What Did We Do?

Dennis and Jenny Hacker's Year in Africa

Getting the ticker ticking!

November 22, 2017 | Zap! Zap!

We’re back in CT now after being in Madagascar and I will be having cardiac ablation surgery on October 4th. In my almost 71 years, I’ve had many, many surgeries. Once I counted them and I came up with 15+ surgeries. Yes, as a baby I was circumcised. As a youth, my tonsils and adenoids were removed because that was what was done to some child who got colds or swollen tonsils ±64 years ago. There was no consideration of leaving them in. No idea that they were useful. The concept of God not sticking spare parts in us never occurred to the medical profession. I’m really surprised that everyone didn’t have their appendix removed because it was a useless part!

It’s one thing to have a bunch of orthopedic surgeries, or soft tissue surgeries when you’re a baby, but now, someone’s going to mess with my heart! Yes, the heart is messed up, but it’s working still. I can walk up to 7 miles a day.

To say I’m apprehensive is an understatement. I didn’t know what was going to happen. They told me that I was going in before lunch and stay the night after surgery. I naively thought he’d do just one site and the surgery would be over. As the 4th drew closer, I became more wary.

Finally, the 4th.

NPO since 6 the prior evening. Get Uber and go to the Christiaan Bernard Netscape Hospital with Jenny by my side. Check in. Go to the 10th floor and get into a hospital gown. Have vitals taken. Get blood drawn. Have EKG. Talk with the anesthetist (an-ees-tha-tist). Talk with the surgeon-well, actually the surgery is done by a robotic machine made in the USA. He just directs it. Go to the surgery. Kiss Jenny “goodby”. Remove one gown and open the other (had two so my butt wasn’t showing). Say “goodnight” to the anesthetist and nurses.

Four hours later, I slowly awoke to the beep, beep, beep of the monitoring instruments in the CCU. As soon as I was awake and with it, I looked at the EKG and it was beautiful. No sign of the a/fib. Hooray!!! Heart rate about 80 bpm.

Jenny came in. God, she looks wonderful. Whilst I was asleep, she was getting an MRI on her left hip. An immediate kiss was just the medication THIS doctor ordered. After about an couple hours, Jen went home as there was nothing to do but for me to get through the night.

Then, monitoring vitals. I try to relax, but the bed is so narrow I can’t roll over, all my joints ache and I’m cold. A warm blanket is brought, but that doesn’t help. Finally, they bring a hot-air blower and put it under the covers so I begin to warm up. I’m warned not to roll over as I had the cannula in my groin. That’s  where the cautery was introduced.

Beep, Beep, Beep!  Wank, wank, wank…an alarm sensor goes off and a nurse slowly walks over and checks. She hits a button and everything is quiet. Then another wank, wank, wank from the bed next to me in the CCU. Then someone returns from their surgery and they start to groan and wake up. Cough, cough, cough. Mucus from the endotracheal tube being down our throats makes us all have to cough up a lung. The man in the bed across from me is virtually shouting into his phone. It never ceases to amaze me that people think you need to shout your message 20 km to be heard. Maybe here, you do.

My PO2 was too low. The alarm went off about every 5 minutes. Finally, they gave me a nose tube for oxygen. After that, my PO2 was fine and no more alarms.

I’d like to snooze, but there is so much noise I cannot sleep. The view from the bed, with me on my back, was not too stunning.

The nurse asks if I would like something to help me sleep. I quickly said yes. It didn’t help. I was awake until after 2 A.M. It seemed that just when I had fallen asleep, VITALS or the alarm for the patient next to me! My back is killing me! I ache all over. I’d give anything to roll onto my side, but I cannot.

Nurses shift changes. New name to remember, if I can. And, I can’t. I think this is the time they pull my cannula, but I can’t remember. Oh, my, am I having mini strokes? Why can’t I remember? What’s wrong with me? I do remember Jenny. I’m in Cape Town. I’m Dennis Hacker.

Breakfast comes in. I eat the eggs and tomato. Skip the meat! I can at least remember I’m a pescavegevore.

Dr. Lorgat came in and gave us directions orally-how to take my medications, when to taper. My regimen is to be 80 mg sotalol BID, Xarelto™ QD, and Nexium™ QD. In one month, taper to 80 mg sotalol AM and 40 mg PM. After another month, 40 mg BID. Rest as before. Recheck in 6 weeks. Jenny was listening and so was I. We were given a prescription to fill downstairs at the pharmacy in the lobby. No alcohol for at least 6 weeks. No exercise until the bruise on my thigh resolves.

That’s a hella bruise.

That’s going to take time. Time to go. I walk out of the CCU to the elevator. Riding down to the lobby, I’m wiped out! I sat whilst Jenny gets the prescriptions filled. We call Uber and ride home.

I sleep and take my medications. No walking for several days except to the dining table and bathroom. I promised Jenny I’ll be a good patient after she remains me that I’d get very pissed off if MY clients didn’t take my instructions for their pets to heart after surgeries I’d done.

Slowly, my strength returns. I keep checking my heart rate and it’s 38-40! I don’t have a lot of energy and I’m guessing that’s from the effects of surgery and the bradycardia (slow heart rate).

A week after surgery, Jen has an appointment at Christiaan Barnard Hospital with an orthopedic surgeon. After her appointment, we went to Dr. Lorgat’s office. I was concerned that my heart rate remained at 39. The receptionists asked me to wait whilst Dr. Lorgat finished a procedure because he wanted to check me. The assistant came in after a bit and said we’d do an EKG whilst awaiting the doctor. My heart rate was 42 on the EKG and the wave was normal to my eye. Dr. Lorgat came in and examined the EKG. He smiled about a mile wide and said everything looked marvelous! Agreeing the rate was too low, he discontinued the sotalol that night and cut it to 40 mg BID vs 80 mg BID. Rest as before. By the next day, my rate was up to 46-48 and I felt much better. Recheck at 7 weeks as we are to be in Zambia at the 6 week point.

After the bruise resolved, I began walking. I’m now able to walk as much as I want. I don’t go real fast, but I’m doing well. No alcohol, or at least not much😉.

I see Dr. Lorgat today for my first official follow-up. My heart rate continues to be 44-52. I’ve only be up to 70 immediately after doing push-ups with my trainer. Thirty seconds later, my rate was 55. I’m doing well, as far as I can tell. More after my check-up later.

Good News!!!

My appointment went GREAT!!! My heart rate was 49! Excellent EKG! Dr. Lorgat was extremely pleased. I get to reduce my sotalol to 40 mg QD AM, Xarelto™ and Nexium™ remain QD. In 1 month I am to discontinue everything except for a baby aspirin QD forever. I’m so happy I decided to have this surgery done.

Now, on to Zambia in November.


FILED IN: This and That

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