Wednesday, October 2, 2013

john paul & geeky cool science

Well, the bottom part of this post will contain the "geeky cool science" parts.  The first half of this will serve to update on how our week started.  As I sit here in the family lounge listening to a Hmong interpreter talking with a loved one, two others conversing about their mother down the hall, I am trying hard to draw on the memory of the last 72 hours...  it's been a whirlwind!

Henry called me mid-afternoon on Monday, September 30, while I was in a work meeting, from his father's cell phone.  Of course, I didn't know it was Henry, but it's not like my phone to ring with calls from home, so I was apprehensive saying hello

"Mom, there's an ambulance here and Dad's not feeling well.  He's got chest pains."

{insert: MY heart suddenly, instantly, racing out of control...  and my feet, somehow springing my body into motion}

I immediately stopped what I was doing and started back for my desk.  I received a text from my neighbor letting me know she was at our house as well.  I sent a quick email to those I work for and I was out the door.  Texting, driving, and not sure which direction to head (home or hospital).  I know, I know.  Don't lecture me.  What would you do?  He was still in the house, I'm only 10 minutes away, and CHEST PAINS aren't exactly something to mess with, right?  So I kept an eye on my ever-changing messages and took a right turn...  heading to meet him at the ER.

I arrived shortly after he did.  Found an "un-named man" in room 10, who arrived by ambulance with chest pains.  It was JP.  My first question to the person getting him into a gown and tagged with do-hickeys (whatever those chest monitoring pads are called), "Do you have a cath lab on-site?"   Yes, yes they do. 

9 hours later...  still in the ER...  still not at a pain level zero, so not being moved upstairs.

I left to go home and be with the boys.  Reassure them Dad will be okay.  Everyone already on "prayer warrior" status.  He was in good hands, under an hour from {presumed} attack, and waiting on a confirmed diagnosis and treatment.

Somewhere after 9 pm, he was moved to ICU.  Pain level .05.  Yes, that's what he said.  Being feisty, impatient, and who knows if he was truthful, he finally landed somewhere other the uncomfortable ER bed.  Still no confirmed diagnosis.  Blood drawn.  Multiple doses of Nitrol, a few rounds of Morphine.  Have I mentioned he dislikes hates drugs?  No, I mean really.  He had previously been diagnosed with high cholesterol and was told to take Lipit0r.  Well, after a little searching on Dr. Google, he was put off by side effects and chose not to take the prescribed drug.

JP is healthy.  Exercises.  Eats right.  Adds jalapenos and hot sauce to everything.  He doesn't smoke, if you ask him.  He smokes cigars; doesn't inhale.  He does drink, both beer and "the brown stuff", as I so affectionately refer to it.

Heredity.  Period.  That's what gets him this far.  Ok, and the beer doesn't help (hopeful he will come to his senses and now change his ways in that regard), but if you saw him, you'd otherwise wonder why he ended up in the ER. 

Backing up:  He got back after his 10 mile bike ride, took a shower, couldn't stop sweating.  Lay down for a while, it didn't get better.  Sat on couch, looked in the mirror and was white as a ghost.  Sent Henry to the neighbor's for help.  She wasn't home.  JP then handed Henry the phone and told him to dial 911 and tell them his Dad was having chest pains.

Are you still with me?  Yeah, my story-telling will be a bit scattered.  Sorry.

No bed for me at the "Inn" (aka ICU), so I finally went home at 1 am on Tuesday morning (10 hours after arriving, leaving, coming back). 

Blood draw shows elevated levels of some kind of marker [insert proper wording later].  Six hours later, wee hours of the morning while I'm trying to sleep at home...

Confirmed heart attack

First day October
I get the boys off to school before heading back to the hospital.  I arrive about 6:30 am to JP just awaking.  Still had pain overnight, received more drugs, and another elevated reading of blood marker.  "They will fit him into the cath lab schedule" sometime today.  I understand scheduling, I do, but then suddenly JP is pounding touching his chest again in the sternum.  Pained look on his face, just as agitated and, from what I can tell, as much pain as when he presented over 12 hours earlier.  I am thankful that the internist, Dr. Jeff, is present.  I met Dr. Jeff at 12:45 am.  I look to him and tell him I'm not happy with JP's level of pain again and they push more drugs.  Ok, trying to stay calm, but WTF?!  Really?  more drugs to mask the symptoms?  Could we PLEASE DO SOMETHING about the underlying issue at hand?  Thankful for the mind-reading at this point, because as Dr. Jeff looks into my eyes, the drugs not working, he suddenly makes a decision to push this through as a 'stat' medical event and JP will be taken immediately to the cath lab.  Finally.

Well, let's just say that immediately wasn't quite as quick as it happened.  I decided that things in a hospital pretty much follow the military's motto of hurry up and wait - but at least we were moving toward resolution.

JP was wheeled down to the cath lab.  I followed along, and we parted ways in a back hallway somewhere.  Kissed him and off I went to wait.  My prior medical company employee status not able to play a part and get me into the tech room.  I was relegated to wait...  as the wife....  helpless.

I set my iphone timer as I sat down.

Thirty-three minutes.  That's all it took to discover, insert a stent and bring my husband to a relatively pain-free status.  Perhaps even less time, but that's when his name was called out to me in the waiting room and I stopped the timer.

Fast-forward to the cardiologist, Dr. Roh, talking with me about those 33 minutes.  Time that both dragged on and then flew by as I was praying.  Hoping.  Waiting.  I had not met, nor talked with him prior to this time.  He did not know my affinity or relation to my former employer.  Imagine my moment of utter, thrilled relief when he said they placed a Promus Element Plus stent into my husband's artery.  An artery that was 99% blocked, mind you.  holycrap.  "He will be feeling much better now", said Dr. Roh, and then he says, and I quote, "it's the best stent on the market".  I inform him that I previously worked at Boston Scientific for 11 years in quality/design assurance.  I know this product.  I know the team that worked on it. 

...................and exhale

Which brings us to today.
Prayers answered.  Miracles performed, by skilled doctors, with guidance from above (yes, He gets credit for this, in so many ways).  99% blockage of the mid-circ artery opened up by a product of modern science, coated with a drug that will release over the next 30 days and help keep away restenosis.


The stent

The Mynx Closure Device

A new man, having just celebrated double-nickels, with his boys by his side.  A few new lifestyle habits to incorporate, one of which includes taking a couple of drugs on a regular basis (he will learn to be okay with this).  We are blessed to have him with us another day.  We are so very thankful for modern medicine, skilled physicians, wonderful care attendants, a plethora of friends and neighbors who come to assist at a moment's notice, and all who have had even a thought or prayer for our family in the last few days.

We can only hope to continue paying it forward. 
One day, one breath, at a time.
{to be continued}
so much more to tell...
social media, large family, network of friends rallying to help, pastoral visits,
connection with woman taking ECHO, boys' reaction, neighbors pitching in,
connection to med device community, and thank you's

1 comment:

  1. JP, you stubborn bastard, as I walked away from your house, I told Henry, "Are you kidding me? Why the long face? Your dad doesn't give us THIS easily." Cheers my friend, go easy on them in there.......we'll be glad to have you back in the hood.

    Hank, well played. Calm, smart & while your head must have been reeling, you completed the play.

    Julie, we hope you get a big nap, very soon.

    Take good care you 4.........and we'll see you around the block. The very best block, maybe EVAH.