Monday, 9 April 2012

How Our Life Journey Changed - part 2

After Mr Trifectagirl took his turn for the worse, I was asked to wait in a a short-term waiting area.  And I received a call from his cardiologist, who was at a training weekend interstate.

And the news was bad.  Very bad.  What they suspected he had has a very, very low survival rate.  And the only chance was major chest surgery.

I spent pretty much the whole day filled with dread of being a widow with a 1 year old by the end of the day.   Mr Trifectagirl had fantastic nurses day one, and I will be forever grateful to them for their support.

I called friends and they arrived to support me for the afternoon.  And what was going to happen chopped and changed so frequently over the day.  Surgery.  No Surgery.  Past surgeries a problem.  Past surgeries probably will help in survival. 

At one point they sent me home to rest for a little while. I then received a call to come into the hospital, which my step-mother joined me.  We were ushered into one of the family rooms (which the fantastic volunteers in the unit apologised for the state of - a family member of another patient had punched through the walls the week prior and they hadn't had a chance to repair the damage), and I commented 'if one person comes through the door, it's not good'.  In came the nurse.  But she said she wanted to be there with me, and that she was being followed by a whole hoard of heads of departments!  One was the cardiologist, who had rushed back from the training.   He got the job of explaining to me what had happened.

A hole had formed between the oesophagus and the heart - it had taken soo long to figure out what had happened as it didn't look like they were expecting on scans - it was much smaller and was more like a valve than an actual hole (red herring #2).  Due to the hole, there was a bad infection and an air-bubble had gotten into the blood stream.  That air-bubble has resulted in a stroke.

The first priority was to fix that hole.  Except that no-one would go in to do it.  All of his past surgeries made it too risky to do the normal fix of more surgery.  But the hole needed to be fixed or he would die. Apparently the heads of about 5 different departments had been collaborating and researching to come up with a solution.  And they did.  A solution with no guarantees. A solution with only one  survivor from a sample of patients numbering less than 10 world wide. But a solution none the less.  A stent needed to be inserted in his oesophagus to cover the hole and give it a chance to heal, which is normally done by pumping air in and giving it a bit more room for an gastro-enterology doc to manoeuvre. But that could result in another stroke.

So in comes some funky radiology doctor, who performs procedures under imaging - he told me 'we get everything that no one else wants to touch'.   So he attempted an insertion without any air using only imaging to guide him (and the consent form I signed said 'attempted').  They didn't know if he would survive this at all.

That was a very, very hard hour and I am so grateful that the Minister who married us came and sat with us through-out.  He arrived in time to say a prayer and give Mr Trifectagirl a blessing prior, too.  The Minister said 'I don't have an 'oh crap' feeling.  I've been through hairy medical situations with families a lot, and I don't have an 'oh crap' feeling.'

We got back to ICU, and the nurse greeted me with the biggest smile - Mr Trifectagirl made it through the procedure. He now had a fighting chance of survival.

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