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My Own March Madness – part 3 March 29, 2006

Posted by becoming in Becoming Healthy.
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The next few days are a bit of a blur. I returned to work for a few hours that Thursday, and work a more-or-less full day on Friday. Breaking the news to executive management at work was much easier than telling Lara.

Really, though, at that point there was not a lot to tell: relate what little I knew about the results of the MPS, describe the Cardiac Cath procedure upcoming (acknowledge the risks, and emphasize the possibility that perhaps with "balloons" and stents whatever problems there were could perhaps be fixed while I was on the table). Lara held herself together pretty well. I'm fairly certain she just didn't want me to see how scared she was.

Monday morning arrived much too soon.

I waited in an outpatient room for about an hour, then was taken to the room where the procedure was to be done. There was some pain initially, but I had been pretty thoroughly medicated and by the time I was moved off the table I was mostly feeling veeeery drowwwsy. I remember returning to the room where I'd waited, but then drifted off to sleep.

After a rather nice nap of perhaps an hour, I gradually awoke as a nurse took my "vitals." Minutes later, a doctor I had not met previously entered. Cardiovascular surgeon Dr. James Counce was the one who delivered the bad news. The problems revealed by the cardiac catheterization were so severe that bypass surgery was the only option.

"Bypass. O.K., how many?"

"We won't know for certain until we see things firsthand. At least three, possibly as many as five."

And with not much more said, he was gone. I was… well, 'stunned' seems like a good word.

Shortly thereafter I was moved to a regular room on the third floor. It was from there that I had to make one of the more difficult phone calls of my life. Not knowing how long the catheterization procedure would take, I'd insisted that Lara drop me off at the hospital that morning with the understanding that I would call her as soon as I could with news about how long I would be there …and hopefully a time to come pick me up. My thinking was that it would be better for her to try to stay occupied at work, rather than sitting for hours wringing her hands at the hospital.

I'll confess, I called my office first. It was easier. And it gave me a single practice run at trying to put the best possible positive spin on all this. The response from work was comforting: hang in there, just concentrate on getting better, don't worry about anything job-related.

Then I called Lara. Honestly, I have virtually no recollection of what I said or of what she said. I know I told her what they said had to be done. I know I told her they were going to try to work me into an already full surgery schedule the next day. I know that she arrived at my bedside not very many minutes later. She didn't cry much. I held her as best I could in spite of IV tubes and heart monitor wires.

I promised her that it was all going to be o.k.

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