So a lot has happened over the past week or so. For one, I’ve been at home in Atlanta since last Wednesday. No worries though, all is fine now. In all honesty, I didn’t know if I would blog about it at all, but I think it’s an important story to tell.
Let me start from the beginning (and sorry for the wordiness)…
Because my dad could tick the box for all four factors that potentially lead to heart disease – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a strong family history – Vishnu’s dad strongly urged him to get a nuclear stress test done. My dad waited a year because he had never experienced any symptoms of heart disease. No chest pain, no shortness of breath, no shooting pains. In fact, we never worried about my dad’s health because he goes to the doctor regularly, takes his medication on time, eats a healthy diet, exercises and stays active, etc. That’s why when the cardiologist came back and told us that my dad has a blocked artery in his heart, we were absolutely shocked.
My FIL advised that it’s probably best to get a second opinion, so my parents went to a different doctor. The new doctor said that my dad has not one but two blockages. In that same visit, my dad made an appointment to get a catheterization and stent placement procedure done, which was performed this past Friday…well, partially.
We headed to the hospital on Friday morning, checked my dad in, and played the waiting game for almost seven hours. When we finally talked to the doctor, he told us he wasn’t able to place any stents because of a few complications and that we would have to wait and talk to a cardiothoracic surgeon the next day. Oh and during the cath procedure, he found three severely blocked arteries – one was 100% blocked and the other two were 60-75% blocked.
On Saturday morning, the surgeon came to talk to us about our options. He told us that we basically had three. One, my dad could take really strong medications for the rest of his life or until we were able to make a decision about how to move forward. Two, they could go back in and place stents in two of the three arteries. And three, they could perform open heart triple bypass surgery. Each option had both pros and cons/ long term and short term risks. After talking to my FIL, my dad decided that he wanted to go ahead with bypass surgery. This option had more upfront risks, but in the long term, we all believed it would prove to be the best for him.
The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday, but for multiple reasons, the surgeon told us that my dad had to stay in the hospital and couldn’t go home. So we made his room our home! My sister stayed with him on Friday night, and my mom and I stayed with him the other nights until Tuesday. We told my sister to go back to school because she had a few exams coming up. If we needed her to come back for whatever reason, we would let her know. She reluctantly left on Saturday evening.
On Tuesday morning, my dad was up at 5:30 am to prep for the big day. My mom and I stood by his bed and talked to him (ok, my mom talked while I fought off tears) and tried to make him laugh. They wheeled him away at 6:45, and my mom and I were once again left alone to play the waiting game.
At about 10:30 am, a nurse came to tell us that my dad was off the heart and lung machine and that the surgery team was in wrap up mode. At 11:00, the surgeon came to talk to us. He said that he was able to bypass all three blocked arteries and that my did really well. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of relief that washed over me when we got the good news.
Around 12:00 pm, we were told that we could visit my dad in the ICU. It was really difficult to see him lying there with tubes coming out of what seemed like every part of his body, including his mouth. But knowing that the difficult part was behind us, we were able to stay strong. Lucky for my dad (and us), his nurse was able to remove the breathing tube in the early evening. He stayed in the ICU for 24 hours, but by Monday afternoon, he was walking to his own private room.
My dad will most likely have to stay in the hospital until Sunday or Monday so the doctors and nurses can continue to monitor his progress. But based on how things are going so far, we’ve been told his recovery will be a speedy one. Knowing my dad, he will be back to his normal, joke cracking self soon! Currently, he’s not able to talk for long (his voice is very hoarse from the breathing tube), however, he’s back on a solid diet and is walking more and more every day.
I plan to write more about my family’s experience, both the good and the bad, but I have to mention the one thing that stands out to me the most. My dad’s attitude throughout this entire ordeal. While my mom, sister and I worried and cried our way through the first few days, my dad did not complain once. Instead, before his surgery, he was roaming the halls, making friends with all the nurses, and cracking jokes about beer (don’t ask!) with the doctors. I’ve always known that my dad is a strong guy, both mentally and physically, and this just proves it even more. If he was ever worried, it never showed on his face. Even now, he insists on doing certain things on his own and only asks for minimum dosages of pain medication. The nurses always have to ask twice about whether or not he wants more because he doesn’t ask for much!
I am pretty sure my dad is a superhero!
Stay tuned for more details about Superman’s progress…
Before I sign off, I have to mention and thank our friends and family for their love and support over the past week or so. From my aunt, uncle, and cousin who came to visit, to our family and family friends who made sure my mom and I were well fed, to my in laws who checked in on us constantly to make sure we were all ok, to every person who called/texted/emailed to inquire about my dad and to let us know that they were thinking about us…THANK YOU! I knew my dad would be absolutely fine because there were so many people praying for him and cheering him on. We are forever grateful!