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Warning: Long post about my trip to Cleveland Clinic. - Walleye Message Central
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:34 PM
Derwood Derwood is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Default Warning: Long post about my trip to Cleveland Clinic.

No offense taken if you open it, your jaw drops and you close it lol. I have to keep busy while not over exerting myself.

I had surgery on Nov 5th to repair a Mitral Valve (Barlow) in my heart. Here is my story:

We drove down to Cleveland on Sunday Nov 1st and got settle into our Hotel which was an ‘on campus’ Holiday Inn two blocks from the Hospital where everything was to be performed.

On Monday Nov 2nd, I had a lot of tests and appointments that had all been set up in succession so they flowed from one to the next, to the next, etc. The entire staff working on me, always knew where I was going next, and were able to direct me. On that day, I got there at 6am to start lab work (Ekg, CAT Scan with dye, x-rays, blood work, etc.). I also got my Covid test that afternoon, and was back at the hotel by about 3:30pm. That was a very long day. My wife stayed in the hotel that day and worked (they didn’t want her there that day anyway).

Tuesday the 3rd, I had an Angio to make sure nothing else was wrong. They prepared me for both the groin and the wrist entry, and it was a game time decision to go through my wrist. It was a pain to get my puncture area to stop bleeding after, but eventually that stuff was done and I was back at hotel by 3pm. Another long day.

Wednesday the 4th we met with the Doctor to discuss the procedure. He presented all the benefits for a chest crack vs a robotic approach. He also showed me all of my test results and how they impacted my particular issue. In the end, I opted for the robotic procedure. This was a tough decision. I was hoping the Dr would recommend one or the other. But he said there truly wasn't a better choice.

Robotic: there would be more severe pain early on, but it would dissipate quicker, and I’d be myself again, much sooner. They could still perform a partial Maze on my heart to help curtail my other issue of Afib, but because it was robotic, the success rate would only be about 70% because they couldn’t Maze the entire thing. The other downside of the robotic was they could not remove the left atrial appendage (which is where blood can pool/collect, thus increasing one’s risk of stroke if they go into Afib).

Chest Crack: More stable operation, and is just like it sounds, a zipper down the middle of your chest (I picture Clark Griswald’s turkey in Xmas Vacation lol). They said the pain would not be quite as bad, but it would last much longer. They would be able to do a full Maze, with an increased success rate of about 80%, and would also be able to remove the atrial appendage. I’d be limited in what I could do for a few weeks longer, but I’d be in less pain for that time period. For example, I can drive right now, today, if I’m not on pain meds with the robotic. With the chest crack, no driving for 6 weeks regardless.

In the end, I didn’t feel like the juice was worth the squeeze with the chest crack. The Maze was only an additional 10% increase. And, if the Maze worked in either case, having that appendage wouldn’t matter because I wouldn’t be having afib. I didn’t care about the differences cosmetically (I’m a trophy husband no matter what, right? haha)

Thursday the 5th I arrived at 5AM for the procedure, and I was in the ICU by 12:30PM. Surgery was a complete success in terms of the repair (this is huge because a repair meant I didn’t need a mechanical valve, or Coumiden therapy the rest of my life).

My time in the ICU was tough. I didn’t realize I’d have to lay there, awake, with breathing tubes down my throat, for 2 hours! It was a long two hours. I didn’t realize that the next day, I’d have a drainage tube removed from my side/back while I was awake. I stressed about that, but it really wasn’t too bad. I didn’t realize I’d have an IV in my jugular for 2 days. That was freaky. I just assumed that my pain pump would work a LOT better than it did lol. It didn’t curtail my pain so well, and it was making nauseous. I got off the pain pump early because I didn’t think I would be able to handle pain of vomiting.

When I hear “Cleveland Clinic” I think “the best of the best, in all positions, all throughout the clinic.” I think surgically, they certainly knocked it out of the park. My Dr. is rated number 1 in the country at repairing this type of regurgitation, and he lived up to his reputation on me. Wednesday in our consultation, he said he was 98-99% sure he could fix it (the folks in Milwaukee were 80% sure they could fix it) and he was right – that was where I needed them to be awesome, and they were.

All of the other help was solid, too. Nothing over the top, but certainly adequate and acceptable. I had two nurses (1 in the ICU on third shift, and one in ‘Step Down’) who were obviously pretty new at what they were doing. Both were able to gain experience working on me, and nobody really messed up all that bad, but it did add to my anxiety. Like one time the dude in step down took my temp under my tongue, and forgot to put that little baggy thing on the probe – I said, “Hey Jason, that’s not the same thermometer you use rectally is it?” (There were dozens of little things like that happened between my time in the ICU unit, and my arrival back at the hotel). That wasn't that big of a deal, I guess I just built it up in my mind that every one doing every job at the CC was THE best at that particular job. Unrealistic on my part I think.

By Monday morning Nov 9th, I had started my discharge procedures. I was feeling pretty decent, and making quantum leaps every few hours in terms of improving. By 1pm, I was back at the hotel. I spent a lot of time walking around outside the campus, made some calls to co-workers, friends and family, and continued to improve almost hourly.

Tuesday Nov 10th I had one more set of labs at 7:15AM, and then a “post-surgery visit” with a PA at 8am. We were on the road back to Wisconsin by 9:45. Travel was superb. Smooth roads. Awesome weather in the 70’s. Mama really loved driving my new Tundra, especially with the back window down. Truly it was an awesome ride home. Walked in the door at 4PM

I need to find something special to do for my wife. She was unbelievable through everything. I hate being a burden (to anyone) and I knew this would be a huge thing. She never batted an eye, anywhere throughout the process. I always knew she was rock solid in so many ways, and I have always thought the world of her. The only time I have ever questioned here judgement is when she said “yes.” Our relationship has always been awesome for 26 years. But the past few months and especially these last 10 days or so…… just wow. I really found out just how strong she is, and just how lucky I am.

Today, my pain level is a 2 at worst. I can walk up and down the street in total comfort. The numb areas on my body do provide nice little, on provoked, unexpected "zaps" here and there as they regain their feeling. But all in all, I'm in great spot.

Any questions? If I think of anything else, I'll add to the thread lol! Kidding.... I'm going for a walk now
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:47 PM
Bugler Bugler is online now
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Glad everything went well for you. Being awake with tubes in the throat would have made me a bit claustrophobic.
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:06 PM
Ozark Bob Ozark Bob is offline
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Location: Lakeview, Arkansas, USA.
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I didn't think it was too long at all. A good story with a happy ending is not a common thing these days! Good for you and one's attitude is a big part of anything you do. Congratulations, live long and prosper. Bob
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:08 PM
thump55 thump55 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: WI
Posts: 3,640

Good deal...it's nice when things go smooth!

I got no advice on how to reward your wife except to say that chics seem to dig it when you procalim their greatness in front of as many people and as loudly as possible...

Hope you heal up quick!
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Old 11-11-2020, 02:43 PM
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fishin10 fishin10 is offline
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Location: Auburndale Fla
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Good For You! My wife was a absolute Angel throughout my procedures and afterwards.
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Old 11-11-2020, 07:11 PM
Dave Watkins Dave Watkins is online now
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Michigan
Posts: 188

Thanks for taking the time to tell your story. So glad things are going well. Scary stuff but it sounds like you were in very good hands. Prayers for a complete recovery and years of good health.
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:06 PM
johnboat johnboat is offline
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Location: Waterloo, Iowa.
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Good news.

Best wishes to continued improvement!
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Old 11-11-2020, 09:10 PM
OldFootdoc OldFootdoc is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 271

Good for you and your fam Der... God is good and will continue to watch over you during your recovery... Take it slow - we're not 19 anymore and slow but sure you will regain your abilities... From what you described, your wife had an opportunity to show her compassion and love for you in your time of need and did a beautiful job - something you will never forget... I don't know much about your pathology but hope and pray you continue to improve and live life to the fullest...
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Old 11-12-2020, 12:04 AM
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97roughneck 97roughneck is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: SD & AZ
Posts: 875

As someone who also suffers from Afib, I read your story with great interest. As a matter of fact, I've been taking tests for over 2 months so the cardiologist would know exactly what he was dealing with.

As it stands, he started me on 50 mg Flecanaide 2X a day a week ago. Almost immediately I started to feel better. Today I went back and had an EKG. All looked good so the dosage is now increased to 100 mg 2X daily. In a week, I'll have another EKG and if all is well, that will be the only step necessary to control my condition.

These changes our body goes through as we age are something I never expected. I have "drank enough booze to float a battleship," as my old boss used to say. Now even half a glass of wine is enough to send me into Afib so booze is off the table. Oh well.

I wish you all the best in your recovery and continue to post your updates.
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Old 11-12-2020, 07:30 AM
Paul H Paul H is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Zanesville OH
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Glad everything worked out well.

Makes me proud to be an Ohioan. Columbus also has one of the best cancer hospitals in the country.

Side note, my cardiologist also has Afib, wears an Apple watch to ID it if needed, Think he may have been a beta tester as he had one before they were available publicly.
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