Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for the ‘Heart Issues’ Category

My surgery was March 26th. I feel a lot better already, and am slowly starting to get my energy back.

There will, at some point in the next few days, be a wrap up about the surgery post, but I just don’t have the energy tonight.

Needless to say, the rest of this month will consist of various followup appointments.

My first day home, I woke up to find a Fred Email, bemoaning the great wrong he perceives me to be doing to him. Just like with my sister, my surgery was not about me, but about them and how I consistently don’t do right by them.

However, as I noted in a semi-private email this morning, I have – for the most part amazing friends who go to great lengths to try to actually  be useful and helpful in emergencies.

Thank all of you who have helped. You all truly humble me, and humble is a word I very rarely apply to myself.


My pre-surgical clearance work is set for Monday, 24 March, at 10:30. I will be getting a ride in and a ride home.

My surgery is scheduled (should nothing else go wrong) for Wednesday, 26 March, time TBD. The location will be Mount Sinai Hospital, in Manhattan. I am told that I will be in CCU for a few days after the surgery, with very limited visiting, and I probably won’t be up to talking on the phone a lot. If you are local and want to visit, I suggest checking with the hospital for visiting hours and durations or if you know Marc G. or the roomie, call them. After that, I will be transferred to a regular room for several days. Beyond that, it is probable that I will have to go to a rehab place for a few more days, and have some aid at home after the rehab. Tentatively, recovery is supposed to take from six to eight weeks.

I’m mostly holding up okay, although I am scared (which makes total sense – I’m about to let someone literally mess with my heart, and they will have to separate the sternum to do so).

Here is a URL for some information on the surgery I’m going to be having, just in case you want to find out a bit more. Not sure how much I will be blogging between now and going in for the surgery, although I will try to write about the pre-surgery stuff on Monday evening.

To all my friends, I love you; to all my readers that I don’t yet know, I value your taking the time to read this blog; to any family reading, I love you.  While I truly believe I will come through this and recover just fine, I did not want to close without saying it – just in case.

See you all Monday.

I have a tentative surgery date: March 26th. That’s the good news.

However, that may need to be put off for a bit.

See, I had this cellulitis infection occur in December, and again in February. My friend Marie the Nurse (as opposed to Naomi the Nurse) reminded me that this could leave me in a very bad position with regard to surviving the surgery, but subsequently ending up with a staph infection. Her words:

“Something has been bothering me, call it a gut feeling. You had cellulitis a few months back. What bacteria caused it? If you don’t know, it is imperative you find out before surgery. Let me know as soon as you find out.”

“You need to see an infectious disease specialist before surgery. I forgot to mention this last night. Primary care people and cardiologists don’t always know the most current stuff as it is not their field. Infectious disease is a highly evolved and fast moving specialty. Seeing one may save your life.”

“The important question is has it reached the bloodstream in any way. You want to also know where it is hiding in your body. Frequent colonized sites include the nasal passages, the armpits, the groin and more recently the vagina and rectum. These areas should be swabbed and cultured. This is why I am imploring you to see an infectious disease specialist. It would be awful to survive the surgery and then die of MRSA sepsis or MRSA pneumonia. The surgery you will be having is highly invasive and therefore puts you in the crosshairs for an internal MRSA infection – which will be extremely hard to treat if it is possible to treat it at all.”

So I am seeing my PCP today to acquire a referral to an infectious disease specialist. Of course, the problem then becomes when can I get an appointment with the specialist, and can we get the results back in time for me to have surgery on the 26th.

Meanwhile, I never realized how much paperwork is needed to take care of making sure that the people I want taking care of things for me while I am in the hospital, or after I die, will be able to do so. I have printed out a will, and a statement appointing one person to be responsible for my remains, and I have made sure my Medical Power of Attorney and my Advanced Directive are in order. Now I have to get copies made, and – in several cases – round up people to do signatures in front of a notary.

Of course, while I am doing all of this, I found out that Nelnet had somehow not notified me that it was time to re-apply to keep my student loans deferred, and that it’s also time for me to recertify for Medicaid, because if I don’t do that in the next few days, it will come up while I am in the hospital.  I did the Nelnet certification yesterday, and will do the Medicaid stuff this evening, since I need more documentation for that than for the Nelnet stuff.

The two bouts of cellulitis threw things off a bit, but things are now back on track.

My dentist, the wonderful Dr. Lawrence Wang, of Madison Square Dentistry in Manhattan (call me if you want a referral – he can even x-ray me without problems), squeezed me in for today. When I got there, he noted that I didn’t need a root canal, which would have thrown the schedule off even more, just a deep filling, which he did along with a cleaning. With the dental work out of the way, I was able to call the surgeon’s office and get my heart surgery scheduled!

The date for my heart surgery is, as of this moment, March 26th, 2014.

Yes, I’m scared. I’d be an idiot not to be scared. But I am hoping that this will give me back my life, or at least some portion thereof, so I am also very excited!

I’ve also seen the neurologist, although I will now have to move the appointment for the nerve test since I will likely still be in the hospital on the March 31st.

So, that is where things are at for the moment, and I am delighted that I will finally be making some real progress on getting my life back.

To be specific, I’m in Beth Israel Kings Highway Hospital, Room 161, Bed 1.

I woke up Sunday and my left leg was bright red and very warm. Called Naomi Moslow, who came over and agreed with me that it was cellulitis. I was gonna wait until Monday and go see Dr. Bilik. However, by suset, the leg was also 3 times its normal size, so the roomie and I called a cab and headed to the hospital.

The infection seems to be fighting back this time, which sucks because I cannot have the open heart surgery until this is thoroughly kicked to the curb. The one good thing about this, so far, is that they finally figured out that I am mildly allergic to vancomycin, which is why my legs blister and peel every time they give it to me.

The bigger problem is that if I am an infection risk. Then I cannot have the surgery until that risk is eliminated. My other news, that I was planning to blog, but that got pre-empted by this mess, is that I met with the surgeon, we hit it off, and have tentatively planned the surgery for end of March/beginning of April, to allow for some dental work I need done to get handled first, since a post-operative infection could kill me. Fortunately for me, Dr. Bilik, my primary care guy, is as determined to get this handled as I am.

I am, therefore, guardedly hopeful. I am also not rushing to get out of here. I don’t love hospitals, but I will stay here until we have gotten this sucker licked. I have to. My life quite literally depends on it.

Calls, visits, and emails are welcome, of course. They are the thing keeping me from just curling up into a ball and giving up. That is the hardest thing for me – to not lose faith that this will all be resolved. There are good days, of course, but there are also days when it seems like I get one thing handled, and two more things pop up to replace them. I will get through this — those of you who know me in RL know how much of a defining trait stubborn is for me.

Anyway, the nurse needs me to help another patient get computer access (I must look like a techie geek), so I’ll cach up with everyone later.




This past week has been full of snow and medical appointments.

The snow, of course, makes it pretty much impossible to do anything via public transit for me. However, the surgical consult was set for Tuesday, and there was no way in hell I was putting that off given that snow was predicted for both Monday and Wednesday.

Made it to the consult and met Dr. Stelzer and his nurse practitioner Laurita, as well as his lovely receptionist, Cathy. We had a good talk, and I have convinced him that I should have the surgery. He thinks my attitude is great, and that I am something of a force of nature. Called the cardiologist on the way home, and he told me he thinks I’m brave. I don’t get that, honestly. I’m not stupid. I’m scared to death about having my chest cracked open. However, all I’m doing is what is necessary; I don’t see it as particularly brave.

One thing is that I may need some dental work done, so that has to be gotten out of the way before  have the heart surgery. The reason for this is that if I have it done after the surgery, and I get an infection, it could kill me. I also now have to take an antibiotic an hour before I go to the dentist to prevent infections from happening. We are looking at doing the heart surgery at the end of March/beginning of April, in order for me to get the dental work out of the way.

This is all a whole new world to me, having to take precautions for everything, but if it will maximize my chances of pulling through it, it’s what I have to do.

In order for the dentist to do his thing, however, I had to get a clearance in writing from my primary care guy. So, when I got home Tuesday, I called my primary care and got them to squeeze me in for Wednesday, so I could get the clearance, and also a referral in writing for the neurologist I need to see about the possible development of Cubital Tunnel Syndrome in my hands, and of a non-diabetic neuropathy in my legs and feet. Made it home before the snow, but think I may have picked up a cold in his waiting room. Such is life.

Other than that, I’m still hanging in. I ordered and received a hula hoop, which I plan to use to do some low impact exercising with. My outlook is reasonably good, all things considered, and I’m trying not to overthink things, lest I eat myself alive with worry.

So that’s where things are at right now. It feels kind of like hurry up and wait at some levels, but there is forward movement, and it’s real forward movement, so I am grateful.





I’ve wanted a Magic Bullet blender since I first saw an ad for it on late night TV, but the time was never right to buy one. Either money was tight, or I couldn’t find it on sale. Found the NutriBullet on sale at Sears a couple of weeks at, and ordered one. This is their latest innovation, which pulverizes nuts and seeds.

Had my first “green smoothie” about two days ago. It was pretty good once I got over that I was drinking something green. I used spinach, an apple, some grapes, some blueberries, and about 1/8 cup of cashews. Stuffed the spinach into the bottom of the cup (filled it halfway with the spinach), added the other fruit, then put in water until the “Max” line, per the instructions. Put the blade on the cup, put it into the base, and about 30 seconds later, I had my drink.  Tasted pretty good, although a bit bland, but then I didn’t use any sweeteners or anything to amp it up.

Today, I tried something else. Took a packet of the Weight Watchers Smoothie Mix (Creamy Coconut), and added a banana, a pear, and a bit less water than called for. It’s pretty much perfect tastewise. Very happy!

In other news, my primary care guy was as good as his word. Last Wednesday, the cardiologist called me with a referral to a surgeon. I have made an appointment to see him (next Tuesday), and will update you after that. I know I’m not a good candidate for surgery at this point, but what I want to talk to him about is the following:

  • What needs to happen to improve my chances of being a good candidate for the surgery I need (septal myectomy),
  • What are the complications and risks that accompany that surgery, so I know what to put on my Medical Power of Attorney and my Living Will in case things go pear-shaped, and
  • What the probable/possible outcomes of the surgery are.

While I am, in reality, not close to getting the surgery, the good thing is that it feels like there is real progress happening, so I am in a much less hopeless frame of mind.  Even better, should this surgeon not work out for whatever reason, a friend of mine who is an RN has found me two other names to check, one of whom even takes my insurance. She also suggested that I might want to check out AARP re dental insurance, and that way I could possibly have my old dentist, who I adore, back. I just did that, and I now will have real dental insurance as of February 1st, at a price I can sort of afford. I also have a dental appointment for February 5th. So there’s some real progress to point at!

I have made peace with the decision about the toxic family member. As I noted, it was a horrible decision to have to make, but I feel so much better for having made it. I’m feeling a lot more hopeful than I was a month ago; at least I am today. I have to admit, this whole thing has been something of an emotional rollercoaster, which is what has been the hardest thing to deal with. I can deal with not being able to go out a lot, even though there are days when I feel trapped in the house. My friends have taken steps to make sure I get out a little each week, so that’s helpful in fighting that feeing off.

Anyway the upshot is that I’m still hanging in, still in fighting to get things right mode, and fairly happy at the moment.

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