Mar 10, 2012

Adventures in Open Heart Surgery Part 1

Mark had really wanted his surgery to happen soon.  He was getting out of breath just getting halfway up the stairs.  His hands started swelling so that he couldn't get his ring off anymore.  He started to cough a lot due to the fluid starting to build up in his lungs.  The idea of having the surgery in less than a week was so overwhelming to me.  I felt that I had so much on my shoulders.  My mom and Christian were coming to Utah to drop Christian off at the Missionary Training Center.  Mark argued that it would be terribly convenient.  I didn't want to inconvenience anyone.  I just did not feel ready.  I called my mom and asked for her input.  She said that if Mark was feeling crummy then we should just get it done.  I gave in.
Originally, the plan was to come in at about 5:45, but they called and asked if we would come in later, at 8am.  We got to sleep in a bit more.  There was so much stress and apprehension around everything it was so difficult to sleep with this all on my mind.  I got about 2 hours of sleep.  At that point I had had a migraine for about 4 1/2 days.
When we arrived at the hospital they had Mark dress in a funky gown that had a heater that could be attached to it.  We were both feeling nervous and felt like the wait was an eternity.  Mark's awesome sister, Jeanette, came with her daughter to wish Mark well. She was able to meet the surgeon, Dr. Mitchell, and ask questions with us.

We said our goodbyes and they started wheeling Mark away to surgery.  Jeanette went home and I went to the waiting room with BFF Kari.
Kari had lost her father the year after I lost mine.  Her father died from lung cancer and had a difficult ending to his life.  We sat and talked about our dads and cried and hugged.  I was so glad she decided to be with me, I don't know how I would have handled it without her.
They started the surgery at around noon.  They had a liaison who would come about every two hours or when something big was happening to give us updates.  About an hour or so into the surgery she came to let me know that they had stopped Mark's heart and that he was currently on the heart/lung bypass machine.  This was strange, surreal and difficult to hear at this point.  I knew that he did not currently have a heart beat.  I just started crying.  It's just an uncomfortable thing to think about that aspect.
After about 2-3 hours they let me know that he was still on bypass and that the surgery was going really well. They had told me before the surgery that, because it was a repair, it would take about 5 hours just to do the surgery itself.  I knew that if the repair didn't work then they would go ahead and do the replacement as we had discussed.
Around 5pm they cam to tell me that he was off of the bypass machine, his heart started right up and they were checking for any leaks and such.  They wanted to be sure that it was a good repair.  Once they were sure they would close him back up.
Around 6:30pm the surgeon came out to meet with me.  He looked tired, but happy.  He told me that the repair was very difficult.  He said there was a tiny little leak but everything looked good and it went very well. I was so relieved to hear this.  I was so excited and anxious to see him.
At about 7:40pm I was able to go up and see him in the ICU.  They called me to let me know to come right then if I was to get the picture Mark wanted of himself with a breathing tube(yes, he is strange, but that's my Mark!).  I got up there, took the picture and just looked at him.  He was started to come out of the anesthesia a little bit.  He was pretty swollen(to be expected), but I was just so happy to see him alive.  They had me step out while they took out his breathing tube.  I still watched him through the window because I was just happy to be able to see him.  Kari stayed with me and we hugged and cried.  Then we decided that I would be okay and she could head home to be with her family.

I came and stood by Mark while the nurses got things situated.  I grabbed his hand and he squeezed back.  It was such a nice feeling.  After a little bit I started to notice his heart rhythm was a little off.  The nurses seemed calm so I didn't think much of it.  Then I noticed they started talking about his blood pressure.  A healthy blood pressure is about 120/80.  I didn't notice what the bottom number was, but the top on was in the 70s.  Another nurse came to join.  The surgeon came in and they started discussing his heart rate and blood pressure.  I asked one of the nurses if this was a fairly common thing.  She said, "Ummm, well...iiit happens from time to time."  Not really an answer that comforted me.  I felt really calm still.  Everyone seemed to now what they were doing.  Things started to change though, and change quickly...

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