Monday, October 18, 2010

A Room With A View: The Trip Home

For those of you who haven't heard, I ended up flying home this past Tuesday for a family emergency. It plays out something like this:

Friday 06:00 - My aunt Sandi sends me a text message while I'm at work saying Nana was taken to the hospital around 01:00 with chest pains and difficulty breathing. She was placed in ICU. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF) and aortic stenosis. She also had a mild heart attack (MI)

Friday 13:30 - Nana was med-flighted up to Tufts in Boston. The doctors had planned on taking her in to do a heart cath to see how extensive the blockage was and to possibly place some stents. She was too unstable for them to try the cath so they were going to put her on some meds to try to stabilize her over the weekend and try to do the cath on Monday.

Friday 23:30 - Nana started having chest pains again so the doctors decided to go ahead with the heart cath. They were unable to place stents so they inserted a balloon pump instead. She was at about 85% blockage.

Saturday (Sometime that morning) - Nana had a mild stroke (TIA) which affects her left side. The doctors came in and told Nana that she would need an aortic valve replacement and bypass surgery. They gave her 24 hours to think over the decision because of the surgery risks: 30% chance she might not survive surgery and they couldn't guarantee that her quality of life would be better afterwards. If she chose not to have surgery they gave her a 75% chance of living 2 years. Nana decided to go ahead with the surgery.

Sunday (Morning) - The doctors informed Nana that she was not a candidate for surgery because of her age, health issues and whatnot. At that point they were going to give her meds to make her comfortable and eventually send her home.

Sunday (Afternoon) - Dr. Weintraub, one of her doctors, explained there was another procedure they could do which could act as a bridge of sorts to help Nana get to the point of being able to have surgery. He offered the option of a valvuloplasty. They literally go in and crack the valve so it stays open. As with any surgery, this one had risks as well: the possibility of dying during the procedure. Nana agreed to the surgery. Mom and I started looking at flights to fly home.

Monday (Afternoon) - We were told that the surgery would take place on Wednesday morning at 10:00. Mom and I booked our flights for the next day. Nana had a CT scan to check the calcification level on her arteries.

Tuesday (Afternoon) - Mom and I flew into Logan and we headed straight to the hospital. We met with Dr. Weintraub and Dr. Jaffe (another one of her doctors) and they informed us that there was extensive calcification and the scan showed she has cirrhosis as well. Because of these two things as well as her general age and health they made the decision that Nana would never be a candidate for surgery and therefore there would be no need to do the valvuloplasty. Nana was moved from ICU to a regular room.

From here on out - The doctors have placed Nana on various cardiac meds to make her comfortable. She was transfered to a rehabilitation center to help regain some more mobility in her leg. I'm not sure if she'll ever be able to live in her apartment unassisted again. And, as if there wasn't enough excitement going on, the ambulance that was transporting her blew a tire on the highway (coincidently) just hours after we had an almost roll-over accident with my aunt and her three kids.

When it rains, it pours. And I couldn't agree more.

All of the above photos were taken around Tufts. It's a beautiful hospital tucked nicely into Chinatown.

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