Heart Surgery

What follows is a post that my amazing wife Jessica wrote on her blog several weeks ago….you can find it here.

She had a procedure on her heart a little more than a month ago and I won’t lie to ya…I was more than a little concerned. We had planned on her taking it easy from a recovery standpoint but she is determined not to let heart issues keep her down.

She has been a runner her whole life so, knowing my wife, it is not surprising to me that she is already back to running and working out. I ran with her for 30 minutes yesterday and she was the one pushing me up the  hills.

I looked back at her blog just to remind myself of where we were a little more than a month ago. God is good.

I just wanted to repost her blog here on my own blog so that everyone was in the loop on what’s going on.

I think she is an awesome writer so..enjoy 🙂


Yesterday, as many of you know, I was admitted to Rex for a routine heart procedure. The procedure I had was called a cardiac ablation. I got to the hospital at 7:30 and waited for quite a while before I was actually taken back into the operating room. I guess waiting is typical when you go to the hospital.

First, we waited to check in with someone about insurance. That wait felt like an eternity, but it was probably only about 15-20 minutes. Once I met with the insurance guy, things moved quickly, for about an hour. I changed out of my clothes, they checked my vitals, drew some blood, and gave me an IV. Then we waited some more. I bet we waited once all of that was done for about 1.5 hours. Me and Patrick were both getting anxious. When you go back to the prep area, you’ve got a bed, a TV, and a chair. I had an IV hooked into me so I wasn’t doing much moving around. And I could only handle so much Sports Center. I started joking with the nurses that it wasn’t fair that patients that got there after me were heading in for their procedures before me. It was totally my turn! Of course there was nothing they could do. We all had to wait.

At about 10:40, they came to get me and rolled me into the “heart lab.” As soon as I got back there, I immediately got up and walked out to go to the bathroom. They weren’t going to give me a catheter, so I needed to go one more time. And of course my nerves were getting the best of me by this point.

Once I was back there for good, the very first thing I noticed was how cold it was! I had been hot all morning, but the minute I got back there I had goosebumps all over. There were three great nurses prepping me that immediately covered me with warm blankets. That was the best! They worked so hard to make me feel comfortable and were so encouraging. I felt so relaxed, even though I knew surgery was imminent by this point.

I asked a billion questions to keep my mind off of the surgery. I also looked around the room while they were prepping me to familiarize myself with everything. There were huge EKG machines, a big computer hanging over the bed, and sinks and counter tops on both sides of the bed about 15 feet away. There was also an observation room where my doctor hung out until the nurses told him I was ready.

The first thing the nurses did to prep me was stick a bunch of electrodes all over me. There were about 30 that stuck on my front and back. They joked that they didn’t have enough real estate to stick them to. Some were huge and some were tiny. Somehow they managed to make them all fit. Once they were stuck to me, they all showed up on that big computer screen I mentioned.

Once I was hooked up to all of the machines, they prepped my neck and both groins for surgery. At this point, I was also getting medication to make me sleepy. I was dozing in and out, but every time I heard a new noise, I’d open my eyes to see what was going on. When they told me I’d be awake, I didn’t really believe them, but I was. I woke up throughout the procedure and listened to what they were doing. I had 4 different wires going into veins in my body. I had one in my neck, one in my left leg, and two in my right leg. I didn’t feel them get the ones in my legs ready, but for some reason, my neck was really bothering me. Anytime I was in pain or was feeling discomfort, they would give me more medicine. I remember talking to a nurse at one point during the procedure asking for more medicine because I could feel Dr. Shah working in the neck catheter.

The part of the surgery I felt the most was when Dr. Shah was speeding up my heart to try to separate the two sacks of my heart from my lung. I didn’t know this before my surgery, but your heart actually has an outer sac and an inner sac. Weird! He was trying to separate all of this because I had a group of cells sitting on the outside of my heart, near a nerve running in between my heart and my lung. This was one of the things he was hoping to burn during the surgery so my heart rate would go back to normal. Unfortunately, this made the surgery too risky. Burning those cells would’ve caused my recovery to take years, instead of weeks. Having to wait for a nerve to regenerate doesn’t sound too fun, so I was thankful he made this call. Anyway, my body was moving all over the table because he was upping the amount of adrenaline and caffeine he was putting into my body. He told me after the surgery that at this point during the procedure I was moaning, so he knew my body was having trouble dealing with the trauma. I remember him doing this twice…and the second time I remember asking the nurse for more meds. I didn’t like that feeling. Again, I was amazed that I was awake and able to communicate with my doctor and nurses. I’m still blown away that I had surgery yesterday and I was discharged from the hospital at noon today. Thankful!

my dinner came, i took a bite, then napped before i could eat the rest.

my dinner came, i took a bite, then napped before i could eat the rest.

All in all, the doctors were very pleased with the procedure. Here’s what Dr. Shah relayed to my husband post-op. Patrick sent this in an email to friends after the surgery.

“Jess’ situation was REALLY complex. He had never seen anything quite like it. She basically had two problem spots in her heart. One of those problem spots was causing the VAST VAST majority of the rapid heart rate and discomfort. However that particular spot was pretty easily fixed. So they the doctor burned that spot and it shouldn’t be a problem ever again. The SECOND problem spot (which is causing a small part of the problem) was NOT able to fixed due to its proximity to a nerve on Jess’ lung. So that spot will continue to act up. So, all of that means that the vast majority of the problems should be taken care off. The doc said that she will occasionally have something akin to a heart flutter but that it shouldn’t last long and shouldn’t be nearly as uncomfortable as what she has been dealing with for the last 6 months or so.”

drawing Dr. Shah made for my family to help them understand the procedure

drawing Dr. Shah made for my family to help them understand the procedure

Of course my situation would be complex. Nothing with me is ever simple. I’m hopeful about the outcome. I still have to wait a couple weeks to see how things take. My heart has gotten into a routine and has to work to get out of it. Expecting to feel 100% at this point is silly. I will be taking one medication to help regulate the beat and another, as needed, to eliminate flutters and palpitations. I have an appointment with Dr. Shah in 6 weeks so he can check on things and see how I’m doing. God is good and I know He will use this situation to further his kingdom. I’m thankful for all of you, for your prayers, and for your words of encouragement.

last night, 2 hours after surgery. i was beat!

last night, 2 hours after surgery. i was beat!

Take care of your heart, my friends. It’s the only one you got!



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