Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Updated news on upcoming surgery

Well, today was one of those bummer days. I’ve have had complications with my surgery and if you have been following my blog, the ratio (hole) has returned. Remember when I went and it was first diagnosed at 2.8 and then I had the surgery and then it was diagnosed at 1.6/1.7. Now it is 2.2. That is not good.

So Dr. Condon set me up to go and see Dr Mark Reisman at Swedish. He is the Director of Cardiovascular Research.

Dr. Condon and Dr Reisman have been comparing notes and possible ways to fix this issue. Put two smart Doctors together and you get a good…no, wait a great plan.

So let me backtrack a bit. Dr. Condon called me earlier this week. It was this basically in a nutshell. The hole is big, we need to fix it, high chance of clots (bad), don’t want to live rest of my life on pills (bad), the prior major open heart surgery was not a success since it didn’t repair the defect.

I have been getting tired easily now and tend to crash hard. I just figured it was due to the fact that I was pushing myself too hard. But it is the flow of un-oxygenated blood back into my system. My system has to work harder than normal since it has limited oxygen. I am not a Medical Doctor but just a lowly Electrical Engineer. What I do know is my systems are not functioning as they should.
As an engineer, if a system doesn’t work and it is a critical/main system, it can severe problems for airplanes. As a FAA engineer, my role is to make sure that airplanes are safe to fly. My area is electrical wiring and I am a Project Manager on the new electrical wiring laws that were just recently released. I work for the Seattle Aircraft Certification Office. These set of laws/rules that were recently released is the largest rule making packing ever released. Our role is to make sure the airplanes are certified for safe flight. I work with a bunch of passionate and ethical people and I am honored to be with them.

Prior to the FAA, I worked at Boeing as a Design engineer on the 737/757 projects. Most of those guys that I worked with in 1990; I work with now at the FAA. We had a tight, tough team lead by Tony Castillos. Now we all are at the FAA. We are family since most of us have known each other for 17 years.

So what am I trying to say? As an engineer, you must have ethics and be passionate to do your job properly. You have to try to be the best at what you do. You have to have a passion for your work. At your work, we strive to make sure our work is the best since the public replies on us to make sure the planes are safe to fly. In case you were wondering, flying is at the safest it has been for years. I trust the guys that I work with and we do our jobs with passion as well as ethics. It is an awesome place to work for. They have been great in making sure that I stay in the loop at work as well as making sure I get the time off for the surgeries and recovery time. I love my job and my co-workers.

So hearing my system is not functioning properly is not a good idea. As an engineer, you have to make sure the critical or any systems works or failures can occur. You have to fix the errors so everything works. We have passion for our work. A real deep passion.

So enough of my rambling. Dr Condon has the passion for his work. He has genuine concern for his patients. I saw the same passion with Dr. Reisman.

Passion is a very powerful emotion. Used properly it can lead to great discoveries, inventions, cures, better quality of life and betterment of yourself.

I am not going back to Overlake or Dr Austin for anymore heart surgery. We are going to go to Swedish Hospital. Dr. Condon thinks we can use the “clam shell” technique on me than the major open heart surgery. The results of the TEE shows there is a hole. It looks like there is enough of a rim on both sides so the clam shell device to clamp onto. Then scar tissue will grow over it and seal the hole. We couldn’t do this operation before as there was no rim since there was no wall between the right and left atrium. Now, even though the open heart surgery was not a total success in closing the hole, it managed to create a wall so the *clam shell* can latch on to and seal the hole.

We had hoped the first/second surgery would have sealed the major hole and it did for a bit but it opened up again. No one really knows why as you can’t quite whip open the chest and take a peek inside. The TEE shows some details but not extensive details. The best detail is actually looking at the inside of the heart. They will do that when they do the surgery.

OK, so this surgery will happen as follows. They will go via my groin using a catheter in my vein to insert the *clam shell* device. The device is stretched out to go into the vein and when in the hole, it is blown up like a balloon. Then they will see if it fits and will have enough rim to hold on to as well as other criteria. I am a good candidate for this as I have good veins (verified today at Swedish) and the TEE shows a rim.

There is some risk as well with any surgery. Last surgery had a risk of not sealing properly and unfortunately it didn’t seal. I was assured it was a low risk and something went wrong and the hole opened up. Granted the whole wall didn’t disappear so in that regard that was good but a hole reappeared.

In this surgery the risk is the clam shell won’t have enough of a rim to hold on to so then they will have to do an Open heart surgery. But given what data that was presented and you know us engineers love data, it looks like it will be a success.

Some info:

Dr Reisman is super energetic and very outgoing. He makes me look quite quiet compared to him. I know you will find that hard to believe!! They were very thorough in explaining what was the issues, what needed to be done, the risks, the recovery and so forth. I had a ton of questions to ask but they addressed most of them in the consultation. The staff was very professional and kind and made me feel at home. Dr. Condon’s office is that way too. It makes you feel more at ease. One of the folks escorted me to the section that I had to get my veins tested…..that little act of kindness was a 5 star rating in my book.

I had to tease Dr. Reisman about his accent. He is from New York and has the New York energy. I really felt at ease with him and am confident about my surgery.

I was pretty bummed when I talked to Dr. Condon earlier this week. I felt like I had gone through a lot only to be told that I was not fixed. Dr. Condon wanted to make sure that this surgery would be successful and his concern was evident over the phone. It’s nice to have a caring person like that on your side. I am really glad that my family Doctor Mindy Hsue made the appointment for me with Dr. Condon.

After my visit, I was in great spirits. Then I had to navigate through Seattle traffic on Capitol Hill. URGH. I really hate traffic jams and driving in the city. I guess I am getting spoiled living inn the county.

So to fix my wounded pride in driving, I stopped and got a cheeseburger and malted chocolate shake at local burger place. I felt much better afterwards.

The surgery is set for Nov 14th. It should take an hour or so and I will be awake during the procedure. I will get a copy of the tape too. It will require an overnight stay. For a few weeks after the surgery, I am not supposed to lift heavy objects until the groin incision heals. Today I was tossing about 50 lbs bales of hays so I guess that is going to end soon. Soon I will be back up to speed. Oh yea, no horse riding either for a bit. I just have to be more aware of what I can do until I heal.

I will be happy when this is done and I am well. It’s been a long and hard road but there is an end in sight. I talked to Getty tonight. He is at the Ultimate Frisbee National Championships in Florida. He is feeling good about this and was worried about this. I think he is at ease now. I hope his team does well at the Nationals. Nelson and I talked and it’s good to have such a caring brother. I finally called my mom to tell her. I had talked to Nelson earlier in the week but wanted to have everything all squared away before I talked to my mom. She is a very typical Japanese mother that worries about her children. I think I got her all okay with this surgery now.

Tonight while I watching TV and writing this blog, surrounded by Tess, Nan and Rainey, I realize that this is all going to work out. I will be trialing soon (one of my passions) and life will go on. The surgery and recovery time is far less that what I just went through and this will soon be just a memory.

Speaking of memories, the dogs and I have a good memory of eating home made caramel popcorn while watching “Without a Trace”. And the popcorn disappeared without a trace!!

1 comment:

1sheepdoggal said...

Geeze girl! Im so sorry to hear you have to go through more. Ive been really hoping for you that you wouldnt have to go through that, but it sounds as if youve got a good team behind you and that this last surgery will do the trick. Its good that you are able to continue to be so positive. My heart goes out to you and your family. Keep the faith.