Health

My Heart will Go On – Gail Haspert – Medium

My Fluke Heart Event

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Last December, I had open heart surgery. It was a complete fluke. I didn’t have any of the typical risk factors. I’m not a typical cardiac patient. Before I had the surgery, my blood pressure was so low nurses often took it three times to make sure I was alive. 
 
 It all started with a bad shaking-my-innards cough. I thought my cough was due to the Camp Fire, which was raging 100 miles north of here. Instead, I had pneumonia and strep. 
 
 My primary care doctor called to tell me to report to the hospital and meet the head of infectious diseases
 
Do I have to?” I whined like a 5 year old.
 
 “Yes” he said.
 
 Usually he tells me to woman up, take over-the-counter meds, and get better on my own. This time he told me to bring my phone charger. 
 
 It seemed to take all of El Camino Hospirtal’s doctors and techs to determine the problem was with my heart. If it were my liver or kidneys, I would have decided it was due to some lifestyle choice — too much ice cream and sitting around — which would have made it my fault. This was too bizarre to be my fault.

Daisuke Koya, Kazuyuki Shibuya, Ryuichi Kikkawa and Masakazu Haneda

The Strep decided to colonize on my aortic valve. It seemed like bad sci-fi — it was like War of the Worlds mated with Fantastic Voyage.

Mary, my good friend, urged me to get a second opinion before surgery. I asked my doctor: “do I need a second opinion?” She said, “You don’t have time. Surgery is tomorrow at 7.”
 
 The day after I had surgery, I felt strangely good. The only indication I’d had surgery was a horrible scar down my chest. 
 
 I wanted to slather the scar with moisturizer and vitamin E. I knew better. I now have a slightly uneven pinstripe scar.
 
 Mary said: “I’m going to love that scar because it saved my good friend’s life.”
 It took me a while to see it that way.
 
 I now have a pig’s aortic valve. I call it Miss Piggy. She’s doing fine.
 
 I would have preferred a cow’s valve, but I figure the Kosher God will understand this better than BLTs.


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