Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Longest Six

Who would have thought that six hours would be that long? It was bladder blasting. It was the longest prayer time of some worried souls inside the family waiting room... It was simply agonizing.

Five patients at the operating room at one time, five worrisome families waiting for some news, silent, crying. One could hear the chaos at EDSA from nearly a mile away. The silence is just deafening. Phones vibrate. Friends and families' SMSs waiting for some news too... a welcome relief sometimes of the tensions building inside ones chest.

Ella and myself left home at 3:55 in the morning for an hour's trip to the Philippine Heart Center. We just want to be at the hospital suite before Mang Boy is taken to the operating room. Funny though, the first time I saw Ella so much religious and prayerful the past few weeks. She downloaded a rosary prayer app from the appstore and started praying with it while we were on the road. I'm no catholic but I understand. One should be in reconciliation with the Creator especially in times like these. One must have the bestest, most sincere prayer for some time and it was very beautiful.

Mang boy was already prepared for the operation when we arrived. He was already connected to two IV lines. The medication nurse was explaining to him about all those meds and pain relievers and sedatives that were to be administered to him and all. Mang boy looked tired. He didn't sleep that night, felt some butterflies in his tummy and told me he was really scared while he was being stretchered down to the OR. Mang Boy is one tough guy but it surely looked like he felt helpless yesterday. One damn helpless person indeed. I would strike a joke. He would strike back one. Just like the day before yeah. He would speak english to me full of "you knows..." The nurses would laugh at him especially when he joked about mama being fat... I signed some papers and let him go, really hoping and praying for the best. It was 7:00 AM. As I went out of the OR receiving room, I saw a little girl waiting for her turn to be received. Chills you know... What have she done to deserve an operation like that... chest to be opened, heart to be repaired and all. Later I found out that the girl's pacemaker had to be replaced after nine years. 

Soon other patients came in... some even babies. It was an aweful feeling really. Why the babies?

At the waiting room, I saw Ella and my mother-in-law reading their novenas. The other lady praying the rosary. A couple of guys who came in earlier were reading newspapers and a couple in front of us holding each other's hands... I guess they were comforting each other in silence. The room was so damn cold. Perhaps helping the mind to concentrate on the praying...

Came the news. Ella was called to the surgery waiting room and was told that Mang Boy's surgery was a success. Four and a half hours on the table, an hour and a half more than the scheduled three hours. Ella was told that they found scars around his heart, signs that he had multiple silent heart attacks before. The aorta is safe... for now. One tough heart in one tough guy. It was around 12:30. Ella's bladder was already filled but she didn't want to let it drained.

Mang Boy was out fo the OR at around 1:00 in the afternoon. It was a very relieving feeling. We made it to 50% of the process. He had to recover and must be awake by 6:00 in the evening. One surgery down, one more to go within the next seven days.

Ours is a good news... The other family was not a good one. We prayed for the best. They prayed too. Just sad that some soul's hopes are to be shattered in vain. Imagine the wait. Imagine the time spent. Imagine every single pain inside. Imagine everything. It could have been ours. The disappointment could have been to somebody elses... God must have some reasons. We wouldn't know. But I'm sure God is a comforting God. I'm sure. Life has to move on. Life has to go on. 

There are a lot of realizations these past few weeks. Spiritually uplifting, eye-opening experience. And truly during these stressful and agonizing days, we meet some new acquantances that cheer us up, new friends, we know more of the friendships we have made, some are real friends and some are just not good enough.

"When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better." 
– Malcolm S Forbes

Friday, November 29, 2013

Looking forward

Today must be a good day, yeah! Mang Boy is now being prepped for the CABG, shaved and lined. Still, we can't help but think still about the risks the doctors told us yesterday. His case is quite different from the others and risks must be managed really well. We were also told that the surgery must be finished within three hours. He must be extubulated within 48 hours and must recover fast for the TEVAR aneurysm repair within the next ten days.

Everything now is at the hands of the surgical team. God bless them.

I pray that he will get through this first stage without a glitch. I pray that his aorta will not act out and his other organs stay cool and dandy, yeah!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mang Boy and our hopeful hearts

Two weeks. This is how long we have been in two hospitals. Not counting the previous hospital stays these past few months. But no, it's not about me... it's my father-in-law, Mang Boy. The most awesome father-in-law one could ever have and I consider myself so much luckier than most for having him as my in-law.

He had heart attacks, three times this year. Once last year. He was advised by our cardiologist to undergo angiogram since two years back, but he opted not to. He felt that his illness was not very concerning and the mindset of "if-it's-my-time-then-so-be-it", he would simply shrug off all of our suggestions. He would continue smoking. Three packs a day that is for the past 53 years. For that long, he considered smoking as his ultimate happiness.

Last June, he had his first COPD induced heart attack. We thought that was it but the man is a fighter and he survived after three days intubated in the ICU. Last October, he was rushed again for another round of COPD induced heart attack, twice in the span of five days. The second attack was quite fortunate because it happened a day after he went out of the ICU. These events prompted him to take his illness seriously. He agreed for an angiogram and a possible angioplasty.

We took him to Manila Doctors Hospital last week for the operation. The result was not really favorable that he is suggested to have a heart bypass (or CABG) instead as soon as possible. His Left Anterior Descending (LAD) is totally occluded and the others are blocked by more that 50%, the reason why his heart fails when his lungs are weak. As he was prepared for the heart bypass, my wife suddenly had a hunch about the hospital. Of course, MaDocs as it is, we cannot say that the hospital is not capable of taking care of Mang Boy and considering the credentials of the cardiologist and the thoracic surgeon, he must be in good hands. But then, her instincts led us to talk to some friends, to our doctor friends and finally we took the matter to our family cardiologist, Dr. JD Foronda. He then referred us to Dr. Pio Purino at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC).

We took him there last Monday, 25 November. Man, the hospital is impressive! The buildings maybe old but the system here and the facility are all high tech. Anyway, he had to be rechecked all over again superceding some tests done on him at MaDocs, including X-ray and 2D Echo and voila!!! His surgeons decided to defer the bypass until they can confirm what the radiologist interpreted on X-ray... aneurysm at the aorta. He had to undergo CT Aortigram last night and yes it is confirmed. This left us wondering how come the aneurysm was not detected in his previous x-rays in three different hospitals the past two years! His 2D Echo result here also canceled out MaDocs interpretation of 55% EF. PHC interprets it as 38%! 

The surgical team talked to us this morning. They were frank and straightforward. They explained to us the extent of the aneurysm and the risks of the surgery and all. At the end of it all, we still have to go on with the bypass, triple bypass that is, and the intervention of the aorta as soon as he is fit enough... and it should be done within seven to ten days after the bypass surgery. The consolation for us right now is that Mang Boy has a good chance of going through. The intervention of the aorta is not going to be surgical but instead the thing they call TEVAR. Less invasive, the better, but still there is a risk of giving so much stress to his kidneys. But that is not the concern right now, at least.

So tomorrow is the big day. Mang Boy will have his heart bypass. Hoping and praying hard for the best. Surely he will get through this. He is more motivated now than before and this is a very good sign. He wants to see his grandkids grow up, he told us.

So why did the other hospitals missed the aneurysm? Well, Dr. Purino told us last monday, "There is only one Philipine Heart Center." Of course, they are no gods but surely they will do whatever is best for their patients.

We would like to thank the family and friends who prayed with us in these trying times. To family and friends who took their time off just to give a part of their own for Mang Boy. You guys are awesome! Surely, your efforts will not go in vain. God bless you guys!

And please guys... SMOKING is really not good for you and for the people around you. It's not too late to STOP yeah!

CABG information here... Viewer discretion is advised.
TEVAR information here...
Philippine Heart Center information here...