We interrupt this vacation … & Me
Posted May 13, 2011on:
Actually, my husband noted that it really should be We interrupt this vacation & he as this story is about him, not me.
“But I wouldn’t want to go against format,” Dick wisely added.
I then said I would not write this blog post unless he was comfortable with it. “No man stands against your blog,” Dick responded.
So here is the story. We had been on vacation in Washington, D.C., and New York City to visit with family and friends. Yes we had an interruption in the vacation, but over all it was a great time.
In New York City, which in my mind can only be pronounced like that cowboy does in that old Pace salsa commercial, Dick was having chest pains. He did not tell me about them until the next morning, however, when he described them as similar to what he had felt that led to his bypass surgery in 1991 and a series of angioplasty procedures with stents in the last ten years.
Dick has never had a heart attack because he has recognized the symptoms and gone in with enough time to prevent damage to his heart. He insisted he did not want to go into a New York hospital with chest pain, fearing he would get lost in the shuffle. Dick felt it was early enough in the process that he could wait until we got home – nearly a full week later. He was determined and convincing.
Dick laid low on Saturday except for going to our friends’ apartment on Saturday night by taxi for dinner. He said he was not feeling any more symptoms.
On Sunday, he took a taxi again to a couple of things that we did except for dinner when we celebrated a birthday of our friends’ daughter – another story to be told later.
I asked repeatedly if he was feeling any symptoms and he said he was not. On the train back to DC, we talked about whether he should get evaluated in Washington. He wanted to talk it over with Edie, a nurse who is the wonderful wife of my cousin Art and who dispenses wisdom as she slices cantaloupe. I said she would tell him to go in right away.
“Have you had more chest pain?” I asked.
“That’s it. You are going when we get off the train.”
I called Edie to explain the situation and ask her which hospital would be best. The answer was Washington Hospital Center, which was rated the best in the region, but mentioned another hospital that was more patient friendly.
Arthur drove us to the Washington Hospital Center, which we were told does more heart catheterizations than any other hospital in the country. A cath allows a cardiologist to see where there are blockages of the blood vessels of the heart. If there are any, the doctor uses a procedure called angioplasty that sends a balloon via a catheter through the vessel to open the blockage and sometimes implants a stent, which is like internal scaffolding within a vessel to keep it open.
It turns out, the interventional cardiologist who did the procedure has some special expertise. He is one of only two in the country who uses radiation to open stents that have become blocked. He did not have to use radiation, however. He was able to open the three vessels with angioplasty. He did implant another stent, which will bring Dick’s total to 11 or 12 – we are not sure on the exact number but know we would have to take off our socks to use our toes for the count.
Incidentally, Edie’s assessment of the hospital was correct. He received great care “in anything that matters” but the hospital was not so patient friendly. It needs some systems in place, which I am suggesting in a letter that I wrote Wednesday.
Most important, everything went fine. Dick was out of the hospital on Wednesday and we started our drive home on Thursday, arriving Friday.
Dick is feeling better and expects to play music at a gig Sunday. Getting more oxygen to his heart is a wonder, as does playing music anywhere and everywhere he can.