Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

“Hooper, We’re Going To Need A Bigger Boat”

It is early morning, April 17th, 2008. It is considered a cakewalk, routine surgical procedure. Insert a camera into my groin, obviously not a Sony DVD cam, but a tiny camera that would traverse through my body to locate exactly where any blockage, or blockages would be, and then place a stint to open the blockage(s).

It had been nearly twenty years since my last surgery, a laparotomy for staging my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but this was not going to be anywhere near as invasive or disruptive. In and out, on the same day, perhaps just a little sore.

That was how it was supposed to go.

I woke up from my anesthesia at 3:00, to see Dr. Chris at the foot of my bed, telling my (then) wife as well as a friend who stopped by to visit me, “we have your husband set up for emergency bypass surgery tomorrow. He has three confirmed blockages, but the most important one is the LAD. It is blocked 90%.” Then my friend blurted out, “Oh my God, it’s a widowmaker.” Dr. Chris recognized the term and quickly chided her saying, “we don’t really like to use that term, but yes, you are correct.”

The main artery going to my heart had grown damaged over the years from the major exposure of radiation therapy, nowhere near what is used today. Dr. Chris put it simply, I have to be the luckiest man alive. It was not a question if I was going to have a fatal heart attack, but when. Four months I had the symptoms and ignored them.

The next several hours flew by, as I was rushed from pre-op test to pre-op test. Finally around 11pm I was allowed to be left alone, but in four hours, I would begin to be prepped for the biggest surgery of my life.

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