Open Heart Quadruple Bypass Surgery: Not for The Faint of Heart

Two facts stand out about my experience with open heart quadruple bypass surgery: It is incredibly invasive and painful; and those who care for you are overworked by institutional design.

On July 11, 2013 I had an appointment with my cardiologist to see how I was progressing after he had placed a stent in one the arteries of my heart.  I had had a heart attack three months earlier and I was now engaged in cardio rehab in the hope that from cardio rehab I would develop a set of good habits of eating and daily exercise.  And I felt I was making good progress. 

But, then, one very hot day, on my way from the hospital parking lot to the cardio rehab department I suddenly became short of breath and dizzy, and I felt tightness in my chest.  While waiting for the elevator I leaned on the wall for support since my legs felt a little weak.  Nobody else was around, which I appreciated, since, I guess you could say, I am a prideful man who does not like to make a spectacle of himself in public. 

I don’t know what happened, but, by the time the elevator reached the third floor I felt fine again.  So, by the time I reached cardio rehab, I had forgotten about the incident (some, like my wife, might say that I buried it deep in my psyche and piled a bunch of denial on top of it).

For some reason I remembered the incident the next day and mentioned it to my wife.  She made a big deal out of it.  So I promised her that I would tell the nurses at rehab about it and also tell the Cardiologist about it at my next appointment with him, which was coming up in the next few days.  The cardio nurses were a little concerned because they also noted that, on the same day that, while I was walking with EKG wires on, my pacemaker began pacing.  I told them I had a cardiologist appointment in a couple days and I was going t mention it to him then.  So they left it at that.

At the cardiologist’s office he explained that the results of a stress test I had taken were negative for any new clotting or stent problems.  Then I told him about the episode.  He was interested.  In fact, he asked a few more questions, excused himself for a few minutes and returned with the news that he was admitting me to the hospital right now.   My first thought was that that was a bit of an overreaction and a bit unreasonable.  But my protests fell on deaf ears. 

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