Don’t Go Breaking my Heart…

Bypass graft.

So come to find out, the hard part of my surgery was the bypass bit. Hard to perform and harder to recover from. When we arrived at Basildon Hospital and the local experts explained what would happen and how long it would take, I can remember very little. A general air of Bonhomie and an industrious feel about the whole thing was what I remember best.

With my daughter’s help, I can reconstruct the series of events. It would take at least the two of us anyway. Meg was in a bit of shock and I was so stoned from the pain medication that I made Keith Richards‘ look tee-total.

The first decision was easy. From my view point it was, “Blah, blah, blocked artery, blah blah, Stents, blah, blah, easy surgery.” It was all very relaxed and ‘Pip Pip cheerio old man’ we’ll be done in time for a cuppa tea and some biscuits.

Meg was able to get a bit more out of the conversation than I could in my drug induced euphoria. Her job (at least she felt it was her job) was to listen to everything they said and try to digest what was happening. She heard, “We’ve had a look. He’s got a blocked artery and we can put in a couple of stents. Very routine and it will take no time at all.”

Of course after this straight-forward and relaxing briefing, it went nothing like that at all. While putting the stents in they found another couple of problems. Sewing me up quickly they withdrew me from the ‘routine’ surgery room and I was ‘prepped’ again.

They asked me if I had a better leg for veins. Which leg had the least amount of varicose veins. But, like the earlier conversation, all I heard was, “Blah, blah, Veins. Blah blah, Bypass, Blah blah Tear.” Again Meg had to listen and pass the information on when I was less ‘doped up.’

It seems that I had a ‘dodgy’ vein and they would have to replace it with one from my right leg. There was also a ‘tear’ in The Aaortic  Valve that could turn nasty. This was all emergency bypass surgery and the bit that ‘kicked my butt.’ The valve would be watched throughout the surgery as this might have to be replaced with a ‘fake one.

The vast majority of this information is very much after the fact. Repeated conversations with my daughter has allowed a better piecing together of the events.

The bypass surgery bit I knew very little about. The stents I understood as my dad has had them a couple of times. I’d had an uncle who’d had a Triple-bypass surgery done when he was a couple of years older than me. He used to carry nitroglycerin tablets with him. He would be out cutting the hay and stop and put one of these tablets under his tongue.

I am going in this afternoon to get stitches removed by my local surgery’s nurse and start my first real steps to recovery.

It is all very different this surgery. I was sitting here thinking  back to my major back surgery in 1999. It was long and for the most part uneventful. It did not fall into the realm of ‘life threatening’ at all.

Of course neither did my ‘blockage’ operation until they discovered that I had deeper problems than they initially thought.

If you or a loved one (family, partner, spouse, et al) are due for bypass surgery, which is the one that requires the most work and ‘down time’ for the patient. Google it. If you are lucky you’ll know way before hand that you need bypass surgery and what that all entails.

I was wonderfully lucky. I had a team of top-notch professionals who knew what they were doing and were careful to let us know as much as possible about what was going on in the limited time they had.

So the bypass surgery was an emergency surgery, but, the recovery time was not. Despite having to check my torn Aortic Valve regularly I never felt that did not care about my recovering or that they were ‘put out’ by having to do a ‘running’ check on me.

A lot of people moan about the National Health Service (NHS), me included. But this is twice in my life that the NHS has stepped out smartly and taken brilliant care of me.

In the USA as far as I know they are still fighting for an American version of our NHS. Well let me tell you something mate, I’ve  had health care under both existing systems and I can’t say one negative word about the NHS.

If I do, they might want their stents back.

This little stent went to market…