I had an appointment on the 15th of May. My
wife and daughter dropped me off. I got my scooter out of the trunk of the car.
I went inside the hospital but between the coffee shop and the elevators on the first
floor, I had a heart attack. Cecil had a massive heart attack at the VA
on that day. We took him to the cath lab there. We opened up his artery and put him on a support
system called intra-aortic balloon pump. That wasn’t enought to keep him going.
That was clear. He was on a breathing machine, an aortic balloon
pump, his artery was opened up. We’d stopped the heart attack, but he had sustained so
much damage at that point that he wasn’t able to sustain. His pressure continued to drop.
He wasn’t doing well. He sustained a lot of damage to the ventricle
on the right side and the bottom of his heart. The right ventricle wasn’t moving at all,
so we wanted to put a pump in there. Prior to a couple weeks to that event, they
would have sent him down the street, opened his chest and put the right ventricular assist
device in surgcially. Which is an extreme high complication rate, morbitidy, mortality
rate for somebody who’s had a heart attack. Instead of a device placed inside the heart,
this can be placed percutaneously. It’s done without making large incisions, it’s done
with periferal canulation. Through large tubes that go through the veins
and come up into the heart, we put the pump aparatus. And through the veins and into the
pulmonary artery. We’re then able to pump blood through the right ventricle basically
bypass the right ventricle and act as a right side pump.
The affect on him was immediate when I was there. We saw him come in a white pale color,
despite being on a ventilator. He had poor oxygen he could have oxygenation coming into
his lungs via the machine but you don’t have enough blood flow going there getting oxygenated.
Therefore he’s not doing well. As soon as we turned the RVAD on, he immediately
“pinked up.” His color got better. His need for agents
to support his blood pressure became much less. Over the next 24 hours, he imporved
remarkably. I felt fine when I got out of the car. The
next thing I remember is waking up over at the med center on the 18th. I lost 3 days. I think it also highlights the VA’s mission
to provide the best medical care it can. And recognizing if they can’t provide that service,
they’ll get a life-saving service done down the street. I salute the VA for striving to
provide the best care they can. I feel so lucky because they didn’t have to
open my chest. He happened to be in the right place at the
right time. Cecil is very fortunate that all the pieces fell into place. It worked out
very well for him. Oh, it’s amazing. The staff over at the med
center is phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for a better crew. I’m just working now to get my strength back
so I can get back home where I can be with all of them.