Steph Fast Asleep, I Soon Hope to Be

Pat is headed back to Columbus, with a midnight ETA, I am settling into Room 107, my studio apartment at the Cleveland Sight Center–home sweet home for the next week, I think.  Steph is in a substance-induced and -maintained very deep sleep in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit on the fifth floor of the Clinic’s G Building.

Pat and I met with Dr. Lytle early this evening.  At 4:30, I left the Clinic to check into my room here at the Sight Center.  I left Pat my hospital pager, and told him I’d be right back as soon as I checked into my room.  (I wanted to make sure the resident manager was there, and that he and I didn’t end up playing voice mail tag all evening.)

I had just crossed Chester Ave. to the Sight Center at E. 101st when Pat texted me that Dr. Lytle wanted to see me.  I dreaded hearing this, since Steph was supposed to be in surgery for another 4-6 hours.  Nonetheless, I hurried through checking in, got the key to my room, and then doubled back to the clinic.

Pat and I waited for over two hours before we saw Dr. Lytle.  The news was good.  Steph had gone through the surgery and was heavily sedated, intubated, and breathing with the aid of equipment in Cardiothoracic ICU.  He had removed the scarring that had been causing the stenosis, and he had replaced the heart valve with an artificial one.  (As it turned out, the scarring had no bearing on the condition of the valve.  The valve was shot, and had to be replaced, scarring or no scarring.)  There was some problem intubating and initially readying Steph for the procedure–mainly because of her size.

After about 45 minutes,Pat and I went to see Steph.  She was sedated, and the nurse suggested I not try to communicate or awaken her.  I went over to the bed, and I could barely see Steph under the crisscross of tubes, cords, and hoses.  There were oscilloscopes and monitors beeping and drawing spiky multicolored lines on screens, and I had to get up close and look over the pillow before I was sure I was visiting the right person.  She will be out of it until at least mid-morning, and it will be at least then before they consider letting her breathe on her own.  Blood pressure, heart rate, and all other vital signs were what they should be.  We left after about five minutes.

To mark the occasion, Pat and I feted ourselves at the Chicago Deli–the first non-hospital food we’ve had all day.  He drove me back here to the room and ordered me to get some sleep and lay off caffeine for the rest of the night.

I will take his advice after I mass-mail some people whose inquiring minds want to know.  The Wi-Fi here is better than it was the first time we stayed here, but Gmail seems to be acting erratically.  I’ll bring this blog entry to a close with relief and gratitude at the outcome of today’s procedure. 

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High Marks for The Cleveland Clinic

I would have been online and posting sooner, but the Internet connection and router here at the Sight Center is spotty, so I’m seizing the moment.  (That is why this entry may not be spelled all correctly–the connection is a bit jerky, and I’m typing so fast that I’m like the skilled Linotypers of old–they often had to stop and let the machine catch up to them.)

We’ve completed the round of doctor visits and lab tests for today.  Steph and I meet with Dr. Lytle, the actual knife-wielder, tomorrow afternoon.  The physician we did meet, Dr. Brian Griffin,(pictured–sorry, too good to resist!), was a 60ish guy with an Irish accent, and he took all the time we needed to answer questions, compile medical history, etc.  It was much better than the doctors at Riverside who spoke with us for 5-10 minutes with their eyes on their watches the entire time.

The news is a mixed bag.  Steph’s heart situation is much more serious than the Riverside doctors led us to believe.  Dr. Griffin said that it is not realistic to think the valve can be salvaged.  (I came away from the April hospitalization pretty sure that the valve was toast, but the doctors held out hope that it was saveable.)  Aside from replacing the valve (either with a mechanical or human valve–they won’t even make the determination until they have Steph cut open!), there is muscle building up and hardening around the valve, and there will also be a membrane resection.

Paradoxically, even though there is much more wrong than we were led to believe, we feel much better about Steph’s chances of recovery because of the good feeling we have working with this surgical staff.  We were immediately at ease when we heard that we were the second of Dr. Griffin’s two appointments today, so he wasn’t in a rush-rush-rush mode.  We were ahead of schedule on all of her tests, and they decided one could be skipped.

Deja vu–If you go back to my blog at the time of Steph’s April hospitalization, I mentioned watching Rachael Ray’s show in the waiting room, where she went lingerie-shopping with two men who were buying for their wives.  That same one was running today!