An Aortic Adventure, Part 4

30 10 2008

I neglected to write about Fr. John coming back to the ICU on Monday morning on his way to Florida.  He gave Jim Holy Communion.  I visited with his wife and four children in the lounge area.  His Bishop had asked him to fill in at a parish in Florida on October the 12th.  Fr. John and his wfe thought it would be a good time to have a few days of vacation. The life of a parish priest is very demanding.  I was glad that Fr. John and his family would have some time to relax.  Jim requested a time of confession before he took Holy Communion.  Jim told me later that Fr. John told him that his suffering was his confession. 

My friend, Hope, who was with me on Monday was reminding me last night that Jim was able to impart spritual wisdom to her while he was in the ICU.  She was amazed how Jim could relate certain scriptures for her encouragement while he was in such a critical state.  I had never given it much thought  until Hope reminded me of that special time. 

I had related in my last post how Jim was waiting to have a heart cath test done.  He was awakened at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning to take a special antibacterial bath in anticipation of that test.  They had special cloth wipes that he was to wipe his body down with.  I woke up when the nurse came in with this assignment for JIm.  I knew that he was not able to do his bathing very well.  Thus, I got up and bathed him in preparation for his test. 

And because he was to have this test–he was back on a broth and jello again.  We waited all day.  Finally, around 6:00 p.m. –the transport team came and got Jim.  I rode down on the elevator with them.  I had to wait in  a special waiting room.  About an hour and half later the cardioligist came and talked with me.  Jim’s “widow maker” artery was 70% blocked.  The doctor told me that actually that could be treated with medicine but since he was already going to be opened up–they would proceed with the bypass.

Sandy called me while I was in the waiting room to tell me that her church had prepared a large bag of goodies for surgery day.  They also asked Sandy and Rob to stand up  in front of the church for a special time of prayer for our entire family.  I was very encouraged by this tremendous act of love and giving.

Also– late Wednesday evening, the vascular surgeon came and told us that he thought it was possible that he would be able to do some prep work up near Jim’s neck and shoulder for the surgery on the descending aortic aneursym.  He explained that he would be making a little mesh tubing that had something to do with proper blood flow.  If Jim had needed surgery on his descending aorta alone–he would have had to be cut in the chest and in his side.  So while Jim was being opened in his chest–this work would be done.  He said that he knew Jim was not strong enough to have the second part of that surgery done.  That surgery would possibly be done in about six weeks.  He also told us that if it looked like Jim’s life was at risk–then he would not do the prep work at all.

Thursday was a day of rest for both of us.  Yes, nurses were still in and out every hour checking on all of his IV’s and his vital signs.  However, Jim requested to be sitting in a chair.  They brought in a recliner for him and Jim enjoyed sitting in it all day.  We were so surprised when Fr. Stephen from Franklin, Tennessee came around 10 a.m that morning.  He visited with us for at least an hour.  He offered so much encouragement to us.  After he left–my friend, Hope, came for another visit.  She took me out for lunch again.  Finally, in the early evening–Jim’s supervisor from his factory came for a visit.  He brought a card with cash from all of JIm’s co-workers.  As the evening ended–Jim and I talked about how blessed we were to have so many visits from priests, family and friends.  My brother and his wife also came to visit for awhile that evening.

All the visits were welcome distractions from thinking about the upcoming surgery.  The heart surgeon also came to talk with us that Thursday evening.  He explained once again all that he hoped to accomplish but he also told us that if Jim’s life was being threatened –some of his goals would be put aside.  What a day it had been for both us.  I was exhausted and slept very well. It is very ironic that I slept better in the hospital than I do at home. All  throughout the entire week nurses were in each hour but I slept through most of it. 

Once again–Jim was awakened at 4:30 a.m. to take another special bath in preparation for surgery.  I got up and bathed him.  Our son Ben and his wife arrived around 6:30 a.m.  Ben had not been able to get back to the hospital and was very anxious to arrive early to have some time with his dad before he was taken to surgery.  I thought back to all the years that Ben was aloof to both us.  Ben always thought we loved the girls more than hIm.  I was grateful for how his inner wounds had healed.  For many years now , Ben has wanted to spend time with Jim.  All during Jim’s week in the ICU–Ben and his wife called daily to get the latest reports. 

Jim didn’t have to much time to vist with Ben and Linda before the transport people came.  We all took the elevator down to surgery together.  We had a few more minutes with Jim before they took him off for final prepping for surgery.  We had some special moments of kissing, hugging and praying.  I honestly didn’t know whether I’d ever see Jim alive again.  

We went to the first floor lobby which is also the surgery waiting place.  In our little nook– we registered in with the person in charge–who just happened to be a fellow parishioner from St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church.  She was such an encouragement to us.  The rest of the family arrived.  I had all of my children and their spouses with me– except Maria’s husband. Maria’s husband had to get back to work –as he is in the trucking business. We took a moment to explore the “goody” bag from Sandy’s church.  Then we decided that it would be better for us to wait in the 5th floor waiting area.  That is what our heart doctor preferred.  Everyone was keyed up.  We knew that we would be receiving a phone call when surgery was beginning.  That phone call did not come until 9:30 a.m.  Finally, we learned the first incision had just been made.  I kept wondering if Jim was strong enough for another long heart surgery.  I wasn’t panicking but I wasn’t able to concentrate very well on anything.  I kept wondering around the waiting area.  I was the first to answer the phone for other families.  It was going to be a long day.




2 responses

2 11 2008
Frugal Trenches

I keep praying for Jim!

4 11 2008

Frugal Trenches,
You are a real encouragement to me!


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