Monday, May 9, 2011

CABG surgery day

Yesterday mid-afternoon darling Emily drove Sweetheart Vivienne and me to the Melbourne Private Hospital [1]. A few minutes later, the paperwork had been done and we were in the ward. I had a chest x-ray and some blood tests. Then in the late afternoon we met my surgeon Mr Goldblatt. For the first time. In a gentle, unrushed and authoritative way, he explained to us what happens before, during and after the surgery. I quickly decided I had confidence in this man. Soon after, Sweetheart Vivienne left – with darlings Sue and Jeffrey who drove her home. Later the anaesthetist visited. During her stay the information flow was almost all from me to her. After she left, my arms, legs and chest were shaved. Then I showered, during which I scrubbed myself with iodine antimicrobial foam. Then I donned my pyjamas – the final symbol of my conversion from person to patient. Then I hopped into bed.

Today was CABG surgery day. I woke early. After a good sleep – courtesy of tablets. I had another shower including a further iodine foam scrub. And I donned one of those awful hospital gowns. No breakfast for me, of course. I was in the pre-operative fasting stage. The perfusionist (who was to operate the heart-lung machine keeping me alive when my heart would be stopped during the operation) called by. To bid me g’day. I remember saying I hoped he was in top form. And that he replied he was.

I was warmed by the thought that all day, three of our darling daughters would be physically with Sweetheart Vivienne. And the fourth – in the USA – would be with them in spirit.
Farmdoc’s Blog readers know my dad had clinical heart disease since his early 40s, and a heart attack killed him at age 56 [2]. (Then, in 1969, CABG surgery wasn't available.) Funny thing. All morning this morning I wasn’t Farmdoc. Nor was I Ross. I was Inigo Montoya – hero of the 1987 film The Princess Bride [3]. And continuously, as if on a tape loop, was Montoya’s oft-stated threat: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. [4] The heart disease that killed my father, and that was afflicting me, was about to be conquered. Not by Montoya’s sword. But by Goldblatt’s knife. (That Sweetheart Vivienne’s my Princess Bride's also relevant, of course.)

Late morning a nurse came to give me a morphine injection. And that’s my last pre-operative memory.

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