Please be careful with my heart, doc! (Part 2)-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
GOING through all the possible questions I have in mind, Dr. Kim, my cardiologist was so patient with me and really reassured me of the successful prognosis of this “not so” uncommon surgery now a days. So, I was referred to a cardiac surgeon by her.
In fact, there were many times I felt like backing off but thinking it will help me lead a normal life after, I didn’t hesitate to see the world-renowned Cardiothoracic Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Daniel Swistel, Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at St Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital and specializes in coronary artery surgery, heart valve surgery and minimally invasive surgical procedures, to name a few.
He is not only a cardiac surgeon, but he is one of only a few of surgeons in the world with surgical expertise for the treatment of Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy and has one of the largest operative experiences for both mitral valve repair and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
Dr. Swistel is also one of first surgeons in the US to apply the DaVinci Robotic System and along with others at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital developed many of the techniques for minimally invasive heart surgery which is being utilized now.
So, with this said I was totally convinced for the surgery.
But then again, the apprehensions, the fear of the unknown, the outcome and so many other questions running in my mind was kind of pulling me back.
Alone, I finally made an appointment and was I surprised to see a young looking surgeon (but with more than 30 years of experience) who explained to me (again!) the necessity and importance of the operation.
In fact out of nervousness, I asked the same question (do I really have to go through this, doc? and how long can I delay the surgery?) five times in like 10-15 minutes of my appointment with him. He actually pointed that out to me!
Luckily, I was the last patient he was seeing that afternoon, so we had more time.
He patiently explained to me how the surgery will be done, although I already checked and watched the surgery online he did to a patient long ago prior to seeing him. That caught him off-guard!
He was surprised when I told him that.
But, I was more or less prepared for this fateful encounter.
That also made me more aware of what will and might happen to my chest, sternum, heart and the surrounding organs and tissues.
Guess, aesthetically, it will always be the long (at least 8”) scar that would be left long after the surgery that made me think twice. I even asked if I can have a ‘bikini’ cut instead (of course, I was only kidding!).
After a lot of reassurance, I eventually scheduled myself for the surgery which would not be till September 10th (almost two months waiting period).
I was made to understand that he operates only once a week, and that is always on a Tuesday, according to his secretary.
Being catholic, it is the feast of Saint Nicholas d’ Tolentine, our Patron Saint in Mambajao, Camiguin.
So, I said to myself, it will be an auspicious day and everything will be alright. Positive attitude and thinking there!
Psychologically, I was preparing myself.
Being a psychiatric nurse and having co-workers (psychiatrists -- Dr. Ajit, Dr. Rahjes, Dr. Foglia, Dr. Fabunan, the nurses, and social workers) to talk to really helped me cope.
Emotionally, I have my beloved family, relatives and tons of friends from all over the world (mostly my students before who are successful in their own rights as nurses), my clinical instructors, friends from the culinary industry, academe, classmates showering me with the needed support, prayers, text messages, phone calls upon knowing of my impending surgery.
With Fr. Sancho and Fr. Hippolytus of Jacobi Medical Center as my spiritual counselors, whom I see almost every day during mass, it really prepared me to leave it all up to God.
I might be not very “religious” but I surrendered myself to Him. I was at peace. And that is all that matters.
That I guess was the ultimate challenge of it all.
I accepted the fact that I will have an open heart surgery and that the good Lord will guide the hands of the surgeons and the whole surgical team that will touch and heal my heart eventually.
For almost two months, I contemplated and prepared myself in all aspects.
Scared but open to the fact that this is bound to happen soon. There is no way out now. This is it! Thy will be done!
As the days passed, I was inclined to move the date, but then I started to feel a bit worse.
Those 15-minute walks that I do every day going to hospital suddenly became almost 30 minutes or more. That definitely frightened me!
It is not a good sign.
So, I emailed Dr. Kim and asked more questions.
In several occasions, she will call right away in less than 15 minutes for answers I needed, although I was expecting an email answer in return. Now, what do you call that?
I am so lucky to have Dr. Kim and I always tell my friends about her. So compassionate, so approachable, so ever smiling that I would just totally be speechless when I see her in her clinic. (Of course, that’s not true but I tend to forget some important questions running in my mind–maybe also because of my inner angst and trepidations!).
So, I was prepared in all aspects and was just waiting.
(Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 26, 2013.