I am humbled by the out pouring of love for me over the course of last week and beyond. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your kindness and especially your prayers.
It goes without saying that life is a gift. When you are possibly facing the end you feel the ripple of feelings explode to the surface against the tide of uncertainty. This roller coaster of emotion adds to the anxious moments that begin and end with reflection, prayer, and silence. The ride includes roll players (the doctors and nurses) entering and exiting (stage left enter, stage right exit) upon required shift duties not completely realizing the impact they have on the psych of the patient.
Each personality brings some semblance of hope, despair, truth, and fiction. Mix and serve to the patient (taken as prescribed) upon review of vitals. Let me say this, across the board the RN nurses were fantastic offering their gentle care on a schedule that never changed and never deviated from the goal of sending me home much healthier than when I entered. However, they could only do so much as the ultimate game changer is the doctor... and thus here comes the re-cap.
Last Monday night I was not feeling well after dinner. I took a nitro glycerin tablet which usually helps my chest pain. I went to bed and awoke at around 4:30 am to the elephant on the chest feeling. I took another pill and realized that I was not going to be able to just go back to bed. I was sweating profusely and that is when I came to the conclusion it was time to get Nancy to call 911. I was really holding out to make that call because I knew what the ramifications would be the minute that number was dialed.
The paramedics arrived on a white horse (at least that's what I envisioned). They actually arrived with a huge fire engine and an ambulance. They lumbered up the stairs with a gurney and equipment to check my vitals. Then they asked me a series of questions which I'm sure revolved around some aspect of my health and the event leading up to my untimely disposal from my residence.
As fate would have it the new Henderson Hospital is right around the corner and so with sirens blazing I knew I was in this now for the duration. Whatever that meant?
We arrived at the hospital and I was ushered into a room with 10 masked emergency room nursers and doctors waiting to attend to their latest ER patient. The light was bright that day my friends and the surgeons were gloved and prepared to see what could be diagnosed from the camera they had just inserted to reveal the scope of damage to my heart.
This was the first indication that there could possibly be a problem. With concerned looks they marched out of the ER with me in tow. I was placed into a temporary bed as the doctors evaluated their options for successful treatment. After a couple hours a single doctor came to my bedside. He looked at me and said that the potential surgery would be too complicated and that I would have to be sent to another hospital with more advanced equipment and complimentary advanced surgical staff.
That is when I received my second ambulance ride to Desert Springs Hospital. In retro spect I was so blessed to be taken to this hospital. Desert Springs is the number one hospital in Las Vegas. It actually has a higher rating than Stanford.
I arrived and they wheeled me up to the CCU (Critical Care Unit). In this case this acronym also refers to a specialized unit for patients with heart-related problems. That was about noon on Tuesday when I was all settled into my new home for the next 4 days.
I really didn't have any contact with doctors until they had a chance to evaluate my circumstance. This took them until mid afternoon on Wednesday. That is when bed side manner disappeared and the harsh reality of human circumstance reared its ugly head.
The first doctor (I will not name the doctors) told me I had two options:
Go home and have a heart attack in about a month, which would probably lead to my untimely demise.
Or, choose to have the PCI High Risk Stents which could/would lead to me ending up dead on the table.
The second doctor was supposed to be the one that gave me hope that if the stents didn't work out I would be rushed into his unit for open heart surgery. He looked at me and said, " Jack, I've looked at the pictures of your heart and I can only tell you this... if I was to do open heart surgery, it would be like watering a dead plant."
The third doctor told me (after consulting with his colleagues), "The only solution is to send you home. However, I do have one other surgeon I need to consult with before we make that call."
Thank God the last option was the brightest beacon. That doctor told me he was going to do the PCI High Risk stint surgery. He also cautioned me to not have a lot of hope as they couldn't really see what they needed to see without going into the vessels around the heart. And so with that, the next day around 2 pm I was wheeled into the operating room for what could have been my final curtain.
The surgery was performed without an anesthesia. This gave me the opportunity to offer my expert advice on how to proceed. They didn't need it! The surgical team was so positive about my results as the surgery escalated from exploratory to invasive dissection and revitalization. The artistry in which they navigated around existing stents and found a hidden artery on the back side of the heart was a gift from God. Dr. Sanjay Malhotra saved my life. His exquisite team of dedicated young professionals became a life line between my heart and the life I continue to live.
I have to say I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much Nancy did for me, for all of you with her communications. Every day she sacrifices to make my life easier, better, simpler. I am truly blessed to have her in my life. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Marty Macintosh. Marty was there when I needed him most sacrificing his time for my well being. I will never forget his kindness, love, and support.
Finally I would like to say this. If I continue to eat the way I've been eating I will be back in that same unit. My next blog will be about what I've learned about diet that hopefully will help many of you. Now... I'm on a mission from GOD.
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