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Monday, July 15, 2013

From the Jaws of Victory

I was so stoked when I got an appointment with the doc over at KU who does the MICS, minimally invasive cardiac surgery. Actually, they seem fond of calling it robot surgery because the thing that lets them go in between the ribs instead of splitting the breast plate is, basically, a robot.

This is not your Daddy's bypass surgery. The incision is 5 to 7 centimeters, between two ribs. It's still major surgery, coronary bypass and all that, but the recovery time is much quicker and you still get the benefits, in my case of that mammary artery to LAD graft, the best patency in the arsenal. They have theories but don't entirely know why, but that mammary artery just doesn't get clogged up.

The idea was do that, then go in and stent the diagonal and left circumflex blockages. I'd be back on the bike sooner rather than later, I'd still be a virgin chest if they needed to do bypass surgery again 20 years later (I'm only 43).

Turns out, my LAD goes below the surface of the heart for a good stretch, including into the grafting spot. So while I'm a perfect candidate for this operation in so many ways, it turns out I'm not a candidate at all. The doc didn't say it was a bad idea, he said, 'I won't try to do it.' The danger, since he can't feel for the grafting spot on the LAD, is he'd end up puncturing the wall of the heart with his robot, then have to split me open anyway to do emergency repair work on the heart in addition to the bypass work.

So I did my best to worm out of it but I'm getting a bypass operation very similar to Daddy's. They'll use my radial artery for the grafting material instead of the veins in my legs, and since I have a nickel allergy they'll have to hook my sternum back up with titanium instead of stainless, but I'm getting more or less the same surgery my Dad had eleven years ago. My uncle who built me Lilith had it, too. My grandfather son both sides of the family would have had it except they died of heart disease back when the only thing to be done for it was nitroglycerin and not overdoing it.

On the one hand, this is going to be a big bowl of suck. It'll probably be November before I'm back on my bike, I'll probably miss over a month of work (and I'm a one-man department, so that's no small beer in itself). I guess I should be grateful that they can do all they're going to do with me, my grandfathers didn't get that option.

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