*** note – the following is a re-telling of the events leading up to my double bypass surgery, approaching my fifth anniversary, tomorrow.
It was a long overnight. I could not sleep at all. It had been nearly eighteen years since the last time I had seen an operating room.
Wendy’s sister had come by the house as she would sit with Wendy in the waiting room while I had catheterization to place a stint, or stints where my cardiologist felt there were blockages. He would go up through the vein in my groin.
We arrived at the hospital and I was greeted by Heather, my nurse, and soon joined by two others. They were all so nice. Evidently I was giving off quite a bit of fear. I got changed into the wonderful hospital garb, and then another one of those blasted catheter lines was inserted.
My gourney was then rolled to a holding area, where I met my anesthesiologist as well as Dr. S my cardiologist. I made my final pleas to everyone. “I had cancer. I had radiation and chemotherapy. I have no spleen. I just needed you to know that.” I have no idea why these comments rolled off of my tongue at that particular moment.
That is all I remember of that moment. The next thing I remember is silly, sad, and serious.
Dr. S: We got in with the catheter and we found the blockage. Unfortunately, it is clear that your husband had some lasting side effects from the radiation he was exposed to. We were not able to stint. There is a major blockage of the LAD along with two other blockages.
Just then, a friend who had stopped by to visit me, offered her commentary.
Friend: Oh my God, it’s a widowmaker!
Dr. S.: Well, yes, we don’t usually like to call it that, but yes, that is what it is.
Me: Widowmaker? What?
Dr. S.: We have Paul set up for emergency triple bypass tomorrow morning at 6:30am.
Me: Bypass? Bypass?!? Bye Bye. Bypass.
Yes, I was still coming out of the anesthesia. That is all I made out. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Wendy sink, just collapse as if her skeleton had been removed from her body.
The next five hours were just a blur. I know I had gotten up to walk a little as I was encouraged to do. Although my left leg had begun to swell at the insertion point from the catheterization. It was 8:00 when I finally realized what was going to happen. I still had not eaten, and I was going to be fasted in four hours.
But now, an orderly was in my room to take me for pre-surgical tests: echocardiogram, EKG, and an ultrasound on my legs, to find what vein to harvest for the bypass. I was returned back to my room around 11:00pm. I could not sleep at all.
The next few hours, I would have several visitors stop by, encouraging me to sleep. One visitor, who happened to resemble Michael Clark Duncan in shape and appearance, came into my room at 3:00am, to “prep” me. So now, the most uncomfortable moment with a razor was going to be a new moment.
At 4:00am, I rang for my nurse.
Me: Is it possible for me to be taken down to the chapel? I have a few things I would like to take care of.
Nurse: Really? You need to do it now? They are probably going to come for you in the next hour or so.
And so, the nurse rolled me downstairs to the chapel.
When I came back to my room, “Michael Clarke Duncan” was waiting for me. It was time.