. Furthermore, no other Doctor would ever have the gonads and go out on a lim in my defense and say he made a mistake. (Back to my story)
As the days went by I did begin to feel better and better and I was looking forward to going back to work. I do love my job and so I was looking forward to getting back out in the summertime heat and doing the work that I love to do.(again my good attitude) But again I could not. About the middle of May, only about a month and a half after this last angioplasty, again came the chest pains. Trying not to be a wimp and being a “Man” I was going just work through it but as the pain levels increased more and more I decided (or should I say my wife decided for me) it was a better idea to maybe get it checked out. So back to the doctor’s office again for another follow-up visit and I explained to him that my chest still hurt and once again they would bring me in to do another angiogram. This would be angiogram number three. How exciting!!
June 1st, while they’re poking around inside taking pictures and injecting dye and all that they do do, they discover that graft number two is beginning to fail. According to the pictures they took it kind of looked like Zorro could’ve written his name. The vein zigzagged back and forth. Again they started talking with different doctors and trying to figure out exactly how they can fix this without going back in to full open heart surgery. They decided that maybe what they could do is put a couple of stents in the bypass to help keep it straight, inline and open. So back on the table I went and they added two new stents. It was a bit tricky to put in, not normally done in the bypass vein and apparently the risk is quite high of failure during the procedure because they are stenting a non-native vein. Luckily, apparently it worked and I was back on the mend one more time or at least for about two months of waiting. Again I was starting to look forward to going back to work.
Things looked good for awhile however, as time went on again the pain started to develop in my shoulder and start to spread down my left arm. Again, my first thoughts were to just push through it, suck it up and go back to work.(again my good attitude) After all how could anything else be wrong? Trying to decide exactly what I needed to do versus what I wanted to do versus what I had to do versus what I can do was quite a conflict in my mind. (Good thing my wife was there again) The doctors decided again that maybe another angio would needed. So, October was scheduled for another angiogram and back into the hospital for this wonderful “noninvasive” procedure where you have to virtually let buckets of people check out your manhood area over and over to get into that groin artery….. again. Yes, an option is to go through the wrist and across the shoulder into the heart and actually during the last angio they attempted that. But believe me, I found it to be incredibly painful and the guy doing it was not delicate at all and he worked very hard trying to get that probe exactly where it needed to be. It hurt like h……..eck! So, all things considered back into the groin area, which is no picnic either as they try to get the “unit” in place and to get it lined up for their pictures. I could feel it in my chest again and at first it really hurt but this time something was a little bit different. As they poked around in there I actually felt something move and all of a sudden my shoulder changed temperature. It felt like there was a big rush of blood or something that was moving through the vein. Kind of felt like “the Roti-Rooter effect!” You know, like when you Roti-Rooter dude pushes through plugged sink drain and once the clog is moved out of the way a rush of liquid moves through it fast. I found myself actually almost sitting strait up talking to the doctor and telling him what a relief that was. And then it was scary for a few mins as the thought of the blockage moving, that it might work it’s way up to my brain and kill me or something like that. The staff asked me exactly what I was feeling and I told them same thing I just wrote here. They acted like they didn’t believe me and told me how that’s not possible as they hadn’t really done anything yet (Bull). However, from my point of view, something moved, something was different. Something was better. (Maybe?)
After not finding what they were expecting to find they hunted around some more for something in hopes to eliminate anything else (While they were in the neighborhood). They said they found some “anomalies” that needed to investigate a little closer on another day and a thallium test was ordered with an added stress test in order to work me through everything to find out what was going on. (Side note: Getting so tired of the constant testing.) Another long wait to get “lined up” for such a test (Got to love the Canadian Healthcare system). November came and midway through finally the test was scheduled and I did the testing. This time I felt more like cattle headed to slaughter. Kept looking for a tag in my ear or branding on my behind. The test was interesting but from my perspective I still got a sharpe pain in my left arm underneath my blood pressure cuff several mins after being on the treadmill, the technician determined that nothing was wrong or at least they “think things went well”. My family doctor read the report they sent him and thought it seemed ok, however, I needed to sit to hear from the specialist first.
Now with my heart in stents and myself basically losing almost an entire year of work we come to the end of November. My wonderful mom, a great woman who has traveled the globe and, as luck would have it, who also has a bad heart, she was having difficulty swallowing. After investigation they found a sack, growing inside her neck (Zenker Diverticulum), was filling up with small particles food and drink overtime and it was pushing on her windpipe making it impossible to swallow properly. She had an option of not getting any surgery done but eventually it would continue to grow until such times is it with block off completely. Currently not being able to swallow or even drink much was starting to take its toll on her and she made the choice to have surgery done to remove that sack away from her throat. Again, with any surgery stress levels rise. She had the surgery Nov 22 and fortunately it was a success. In no time she was up talking and laughing with
the nurses trying to marry any of them off to one of her many grandsons. However, as we all know a possible risk with any surgery, a blood clot formed. It flowed to her brain causing a major stroke. She died 8 days later. We had her funeral a week before Christmas.
And thus ends 2016.
I miss her a lot. Lost my dad years ago on my 39th birthday from cancer. So now I ask you dear reader. How does one reflect on a year like this? Reflecting on it all could be depressing.(again my good attitude) I’m not depressed and I’ll tell you how I did it. First and foremost, my family, my wife and 10 children still have their dad. My mom got her wings for Christmas and together with my dad are both free of pain and planning their eternity together.
I now have a
strong heart and looking forward to getting out of the house and earning my keep. I suppose I could look at
2016 with all kinds of regrets, negative ideas and thoughts, but what good would that do? I choose to see it differently. I choose to close the door on 2016 that door to the past and open the door to my future. I’ll take a deep breath and boldly step on through to 2017 and start a new chapter in my life. What it brings I’m ready for. Success, happiness and joy! It’s up to me!
I’m not a believer when it comes to New Year resolutions. I feel that you should have resolutions all year long. Just doing it once year seems to be pointless. If you had a lousy year in 2016 what are you going to do different to make it better this year? If nothing then why would you expect it be any different. One should constantly be resolving to improve one’s self. Therefore, I simply have a different attitude. I call it my “be attitudes”. Below is a list of my 2017 “be attitudes”
The BE attitudes for 2017 are:
Be honest with yourself
Be bold in all you do.
Be fearless to achieve massive success
Be who you know you are.
Be committed to your goals.
Be smart how you spend each moment.
Be positive and positive people will seek you out.
Be grateful for those who benefit your life.
Be thankful to those who love you
Be kind and kindness will come to you
Believe you can do anything because you can
Success is your’s in 2017. Reach out and grab it!!
The Year New has come, the office of the specialist finally contacted me to tell me to contact my cardiologist which I had already booked for the second week in Jan. With any luck he’ll give me a green light to meet with another Doctor to setup the schedule for a return to work plan and hopefully get back to work finally. Fingers crossed! Happy New Year.
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What have you got to lose……just do it!
(again my good attitude)