Last week I wrote about Steve going in for a pre-birthday angiogram and possibly coming home with a souvenir from his overnight stay in the hospital in the form of a stent. Or another possible scenario from the angiogram was that the cardiologist wouldn’t find enough of a blockage to warrant a stent, and Steve would be discharged the same day. He could go on his merry way. No big deal.
So on Thursday morning, when I got a call from the nurse just a couple of hours after I had dropped Steve off at the hospital telling me that I could pick him up at noon, I was all chipper, figuring that his quick discharge meant that his arteries were given the all clear sign. “He’s had dentist appointments that lasted longer than the angiogram,” I thought. “No reason for me to have worried.”
When I arrived at the hospital, Steve was dressed and sitting in a wheelchair (standard hospital procedure) chit-chatting with the cardiologist. I don’t remember the doctor’s exact words, but it was something along the lines of “there’s more work to be done.”
It turns out that the angiogram showed that Steve’s arteries look less like the Novato Narrows and a lot more like the entire Los Angeles freeway system at 5:00 on a Friday afternoon before a three day weekend. Clogs and slowdowns all over the place.
The doctor started tossing out numbers – 80 percent, 100 percent – the kind of scores you want to hear from your daughter if she is telling you how she did on a recent math test…but not so much when it’s the cardiologist talking about the percentage of blockage of in your husband’s arteries.
While I struggled to make sense of all this, I heard the doctor say that she wanted to perform quintruple triple-toe loop salchow half-pipe bypass surgery on Steve. At least that’s what I thought I heard in my stunned state of mind. Quadruple…quintuplet…anything bigger than a double and it all blends together.
“And by the way,” she added, “you might want to consider having that done REALLY soon.“
Wow, I didn’t see that coming.
All this information was delivered very casually by the doctor – as if she was giving the barista at Starbucks her order. “Sure, make it a venti bypass operation.”
However in retrospect, I can see that the doctor was actually being very kind. If she had told me to sit down because she had some “very serious news to give me,” it would have prompted panic. Instead, her almost cheery, matter-of-fact, “we do this kind of operation ALL the time” attitude kept me from freaking out as I imagined the thoracic surgeon firing up a chainsaw to cut into Steve’s chest.
We’ve had a few days to come to grips with the prospect of Steve’s surgery. Now the question is just when to do it; the recovery period is six to eight weeks and he won’t be able to drive for a month. Definitely a bummer. He’ll talk to the scheduler in the doctor’s office on Monday. In the meantime, we’ll celebrate his birthday and be thankful that we can look forward to celebrating many, many more birthdays together.