Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Brand New Episode

I was at my wine study group Monday morning. We had just successfully identified (blind tasting as a group) six different wines when my phone rang. Not recognizing the number I didn't answer.
Then I received a text message.

"Hi, this is Barbara from the North Texas Heart Center. Your father's here in our office and we need to admit him to the hospital. Could you please call me back? He can't remember your phone number. Thank you."

Stunned, I was.

"How did I get the text message on my phone if Dad couldn't remember the phone number?" I asked myself. "No, no, don't worry about that, just call her back!" So I called and sure enough he was in their office.

Turns out he's been having these dizzy spells. He had one at the Cardio-Vascular Rehab Center where he goes for exercise classes, they checked his blood pressure and pulse. Didn't like it. They put him on EKG. Didn't like it. They called his cardiologist at the Heart Center who told them to bring him over, so a classmate drove him over. The Heart Center put him on a fancier EKG. Didn't like it.

Turns out the electrical leads were fouled on his distributor (as it were) and the ventricles were getting poor electrical impulses and were misfiring. Time for a new electrical system. Time for a pace maker.

About this time I showed up.

After being debriefed, I loaded Dad into the car and we headed across the street to the hospital. Against orders, we drove down the street to his car and got his apartment keys before heading to the ER. He wanted to go home and get some things, but the docs wouldn't hear of it. They saw his condition as critical, the heart could fail in a heartbeat without a moment's notice. He needed to be under constant medical supervision until the procedure.

Needless to say, Dad had a difficult time understanding this.

"I feel OK. I feel just the same as I've been feeling. I don't feel any different." He said the same thing a few summers ago when he was going to have his aortic valve replaced.

"Dad, you're in denial." I was direct.

Of course Dad's big concern was his upcoming Honor Flight trip to Washington D.C. at the end of the week. The doctors were dubious. "It's possible, it all depends on how he comes through the procedure." He pitched every doctor and nurse we saw about how important the trip was to him. After a visit and the door would leave he would look over and say, "I think we made our point." A good salesman never gives up, he just refines the pitch. Dad's technique is to make everyone his friend. Closing the deal then becomes granting a favor. He kept at it all week. Nurses would drop by to say hello even when he wasn't one of their patients.

That evening they gave him a shot of Vitamin K to counteract the Coumedin he takes to thin his blood. The blood has to be able to clot before they would do surgery.

Tuesday morning his bloodwork was fine and he went into surgery around noon.

A couple hours later he was back in his room and he looked and acted like a new man. He ordered some Chicken Soup for lunch and that sealed the deal.

I was talking to Helen later that night and she asked if I thought Dad seemed better after the surgery.

"Immediately," I said. "He looked better the moment we saw him back in the room. His eyes were brighter, his face was less haggard, confusion was gone from his voice."

Wednesday morning they checked the leads, put the pacemaker through its paces and pronounced him ready for discharge. More important they gave him their full recommendation for his trip the following weekend.

Great success!

Like getting the car tuned up and replacing the fuel pump before taking it out on the road.

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