Mom called me close to noon today to say she was taking dad back to the ER. He was having chest pain that 3 nitro pills didn't totally get rid of.
By the time I got to the ER (pretty quickly), they had dad in a room, hooked up and all sorts of monitored. We got to chat with the manager of the cardio unit there for a while as they explained things to mom. Basically, with this heart episode, the choice of whether to do a heart catheter or not was made for him. We heard the cardiac doc tell dad, "You have to have this done." We also found out that dad's electro-cardio doctor (I'm murdering the real terms here) is the top of the top. The whole group in the ER sang his praises. And they also told us that the cardio doc that was treating dad was cream of the crop, too. Apparently, this new hospital has been busy stealing the best cardio staff from other facilities. So dad is in the best place possible around here! Thank you God!!!
They prepped him for the heart cath and took dad (with us trailing behind) to the cath lab. They put us in the waiting room saying it would be about 45 mins to an hour later. That was noonish. Around 2:30, we thought we should start poking someone. The doc came out a bit later (almost 3:00) to update us. It had really taken that long. It took a whole hour just to feed the catheter in there. His age and a strange branching of the arteries made it slow going. As you age, your arteries start twisting and turning. So it takes a while to get it in there.
Once they got into the heart, they found the blockage in the area that had showed up in earlier tests. They found it almost completely blocked - at dad's age, it's calcium deposits. It was the distal (sp?) artery - one of the lower ones. They put the balloon in there to open it up and then put in two stints. So the flow was restored. The doc told us that dad isn't out of the woods yet. Meaning, this isn't some instant cure to aging. He made sure to explain that this kind of heart blockage is just what happens with age in most people. It's what they used to call hardening of the arteries. And if you think about all of his medical issues, he's doing pretty darned well for 80 years! He will be on plaxil (sp?) for 6 months and they'll continue on the cumaden (sp?) indefinitely. He'll be closely monitored probably from now on. I'm sure the docs will be figuring out the long term game plan over this next day or so. Right now they want to see how he does in this next 24 hrs.
Dad told us in the hallway outside the cath lab, "I feel SO much better." He was pretty doped up but kept his humor up. He introduced one doc to me saying, "This is my daughter the stand up comic." So he was obviously feeling better.
They let mom & me accompany him up to the ICU unit but we had to wait in the family waiting room for a bit. They had dad in a huge "luxury suite" as I call it. It's the one right across from the nurse's station so I was glad for that. He can't bend at the waist due to the incision for the catheter feed. Oh yah - one problem due to his age and blood thinners is that the bleeding at the incision didn't stop as quickly as they'd like. So he has a special bandaging there. And thus the no-bending thing. So they inclined his whole bed in order to allow him to drink & eat a bit. That was tough because he still wasn't fully inclined. It's so hard to swallow like that. So the nurse told him no eating/drinking unless she was in the room with him.
I left him around 4:30, I think? I couldn't really do much but get in the way and crack bad jokes. So I went to grab my boys from my wonderful neighbors who had kept them after school for me. I told mom to update me with any news. I intend to go back tomorrow to see his new regular room. I think Big Sis will be coming up tomorrow, too. So we'll make sure the family is well represented.
I have to tell you, dad is getting amazing care. All of my neighbors and church are asking what they can do. He & mom are well supported out here.
God rocks. Even in the crappy stuff.