*UPDATE: Grandpa made it through the surgery just great!  The doctor said that his heart was really a mess so it will take quite awhile for him to recover, but he also said that he will feel much, much better soon.  I am so thankful!*

Today my grandpa has open heart surgery to repair (or replace?) an incredibly leaky mitral valve and to unplug an artery that is 90% blocked.  I know I should probably be incredibly anxious about this day, but the truth is, it’s taken so long to get here, and I’m so relieved that it’s finally going to happen, that I feel more relief than anxiety.  I suppose I should be thankful for the peace rather than trying to analyze it so much that I become anxious, huh.

The events leading up to today’s surgery day are a little convoluted.  When my grandpa was at the VA hospital several weeks ago, he came home and still felt horrible.  He would lose his breath when talking, had absolutely no energy, and felt a lot of uncomfortable, crushing chest pressure.  He also felt a lot of burning when going to the bathroom (I’m sure he would love me sharing this), but he was told that this can happen after being catheterized (which he was while he was in ICU).  It just got worse and worse, though, so the day after Thanksgiving he went back to the VA ER, and the doctor there, after doing a blood test, was livid that he had been released.  She said that with his symptoms they should have run a test to check for infection, which they did not.  Therefore, not only did he have a UTI, but the infection had also spread into his blood.  He was sent home with an antibiotic.  These details are significant because yesterday when the cardiologist at KU checked his records from the VA, they indicated that he had been sent home with the antibiotic, which is absolutely not true.  Someone is trying to keep him or herself from getting into trouble.  Grrrrr…..  The cardiologist also couldn’t figure out why he had not been sent in for an artery repair…years ago.  My grandpa’s leaky valve has been paraded in front of so many residents both at the VA and KU, who are told that they will probably never hear such a leak again in their lives, that it’s apparently a wonder any of his blood is getting where it’s supposed to go.  Which is precisely the problem, I suppose.  Much of the blood is not getting where it’s supposed to go.

Anyway, when Grandpa left the VA he was told that within two weeks he would get a letter in the mail with a date for a heart catherization as well as a surgery date to replace his valve.  He got no such letter, and he practically began to waste away with pain and despair (he weighs less than I do now).  Finally, on Monday morning, he was so uncomfortable that he went back to the VA, where they admitted him again.  That night, they transferred him over to KU.

Thank God.  Literally.  I think the VA hospital was trying to kill him.

The cardiologist just cannot figure out why he was released from the hospital in the first place.  He should have been transferred directly from the VA to KU, especially since he had been having such chest pressure. He really needed to have the heart catherization to see if the chest pressure was caused by blockage.  Yesterday’s heart catherization revealed that he did, indeed, have a 90% blockage in an artery.  Wouldn’t you think that they would have immediately wanted to check on if his arteries were blocked rather than assuming…whatever it was they were assuming?  It just makes me so angry!  Can you sue the VA?  Probably not…..  Really, though, the VA hospitals should be the best of the best, and they just seem, instead, to be haphhazard, outdated holding places to corral our veterans until they die.  That is just…wrong.  Unjust.  Absolutely ludicrous.  I’m very happy that he is now at KU.  They have one of the best heart hospitals in the nation.  I feel like his heart is in good hands.

And today I have to give up his heart both to the hands of his doctors and to the One who holds his heart in the palm of His hand.  The past two mornings I have woken up with these lyrics singing in my head:

But a certain sign of grace is this
From the broken earth
Flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt.

Today we need some grace…and as many prayers, positive thoughts, and well wishes as you can muster.

3 thoughts on “surgery day

  1. kelly says:

    Oh Jill, I am sorry for you grandfather’s health woes. I WILL be praying today. I am glad to know that KU Med has improved its health system. JD’s dad had his cancer surgery there 18 years ago . . .and it was terrible!

  2. frenchgirl says:

    We’ll be thinking of him today.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Jill. I just saw the Update at the top of your post! YAY. So, so, so thankful and happy for you…all of you.
    PS. let’s get together over the Christmas break. Syd’s dyin’ for some Am time.

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