Ok, so I’m in recovery after the procedure. I was pretty scared but it went pretty well. I was promised the good drugs (mild sedation) but that didn’t happen and it wasn’t necessary — the procedure was fairly tolerable. I mostly had to focus on remaining calm and still. I could hear the discussion as they examined my heart which was weird because all I was thinking was “please, just fix my heart guys.”
Ultimately it was over and they gave me the bad news. I have two large obstructions in the LIMA artery. They can correct it using open heart surgery, which will last longer or by doing the same procedure I just had and using a stent which will be good for about ten years. The Cardiac Team will stop by to discuss the options with me soon.
Resting after the procedure and it doesn’t look like the Cardiac Team will come and talk to me today, so probably tomorrow.
I see some people have been asking how they can help, well, I do have this Paypal donation link that I haven’t used for a while. I’m not expecting to be hit with Medicals Costs, but I should probably be prepared for that possibility. I joined Obamacare years ago but I have hardly ever used it and this might be a big hit, I think it’s currently set up through Medical but I don’t know the coverage limits.
(11:30 am Thu)
Looks like the Docs have to do more tests and evaluations, and I may be here a couple of days before they come to me with their recommendations, They took a deep arterial blood sample last night. They have me on a liquid diet,
I’ve got 3 different IVs going, two on my left arm. — one on the right, They’re still pumping Haperin into my left wrist and they have to regularly draw blood to check my coagulation levels. The IV on the right isn’t allowing any more blood to be drawn, but the second one on the left still works. Barely. Overall, I’ve got about 9 holes in my arms — although a few are now healing.
My biggest problem is that I didn’t bring a phone charger so I’m out of power and I can’t get into my accounts to move money so my wife can order herself some food. (Usually, I shop and prepare the meals) The online banks have 2-step authorization which still requires the phone, One nurse says she’s found another with a new ANDRIOD charger (This is apparently an APPLE town) so I can get back in the game and deal with the money issues. More on that soon, stay tuned.
A cardiologist named Dr. Shaw just came by to talk to me about my options. She was surprised the team members hadn’t already talked to me (so am I). She outlined that open heart surgery is “pretty routine” and that it would be a permanent solution, as compared to.a stent which would last for a decade and had the additional risk of the stent collapsing (not a 0% chance) and the location of the blockage in the left artery is not a “normal” position for stenting. I’m gonna be on heart medication for the rest of my life. I’m taking all this in, but there are several other doctors, including the main surgeon to talk to.
Also, my wife called the hospital and we had a discussion of everything, She ordered a pizza so she can stretch that out of couple of days while we sort the funds. I filled out my timecard (as her IHSS provider) yesterday, so there should be more cash for food in a couple of days. I have some savings, but I need my phone to access any of it.
Phone is charging, money transfered. Yippie.
There’s been a discussion that my healthcare is based out of St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood. Where I’ve never been and know nothing about. There’s been some issue that I need to be transferred there, and I’ve said “No” (because the doctors working on me are here). Now I’m being told that I need to go there for my insurance to remain valid or else I might have to pay out-of-pocket. (Which I can’t possibly do). Supposedly.I need to call my Insurance provider, but I honestly know nothing about them and don’t have contact info.
I’ve been told I’m going to be moved to St. Francis at 6 pm. I managed to get hold of my health provider (which is HealthNet and Molina) and give them a call to see what my options are. The Hospital here has been told I need to go to my Capitated Hospital (St. Francis) for further care, but I drove here — so what happens to my car here while I’m there? Molina referred me to Angeles IPA to request authorization to stay here, but their number keeps rejecting incoming calls as being “overburdened.” I have family in town but I doubt they could get here to pick up the car in 90 mins.
Also, the Docs here have been working on my case already.- now I have to start from scratch with a new team? Ugh.
So I’m being remanded to St. Francis, which is a bummer. Twice as the Doc informed me of this situation — and as he gave me a CD of my catheter exam, a copy of my latest EKG and other details — he stated that “Healthcare in the U.S. sucks.” (Yeah, I’m hip!)
My cousin Mitchell will meet me at St. Francis, then take the car home because it has my wife’s wheelchair in it — so that’s another punch in the bingo card. [Technically it’s my mom’s car and she passed in November.]
On the one hand I’m very fortunate that happened to happen to me after the finale of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 and before the premiere of Ashoka Season 1 — it’s the perfect timing so I don't miss any of my nerdy Sci-Fi shows.
Also, as I’m sitting here doing next to nothing I’m still posting news articles and commentary on my Facebook group Army For Truth.
One of my oldest friends told me there I shouldn’t “post political stuff” because it would “worsen” the stress of what i’m dealing with. He’s known me a long time, but he doesn’t know my Dkos life — which has been more recent. Talking about politics and public policy isn’t stressful for me, it’s relaxing. Holding in what I’d like to say is stressful.
Talking about and discussing current events and politics isn’t just a “thing” I do, it’s part of who I am. Just an FYI.
Besides, what else am I gonna do, there’s no TV here and I’ve already finished my jelly and apple juice? [Also, I don’t know if St. Francis has internet — which might be a problem.]
The St. Francis move has been pushed back another hour to 7:30-8:00 pm. Visiting Hours there end at 7 pm, so I’m informing Mitch. We’ll have to get together tomorrow.
I’ve arrived in room 7209 at St. Francis my new dungeon away from home. I tried to make some fun small talk with the EMTs during the trip over healthcare and various issues, my own situation with the stent vs open heart, and my previous experience as an IT consultant with Kaiser Permanente. So it was a fun trip, even though I’m still here only under Insurance duress. [One of them checked on my car, so I appreciate that.]
Now, I’m meeting my new nurse, who is a little abrupt, so this might be a little tougher than Harbor was. Direct message me If you want the phone number to the room.
The nurse wasn’t able to hook up my ECG monitor and didn’t put in my Haperin IV yet, and I’ve been here 2 hours [she's waiting on the Docs orders, she called him twice and he hasn’t responded]— so things are not encouraging, but I do have my own TV now.
My Halperin drip is finally re-established. Procedures for the nurses and equipment here are different. They only take BP manually and don’t have automatic machines. They stuck a brand new needle in my arm to take blood when I have 3 IV ports already in place. Two of those IV ports have been bleeding and they didn’t bother to flush them until over an hour later. It’s a change, I’ll adjust but I’m not feeling up to lightening the mood with my dad humor. The ECG still isn’t restored or working after 3 hours. I’m not whelmed, but they are polite.
[06:40 am Fri]
I can see the sun rising through the window, which means I’m facing East and that’sa little disorienting. Arlene my main nurse whose been with me since I arrived last night at 8pm (so she’s on a 12-hour shift?) is still trying to fix the ECG monitor but that’s not succeeding yet. She generally, nice, polite and apologetic for having to wake me up time and time again, but she responds to me asking even the simplest question like it’s an accusation — which it isn't, it’s just a question. I’m hoping to meet the cardiac team from St. Francis today, making the decision on the future plan and setting a timeline for events.
CNN is reporting that CAT 4 Hurricane Hilary is headed for Baja California and Southern California and I have some windows open upstairs at home to help release some of the heat we’ve dealt with for the last few weeks. My wife Robin can’t climb the stairs so I might need to get home in the next.4 days to deal with it. The storm presents another problem because there’s also a hole in the roof over the kitchen which previous rainstorms have caused to collapse part of the ceiling — it’s an ongoing problem we’ve been working on, but again, that won’t get fixed by next Tuesday.
The House is a mess as neither one of us has really been in physical shape to do tons of housework lately, as -again- she has MS and epilepsy, and before this problem, I had recurring bouts with some excruciatingly painful gaut which has had me flat on my back for as long as two-weeks straight. I last cut the lawn in February, and looking back in hindsight — it made me pretty exhausted at the time, so I was having some symptoms even way back then. I’m in no shape to deal with it now. In an effort to clean up, when able, I’ve been tossing out trash by the boatload — usually about 15-20 bags of it at a time — on Fridays when the bins from the local apartments are out on the street. Can’t do that today.
Nurse Arlene is turning me over to Nurse Elise.
They just announced a public prayer over the PA system. So literally St. Francis then — a Catholic religious hospital. That means my government-funded Obamacare forcibly, with the threat of being financially cut-off for care, put me in a religious medical center? It doesn’t bother me, but it does give me some Establishment Clause confusion.
I just had a meeting with the Chaplain, who is Sister Laura. She was nice enough and gave me a blessing, which was quaint.
An internal medicine physician stopped by and told me that I’ll be seeing the surgeon this afternoon.
I had been on a liquid diet at Harbor, then kind of in limbo after the transfer so I actually had a turkey sandwich late last night, now I’m on “no food” so I guess they're trying to prepare me for a procedure. It would be nice to have already had the discussion of *which* procedure but that simply hasn’t happened yet.
A cardiologist name Dr. F Decari [sp?] came by and caught up with me. He said that surgery was the best result for the Left Main artery, which if fine — but I said I’d prefer the stent for now and If it fails in 10 years I can get the surgery then. The surgeon apparently works both here and at Harbor so he said he’ll have him talk to me. [I’m talking, but I don’t yet get the impression their hearing me completely yet — going to have to keep on it.]
My cousin Mitch has arrived. I've given him a full update as to what’s going on.
Surgeon Dr. Omari has arrived to discuss the surgery with me. He says that they would do it on Tuesday if they can. I asked him about the stent process and he says that my blockage is located right between three veins so it’s a very difficult process to do, and they aren't able to do that here at St. Francis. So I would have to find another special facility to pull the stent off at this rate. I’ll discuss that with my nurses and see if Harbor could do it because I got that impression while I was there, they brought it up in the first place.
If I do heart surgery the recovery from that would take a week, then another 3-6 months of bed rest. No lifting, no driving. All of that is bad because I’m the caregiver for my wife as it is now. Hmmm.
Robin has put out a call for aid from local people in LA to help her deal with the windows and other difficulties with Hurricane Hilary baring down on Sunday.
Calling my local friends and family…
It's looking like Vyan's facing heart surgery next week. And I'm having the MS flare from hell, including spazzies (imagine a bad electric shock) various places all around my body, barely being able to stand/walk, the "MS Hug" (feels like you're getting "hugged" by some giant malevolent robot), etc .....anyway SoCal is looking at getting nailed by the @$$ end of a hurricane around Sunday...some of this stuff can wait til after the storm, but I need the windows closed (2 on the ground floor, several upstairs). Too hard for me to close, even Vyan says they're tough to slide shut. Also needed before storm hits - assistance putting old towels and stuff under the holes in the dining room and kitchen ceiling. The guys who "repaired" them did a crap job so they always leak - badly - when it rains. If anyone has superhuman abilities, they could dump a bit of clean litter over top of whatever is in that box. Again I wouldn't expect any volunteers for that specifically, and it'd just buy me time til this flare passes. Extra credit if anyone can take a phone charger cord to Vyan at the hospital before Tuesday.
I hate asking for help, but I'm up against it with this storm this weekend and my husband most likely facing major surgery on Tuesday. Pls DM me if you can help.
LA is not at all used to Hurricanes, we have no idea how damaging this could be — our buildings and infrastructure isn't designed for this. Thanks to any who can help. I’m just stuck sitting in this hospital unable to do anything.
The ECG is apparently working, it’s a remote unit that generates the display at the nurse’s station — so I can’t see it. These guys draw blood less frequently, more like 4 times a day, but they make a new hole each and every time and that’s starting to wear on me a bit. I’ve got cotton balls taped to my arms all over. They're also doing blood sugar tests on my fingertips, which hurt.
The fact that I may really have to go through the open heart procedure is starting to bear down on me, and it’s not fun or pleasant.
It’s a desperate play to try and contact the Docs back at Harbor to see if they can pull off the stenting process since it can’t be done here, yet again getting authorization to try it from Angeles IPA. My cell phone is dead again, and I haven’t yet figured out how to make a call on the room phone.
I’ll take up the cause again in the morning and try and reach out to them. Gonna just try to forget it all for the evening.
My new nurse Diana told me dialing “9” first gets me the outside line. Ok, good.
[1:30 am Saturday]
A nurse came in and gave me a long deep ultrasound scan on my neck and legs [which got a little creepy].
Another new nurse, Marshae’. They’ve given me Pepsid intravenously, plus Aspirin, Lipitor and Clobid. I’m starting to lose track of all the specific drugs, but none of it is super strong. This nurse is going to ask the Doc to discontinue those painful blood sugar tests, I don’t have any history of diabetes at all.
The cardiologist stopped by again and asked about my discussion with Dr Omari (the surgeon). I told him that he informed me that this hospital can’t perform the stent procedure because of the complexities of my blockage, but then I said “why did Harbor even bring it up to me? Is it possible they can do it?” So he’s going to take that question back to Dr. Omari. Basically though, if the answer is “No” — then I’m essentially stuck and I have to go through with open heart surgery.
I’m not crazy about that, but it's not just because it’s risky and physically uncomfortable (although there is that), it’s because I’m the caregiver for my wife and she’s home alone now without anyone. If I’m going to be here for more than another week, plus 3-6 months of recovery, who takes care of her?
She is currently contacting IHSS to potentially get another caregiver for us both, but that’s not guaranteed to happen in the next few days. If the stent can’t be done, it can’t be done — I’d just like to know that for certain.
If my only option then is open heart surgery, then that is it then, let’s do it.
My doctor — who I don’t think I’ve met yet unless it’s the cardio guy — has prescribed me Lisinopril for my blood pressure which has been a little high. Oddly, I historically have had low blood pressure so this is new and weird.
One of the primary physicians just came to see me and we went over everything I discussed with the cardiologist. She's going to let them handle the issue, but at least she's up to speed now. She's an alternate, my actual primary is Dr. Kamel who hasn't been here yet.
She told me that if I do the stent I’d have to take 3 additional medicines in addition to what I’ll have with the surgery.
I’ve tried calling Robin through the phone and Facebook, but I didn't get a response. I called our next-door neighbor to ask her to check on Robin but I had to leave a message. So that’s concerning.
Ok, It took an hour - but she responded. My stepson and his wife - who live in Glendale - came by and helped close the windows. They also brought some non-perishable food.
The cat got out, but he'll wander back in eventually if she leaves the front door open for him. Also, the storm will make him get his tail inside. He gets stressed when I’m away because I’m almost always home except for running quick errands.
While the nurse was taking my vitals I got to talking about how I felt being an Insurance prisoner here and forced by circumstances into heart surgery. My pressure spiked to 200, so she took a break and came back later. 152/82, much better. Obviously, I'm a little annoyed - but I'm trying to keep calm and relaxed as best I can.
[10:20 am Sun]
I’m watching Tropical Storm Hilary approach through the windows, I’ve got a bird’s eye view of the impending floods.
They’re still having problems with the leads on my ECG, they’re replaced them several times. They also gave me a bed bath and changed the sheets, which was helpful.
I’m having occasional pain in my right foot, and from experience that might be might gaut flaring up which is something I really don’t need right now. I told them and they said they’d get me something. Usually drinking cherry juice helps, but I doubt they have that. I often use Cherry Pepsi, which seems to work but I can’t get that right now.
Dr. Omari (Surgeon) just stopped by again. He confirmed that Harbor could do the stent procedure because they are a higher level of care than St. Francis - but my insurance won't cover me there. So I'm stuck. If I want the stent I'd have to pay for it myself out of my own pocket.
So, that's basically it then. I essentially have no choice except to do open heart surgery. He said he'd give me another day to make the final decision and bring the consent forms then. The surgery will happen on Tuesday or Wednesday based on the available schedule.