Blogging and Praying that I never forget these days . . . .

Heart Surgery & CV ICU

September 5, 2012
 
On Wednesday we had our alarm set for 4am so that we could be at the hospital by 5:30am.  As usual I woke up before the alarm and was actually out of the shower before it went off for Jay.  We packed our last few things in the suitcase and then took a few minutes to breathe standing in our kitchen.  I was all in tiz over my living will being correct.  I guess I had to focus on one worry that morning and stay on it.  I think I had Jay read and re-read the papers a dozen times.  I was so scared I was accidentally making myself a DNR or do not resuscitate.  I wanted my intentions to be clear in case something horrible happened, but I was so nervous I had misread or missigned something.  The week before Jay and I had discussed and talked to a lawyer friend about writing our real wills, POAs, and intent for our children in case of tragedy.  Jay never made the appointment after I gently reminded and asked him several times.  Finally I dropped the subject with him.  I think it was just too much for him to handle.  All our emotions were on overload and the thought of writing all that out was just over the top. Trying to be responsible I took the hospital's papers for appointing a surrogate for health care and my living will.  I think that is where my anxiety came from with the papers.  I had to read them and fill them out alone with no one counseling me.  I was torn up on surgery morning as I signed the last spots.  I even had the registration guy and my pre op nurses make sure I did it right.  I kept telling them what I wanted and didn't want.  Finally one of the girls laughed and said, " it is all right Jessica, we understand, it is okay."  At that point I let go if it and moved on to other worries. 
 
As we left the culdesac at about 4:45am we honked a long good bye to all our wonderful friends.  Jay and I spent much of the time on the drive quiet.  It was hard to talk without crying and becoming a hot mess.  We concentrated on our christian radio station, held hands, and sang.  I think I cried the entire way there while Jay did his best to be strong for me.  As we pulled into the parking garage one of my favorite songs came on and before we lost the signal I heard my prayer. If you haven't heard it or don't usually listen to Christian radio, please look it up and listen to it.  It is so beautiful.
 
Matt Redman
10,000 Reasons
 
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

[Chorus]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

[Chorus]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

[Chorus x2]
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
Lord, I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name
---
  Once parked, Jay and I tried to pull ourselves together for the upcoming day.  Then we held each other and headed into the Heart and Vascular Center.  The guy at registration welcomed us again.  He had taken care of us on all our visits so far.  It was pleasant to see him that morning. He arm banded me and sent us to the waiting room until my preop nurse was ready. 
 
 While we were waiting on the preop nurse I decided to pause for a photo opportunity.  If you know me, then you know I always have my camera (even before camera phones).  I have a picture for everything.  I made Jay promise to take pictures good and bad for me to see once I was healed.  This was the first photos of the day.  Super woman ready to get on to the healing process!  I also took a photo of my official arm bands with my heart prayer bracelet.  I let this picture and some lyrics from the above song serve as my Facebook status on surgery morning.
 After what felt like an eternity (5 min) the preop nurse came to get me.  She introduced herself as a friend of one my co-worker friends and I got a sense of relief.  She instructed Jay to stay in the waiting room and that she would be back for him in just a few minutes.  At that moment my superwoman smile was gone and I cried like a baby.  He hugged me, kissed my forehead, and told me he would see me in just a minute.  The nurse and I headed back to a preop room.  She instructed me to change, do another scrub of my body, and get in the bed.  I focused and did the tasks at hand.  I was impressed to do another scrub.  It was my third of the morning.  I used some hibiclens in the shower and choraprep wipes before I got dressed at home.  I was one clean lady!  Once in the bed, the preop nurse came in and we went through some questions, signed my consents, and hooked me to the monitor.  Then she went and got Jay . . . thank goodness . . . I needed him there, just close to me, and to hold my hand.  He made fun of me playing on Facebook and we enjoyed some nerve driven laughs.

 Next up was the anesthesia team as they started my lines.  The anesthesia doc came in and we talked about what all they were going to do and the CRNAs started my peripheral IV.  I am never a hard stick, but this morning I was very difficult.  The CRNA that had worked with me on my TEE appointment had to stick me several times.  The student CRNA (whom had just finished her rotation at my hospital) passed on the chance to try and stick me. The anesthesia doc was looking on my right arm when the CRNA got it in my left arm.  Whew!  Thank goodness.  Once that was in and running the CRNA got ready to place my A-line and my central line.  Shortly after she pushed the drugs into my line . . . I go blank for what felt like a blink.  Next thing I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit.  Jay says the day felt forever long.  The anesthesia team had Jay go to the waiting room while they started my other IV lines.  He told me they came to get him once they were in and this is what I looked like when he returned.  I am awake in this picture, but I do not remember it or Jay leaving and coming back to me.  They gave him just a moment with me to kiss and then they took me to the operating room.  Sadly I don't recall that kiss. 
 
My details while I was in surgery are sketchy.  I have done my best to string the story together from every one's details.   From what I have been told and read, Jay did an amazing job keeping everyone updated during surgery.  My surgery was scheduled to start at 8am and it seems from his first messages that it started on time.  Prior to surgery day I made different groups on my phone and labeled them for him to send updates.  He also kept my Facebook status up to date with what he knew about how the surgery was going.  Everyone has complimented him on what a great job he did with all the information sharing.  I think it stressed him, but I am so thankful he did it.  We had people from all facets of our lives praying for us.  I feel that it was our (his) duty to let them know what was going on during surgery.  I am forever thankful that he did all this and more.
 
Jay told me that the waiting room was full of our friends and family.  He was very thankful to have such a great support group during this scary time.  It is kind of funny when he talks about being in the waiting room and who was there because every time he tells a story he mentions someone else.  I didn't see anyone but Jay that morning so each person is a surprise to me.  He will look at me like, "Yeah, they were there, don't you remember."  Then he realizes that I didn't see anyone and he will try to list all our visitors.  We are so loved.  Once surgery was complete Jay and both sets of our parents talked to Dr. Drinkwater.  He told them that everything went as planned and that we was able to do the princess cut incision under my right breast.  Dr. Drinkwater also told them how impressed he was with my heart.  He stated that as he sewed the last part of the patch my heart changed shape.  My cardiologist called Jay after he had talked to Dr. Drinkwater and explained this to him,  He said that the enlargement wasn't from muscles working too hard as everyone had thought.  Apparently it was ballooned out or aneurysm due to the increased amount of blood flow and pressure.  Once that pressure was equalized with the patch the heart returned to normal shape.  God is amazing!  Dr. Drinkwater then let them see me in the intensive care unit.  I will spare you the pictures of me on the ventilator.  They are pretty gut wrenching for even me to see, but Jay carried out his promise like he always does, and took the pictures for me.  Our parents and Jay got to spend a few minutes with me and then they were lead back to the waiting room. 

I only remember a collective few moments during my stay in the intensive care unit.  My first image is of my Nurse Brandon and his mean suction stuck down my throat.  When he first tried to wake me up I immediately started grabbed at the ventilator tube and sat up in the bed.  He promptly grabbed me by the shoulders laid me back down and knocked me back out (with meds of course).  So the lights went back out and the memory ends.  Thank you, Brandon, and I'm so sorry for being such a rowdy patient, but remember I am a nurse and that is the only way we come when we are the patients.  I was blessed with the best nurse in the unit that day. It felt like every time I opened my eyes he was right there in my face taking care of me. He calmed me, kept me from being scared, and talked me through everything.  It also wasn't so bad that he happened to be a cutie and sounded just like Matthew McConaughey.  If you have talked to me since surgery, I am sure I have told you about my nurse.

At the 5:00pm visiting time, my awesome ICU nurse let everyone in to see me.  I had prepared them all that they might not get to see me until I moved to the step down unit.  Much to our surprise, my Nurse Brandon let them all come in for a few minutes. I remember a tiny clip of this moment.    I still see everyone standing around my bed and coming in and out of the door.  I attempted to talk, but had basically no voice due to the irritation from the tube.  As you can see from the picture, I was off the ventilator by this time.  I remember being so thirsty and begging Brandon for a Cherry Coke.  He finally agreed to ice chips.  I was mad, but he was doing his job as my nurse to protect me from vomiting.  It sounds like I was rather aggressive and bossy while in the unit.  Sorry. I guess that is why Brandon kept turning off the lights with meds and putting me back to sleep.  I read in one of Jay's messages that I was myself because I rolled my eyes at him and I have a picture of my tongue sticking out at him.  Just to think all that he had been through that day and that was my reply.  Have I ever told you how much I love him?

At this point in the day I didn't feel good at all. My chest felt all crazy every time I tried to move. I remember describing it to Brandon as a horse galloping in my chest.  Then I listened to him talk to someone and use all kinds of medical jargon.  Of course that woke up my nurse brain and got me all worked up again.  He came in with more meds and told me that I had pericarditis or inflammation from the surgery and my rowdiness show.  We chatted (no telling what I said) and he calmed me again and I think I fell asleep.  Before Brandon left that evening I gave him my last plea for something to drink.  We made an agreement that he could give me ice if I would only eat one every fifteen minutes.  I would have promised him the world; so we agreed and he brought them to me.  He told me that if I got sick in the night and he heard about it the next morning I was going to be in trouble.  Then he surprised me with a Sprite to sip on through out the night.  I had to promise that I wouldn't not drink it all and that some would still be in the cup when he come back. I will never again delay in taking my patients a drink following surgery.  The thirst after surgery is just about unbearable. Well, the nursing shifts changed and a nurse that was helping my night nurse Kori came in to check on me.  She saw the gifts of ice and Sprite that Brandon had left me.  She made a fuss and threw them all in the trash can.  I about had another fit.  She had no idea what I had to do to get those drinks.  Lol.  Oh well, I tried to let it go.  She was looking out for me because no one (including me) wanted me to wretch or vomit.  As I found out later, that really hurts with a chest incision.  My beautiful Nurse Kori took great care of me that night.  She let me sleep, but was constantly checking on me and making sure I was okay.  She was there for the second visiting time of 8:30pm.  By this time everyone had gone home except Jay, my brother Josh, and sister in law Holly.  I remember a snippet of them being there in the chair by my bed.  We talked briefly and then I guess I went back to sleep because my memory fades to black.  Jay told me that Kori let him stay with me past the visiting time.  I think I remember him sitting holding my hand.  I can remember the calmness God gave me at this time.  Surgery was over, the ventilator gone, I was awake, and Jay was back at my side.  Thankful.  So Thankful for his mercy.


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