Dad’s Heart Surgery Will Happen Soon

Yes. I have known about it. Yes. I have conveniently pushed it aside, out of my mind. Because he’s my Dad. And because he’s Invincible. At least, that’s what I’ve always thought and what I choose to continue thinking.

But the doctors told my dad last week that they want to do the valve replacement surgery that they mentioned a few years ago SOON. My dad got septicemia a few years back and became very sick. Hospital sick. IVs-at-home-around-the-clock-for-12-weeks sick. Helping-my-dad-change-his-IV sick. Watching-him-shrink-in-size sick. It was the most scary event of my life to date.

The septicemia was the result of a crazy kidney stone gone wild. It moved out, then back in, then out, then back into his kidney multiple times, causing damage and an infection that quickly went systemic. Anyway, the bacteria flourishing in his blood quickly and efficiently attacked his heart, just like mine threatened to do after Asher was born. Only, Dad really had it worse because the bacteria did some damage to his heart and caused a heart murmur. It kinda means that the valve is damaged and his heart therefore is not efficiently pushing blood in the correct direction. He has cardiomegaly, which means his heart is enlarged and working harder than it should have to work.

So, they’re planning to replace the valve. It’s just as invasive a surgery as it sounds. They will choose between an artificial valve, or a cow or pig valve and put one of those into my daddy’s heart. Then, they’ll give him a bunch of drugs to keep his body from rejecting the new valve. I believe that is called “immunosuppression therapy.”

My dad has outlived his father, who died at age 45, by 17 years. Dad never expected to, and seems somewhat surprised by this fact whenever he discusses it. I think he expected to have a short life, and I think it has greatly influenced the person he is: carefree, intensely loving, and jolly. He’s always had a carpe diem kind of attitude.

The doc discussed his hope to have Dad on the surgeon’s table “soon.” Dad said, “Well, I have a vacation planned with my wife. We’re going to Fiji and to Australia at the end of July for our 40th wedding anniversary. And it’s paid for, so we’ll have to wait until after I get back.”  That’s SO like my dad.

Although there is no set date, it looks like September will see my dad trudging off to the hospital for a major surgery. We should expect at least three weeks for recovery, and probably more. He sounds a little scared when he talks about it, but he’s still planning to take us all to Maui in January. He says he might have to make Ian carry his bags then, as he’s not suppose to lift heavy things for several months.

So, there are the facts that I know. My brain gets it. My feelings are FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. This story will be continued, probably many times over the next few months.

9 Responses to “Dad’s Heart Surgery Will Happen Soon”

  • lunagirl35
    July 3, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    about your Dad. I remember when I was in High School that I wished my parents were more like them. While heart suregery IS major, know that Sacramento has some of the best resources out there in this area. My mom had a quadruple bypass a few years ago and I can empathise with how stressful this must be for you. Your Mom as well.


  • gypsy_ritsa
    July 3, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Oh, sweetie, that’s scary. Fortunately heart surgeries have become so common that doctors really know what they’re doing. I’m sure he’ll be in good hands.


  • smiley_t
    July 4, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    That is a big surgery and I completely understand your feelings of being scared. To echo gypsy_ritsa, these surgeries are frequently done and really successful. He will not be able to carry the groceries in from the car for a while though.

    Still scary, still serious and I’ll be thinking of you and your family.


  • samayam
    July 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Sorry to hear. Like the other folks have said, this is becoming a fairly routine sort of thing. Not to be taken lightly, but relatively routine. And yeah, we’ve got legendarily (is that a word?) good heart docs out here.

    One odd thing to be aware of afterwards is that after major surgery like this there is a sort of recoil effect where they seem fine for a few days after the surgery then they get a little funny in the head for a few days and then they actually get better. We had been warned about it but we still got pretty worried when T’s dad got depressive and stopped eating or doing much of anything a few days after his heart surgery.


  • jugger_g
    July 4, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    It’s so scary experiencing something like this. If you ever want to talk about it, especially about immunosuppressants, my dad went through a heart transplant. Ditto on what gypsy_ritsa said. It’s amazing how refined and in some cases much less invasive heart surgeries have become in the past 20 years. I hope that things go well and that you remember to take care of yourself as you go through this. <3


  • mrplanet4
    July 4, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t know what the science or statistics are, but both my grandmother and my uncle have had new valves put in their hearts. Neither of them had any ill effects. My grandma chugged along happily for at least a decade with her pig valve before dying of unrelated oldness. Uncle is still plugging away and he had his surgery before my grandma did. He jogs still. A lot.

    So while it is super scary, for what it’s worth I’ve seen two people, one hearty and one frail, survive and thrive after the same procedure. And it’s probably only gotten better since they had it done.


  • dakini_grl
    July 5, 2008 at 10:56 am

    I love that your dad is so insistent about his travel, and is willing to place the event in his life. Like you say, carpe diem.

    Having watched and listened at a distance as my own dad went through complicated surgery, I just want to offer you some comfort and let you know that I am around if you ever need to talk, vent or wonder. My dad was quick to remind me that the fact his doctors said he was a good candidate for the surgery meant that they felt his life would improve as a result, which placed him on the resilient side of the line. He took his surgery as a compliment.

    And after reading all the comments here, I’m grateful there are so many people who can offer you some context to the experience as well.

    Love you darling. All the time.


  • flonkbob
    July 5, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    If they’re willing to wait until after his vacation, then his current condition can’t be too terrible. So that’s a great sign. And if he’s going into it with a good attitude (as he must be if he’s putting it off for vacation) he’ll most likely do well. I was pretty relaxed when they stole my gall bladder and kidney last year. Recovery was a little harder than I expected…but then I expected to be back at my desk working in a week. Heh.

    I suspect he’ll do better with this than you will. Relax a bit, and enjoy time with him. Though this will end up being somewhat of a non-event in terms of his whole life, it’s never a bad thing to really enjoy time with your loved ones.


  • toxgunn
    July 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Eek. I’m really sorry to hear that the need is becoming more pressing. Hopefully all transpire according to plan and as smoothly as possible.



Leave a Reply

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

  • Buy Our Festivals E-Books

  • Archives

  • Tags

  • Categories


  • Meta