Apr 30, 2012

Adventures in Open Heart Surgery Part 4

(Warning: Pictures may be too graphic for some readers)
I drove home in a fog.  It was about 4:15am and I was exhausted.  I was in such shock.  I was replaying the events of the day in my head.  It was unreal.  I came home and couldn't seem to unlock my own door.  Christian had been sleeping downstairs, waiting for me and opened it for me.  I replayed the events and my shock to him.  We just talked for a little while.  I walked up to my room, my mom had picked it up for me and gotten my bed ready for me.  I climbed into bed and tried to sleep.  I couldn't turn off the light.  I didn't want the reality of me being alone while Mark almost dying to be real.  I prayed and heartily thanked my Heavenly Father for allowing so many to help and save Mark's life.  I also thanked him for his love and comfort as well as all of the prayers and love I had received from others that day.  I finally fell to sleep at about 6:15.
About 7:30am, my mom came in to talk to me.  I told her everything.  I started crying so hard.  She came and held me while we cried together.
"Oh honey!  I wish you didn't have to go through all this.  I have never had to experience this sort of thing at such a young age and with little kids all around.  I am so sorry.  I would go through everything with your father again if it meant you didn't have to go through this."  It felt so nice to have my mom there, to cry together. I felt so much love and validation from her in that moment, it was the best feeling I had had in a while.
The kids started to wake up and I decided to let the boys stay home from school again with all that was still up in the air.  Suddenly the phone rang, it was Dr. Mitchell.  He said that they had just brought Mark our of anesthesia and that he was responsive.  He needed me to get there quickly.  I threw on some clothes and headed out the door.
The drive to the hospital seemed like an eternity.  I couldn't get there fast enough.  Clocks by Coldplay was playing on my stereo, it was a good fast driving song.  As soon as I parked I started to speed walk as fast as I could.  It just wasn't fast enough.  I started wondering if it would be wrong to run in a hospital.
I finally got to his room.  I got right up next to him and I could tell right away that he recognized me.  It was such a relief.

"I love you," he said.
"I love you too," I responded.
The nurse approached me.  "Did he recognize you?"
"Yeah, he did," I said smiling.
She put her hand on my shoulder and smiled, "That's REALLY good!"
I felt so relieved.  Dr. Mitchell came in to talk to me and Mark.  He asked Mark if he remembered anything from last night.  Mark responded, "I remember I thought I was dying.  I was so scared.  I remember seeing my mom."
Dr. Mitchell put his hand on Mark's shoulder.  "Yeah," he said with a pained sympathetic look.  "You were in a pretty bad state last night."

Mark's hands were more swollen the night before, if you can believe it.

The rest of the day was filled with Mark's siblings visiting.  Mark received a blessing of healing and comfort from his brother Brian and brother in law Mark.  I felt so bad for Mark.  He was in so much pain.  He had four chest tubes in(2 on either lung and 2 on either side of his heart).  He was on morphine, percocet and a super anti-inflammatory, but the chest tubes rubbing on his lungs was excruciating.  He was in and out of consciousness, but only conscious because his pain was so much.  He had many kind nurses.  I sat and talked with one and she said that she had heard about me.  She said that all the nurses were amazed by how calm I was during the night before.  I figured out why they were whispering about me that night.  :)

This picture was taken about 3 or 4 days after surgeries.  Normally, things don't look so gruesome, but they ripped the tape off to do the second surgery and it ripped his skin off along with it.  The middle bandage is where is heart tubes were, they had just taken them out.
A couple of days in the ICU and Mark was ready to go to the cardiac floor of the hospital.  By this time Mark was going on 2-3 assisted walks during the day.  They had him standing his first day in the ICU.  It was so difficult and painful for him, but he pushed through.  The cardiac rehab people would come in with a wheel chair, the would put the containers with his chest tubes in the wheel chair and they would slowly walk around the hospital.  It was so important for him to get all the fluid out and walking was one of the ways that would happen.  Another way he could get the fluid out was by coughing.  He had a heart shaped pillow that he would hug every time he would cough or sneeze.  He hated it, but he had to do it in order to get his chest tubes out.
These are what the chest tubes drained into.  They would measure how much Mark was putting out every two hours.  Believe it or not, he filled these up and had filled up part of another two.

The lovely chest tubes that were by his lungs.  These were the cause of most, well, probably all of Mark's pain in the hospital.
I do have a picture of the nurses pulling these suckers out, but I will spare you.  The nurse is showing how much of the tube was inside Mark.  It was about 10 in.  Most of the time Mark had these in they had to "strip" them.  They grab the top(closest to his chest) with one hand and squeeze, then with the other hand they would squeeze while sliding their fingers down to remove any clots that might block up the tubes.
There were a lot of ups and downs in the hospital, but after over a week in there he was able to go home.  He was so glad to finally be home.  He missed the kids and the outside air.  He felt like he was going crazy in the hospital, so they let him leave a couple of days early.
 Due to the narcotics, Mark was either freezing or sweating.  This made him quite miserable and not so pleasant to be around.  :)
 He couldn't sleep much at night, but he managed many a cat nap through out the day.
He was on oxygen for all but a couple of days while he was there.  This was after his chest tubes were taken out.  It hurt to get them out, but he was feeling much better, enough to even give me a smile.

Mark has had atrial fibrillation a lot since he has been home.  They are still trying to regulate it with medication.  He struggles from time to time with pain in his chest from certain physical activities, but over all, he is a miracle.  He returned to work after about 6 weeks at home.  He graduated from cardiac rehab early. Life seems just a little more normal.  We still have to go in to see the surgeon to get his INR(coumadin, blood thinner) level checked to prevent blood clots with the mechanical valve.  Mark said the surgeon talked about me last time.  He said that I was so amazingly calm when Mark was basically dying.  He said that he was amazed because no one is ever so calm when those things happen.  I suppose that's why they never asked me to leave the room and I got to stay there the whole time until he was taken to surgery.  It made me feel good to know that I did the right thing and that I wasn't just in the background.
I am so grateful for the many, many meals that were brought to my family, even when I wasn't home to feed the.  I am grateful for all of the love and support of all my friends, family and strangers.  I am thankful for the many people who babysat my kids or offered to babysit them.  I am thankful for the people who came and helped me clean my house when I wasn't home enough to do it.  I am thankful for two of the best friends anyone could ever have asked for, Kari and Janelle who put up with my kids, my tears and my psychosis.  They knew that Mark wasn't the only one who needed visitors at the hospital and visited me.  They kept me fed.  They kidnapped me regularly to help me stay sane.  They cleaned my house more than once.  They made me feel normal.  I hope everyone can find a couple of friends that they can feel so close to.  Last, but not least, I am thankful for my Father in Heaven who took care of Mark, me and my family.  He was always there, no matter how alone I felt.

4 comments:

Julianne said...

Oh I'm so glad everything turned out well. Thanks for blogging about it. I suppose I would have known everything sooner if I was ever on FB, but I'm not, so I'm happy to hear all is well.

Scott Loessin said...

Alas! I am so glad that surgery gone well. Take Care of your self.May God bless you with his grace.
Scott Loessin

The Halls said...

I know this was months ago, but I've been a bit MIA in internet land. I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to go through that -- either of you -- but what a gift to see so many miracles and the gratitude you have. Thank you for sharing the experience, it's an inspiration. :)

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