PFC

So here we are, a brief account of where we are so far as I have kept things out of the general populous as I wanted a close family of mine to get to hear personally and not through social media.

Back in May of this year so I went to get my prescriptions renewed at the local walk-in clinic in Nanaimo. We have been unable to find a family Dr since moving here, not that we are the only ones, I read something like 25,000 people don’t have a family Dr out of a population of over 100,000.

During this visit the Dr asked if I had a family Dr, nope, I replied, to which he responded, would you like me to take you on, of course, I jumped at the chance.

He asked me to make an appointment for a couple of weeks for a meet and greet as well as a general physical and bring 58 years old he did a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and said he found my prostate “smooth, but slightly enlarged” yeh I laughed as well when I told Jenn.

My Dad had an enlarged prostate, also called Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) this is when the prostate grows larger, usually due to age, but is not cancerous. This is often why men, as they age, often end up getting up in the middle of the night to pee.

So along with the standard setup of blood work, he had a Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test done, this came back at around 13, the norm is less than 2, so he referred me to a Urologist.

I was expecting to wait a while to get a call from a urologist, so it was a surprise when a week I got a call to go and see one, Dr. Carlson. I met with him and he also did a DRE, starting to get used to other people poking my butt now, he also said it was enlarged, smooth, with a ridge down one side, yes you can expect such details in this blog journey, maybe I will need to put a warning on it.

The prostate is about the size of a walnut and if you know what a walnut looks like it has a ridge all the way around, hope you are reading this after you have eaten, so that was the vision in my head, a walnut with a knobbly ridge.

We chatted and he asked some family history, told him about my dad, so he felt we should test another PSA after 3 months and again after 6 months and see what it does, he gave me a standing order for a PSA test I then left slightly worried, but with having in my head a lack of Cancer in my family, I was thinking I had what Dad had BPH as this can also elevate your PSA, which is why the PSA test is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to diagnosing.

Around the end of July I booked myself in for another PSA test, this was on a Monday, you can check your results online, which I did on the Tuesday, 15.8, it had gone up, not the direction I wanted, was not sure if the Dr would be calling me so when Wednesday and Thursday went by I thought it was still a watch and wait.

On the Friday of that week, Jenn had taken the day off and we decided to take a drive, down to a lighthouse in the Sooke area and also explore some beaches, but just as we were about to set off the phone rang, it was the urologist, not the admin assistant, but the man himself. He explained that as the PSA had gone up 2 points, he said we should do some more investigation and wanted me to have a biopsy, he said the hospital would be in touch.

I was expecting to wait a while to hear about all the cancellations being reported for surgeries etc. but nope, Monday morning hospital calls and I and scheduled for August 25, 2021.

So there we have it, the start of the journey, but at this point, I should add that as I post this I am having surgery today to remove my prostate, I know it’s like jumping to the back of the book, but I will be adding some more details of the biopsy and the decision making process along with the steps to recovery.

Voltbike Yukon 750

Well, my new bike arrived, it’s a eBike, Voltbike Yukon 750. This is a first pre-review, there will be some further reviews

Great looking bike, ordered it on June 14th, but took almost 3 weeks to get here, Voltbike maybe busy, but they need to set better expectations when it comes to delivery and better way to handle calls and emails.

On June 25 I was told by George, the owner, that my bike would be shipped on Thursday, June 27 and I would receive a tracking number, this did not happen, nor did it happen on Friday, despite an email being sent in the afternoon.

As it was a long weekend in Canada I had to wait until Tuesday to call, after leaving the morning for them to redeem themselves, the phone call was interesting in that their computer system does not seem to keep tracking of the ordering process and as to where a bike is in within. long story short, by bike was on the loading dock waiting to be picked up, I got the tracking number a few hours later.

The original ETA for the bike from the shipping website was July 4th, looked to start as if that would be the day, then as things usually go for us in Grande Prairie, the date suddenly to July 5th, which puts it tight for the weekend.

1 Year On

So this is Jenn and I on a 5km run this evening, sadly I lost the details of the run on my watch as I forgot to save it.

This time last year I thought I had a bad chest cold that was causing me to be breathless going up the stairs at work and home.

A few months later I was under the knife having quadruple heart bypass surgery, what a difference.

Getting There

It has been 14 weeks today since I had my bypass surgery, on one hand it seems such a long time a go, but on the other some of it feels like yesterday, just looked at my watch and they where probably about to cut me open at about now, well as I type this. It has been a long process and no amount of reading could prepare me for the mental part of the procedure, in one word it has been brutal and if it was not for Jenn, along with family, friends and co-workers, I have no idea how I would have go to where I am. Having said that after a few weeks of thinking I was over the hump and truly getting there, I crashed, the mask fell off and I could feel myself going down hill fast mentally, my stomach went crazy, the little sleep I was getting tanked, my focus at work became that of a fly.

I was able to get in and see Brad, my Doctor, right away he was amazing and gave me something to help with my stomach, something to help me sleep, of which I have not taken any, and also said to take a couple of weeks off.

Carol, my sister, had said I had gone back to soon and I had to agree with her, so went into work right away and gave them my note.

In the middle of the first week Jenn and I talked about her trip to Victoria that was coming up and the idea that I come out with her came up, we had enough WestJet dollars, so we agreed it would be good for me to get away to somewhere I really enjoy being.

So it is now Wednesday, we arrived Monday, and I feel good, it has relaxed my mind I don’t spend half the time pondering what could have happened, I still get flashbacks to going into the operating room, but they pass by quickly and without the intensity they had.

I was actually a little worried how I would feel here as the last time I was getting chest pain and even made a doctor’s appointment while here. Just walking up from the inner harbour to the Irish Times would have been doubled over in pain, I am really lucky that I did not die while I was here as my blockages where really that bad.

So now, I am able to walk up Government with a rapid pace, complete with backpack loaded with laptop, Kobo and iPad, ok now iPad this time, but I do have a book in there as well as a book, which I was supposed to read but have not.

We have also been to the Irish Times, our favourite place for drinks, food and atmosphere.

Ward Pt II

**I had written this post a while back but slipped into the “not blogging” state of mind and so I have wrapped this one up for anyone out there who is following.**

Monday 6:15am, door to room opens and light goes on, its Dr Lam doing her rounds, she checked my leg and incision and said things where looking good and if things went well I could be looking at heading home on Wednesday, well out of the hospital, she wanted me to stay in Edmonton overnight which I was totally ok with, just meant I would be out.

I spent the day trying to walk as much as I could, I had tried later on Sunday without the walker with great success, so opted to park the walker and set off once I a while for a walk, well part from being tied to the bed once in a while while I got a bag of magnesium.

Jenn was working today in the hospital, so I wandered around the healing garden for a while and went back for my wonderful beef stew.

Honestly was not as bad as I thought, in fact I found the food was in general ok.

Spent the afternoon resting and walking.

There is one thing that has been a constant in the hospital, lack of sleep, I just could not get a full night, mostly just napped through the night, and I spent a good chunk tossing and turning, listening to music and watching The Handmaids Tale as Jenn had said it was good and a new season was starting, so better catchup.

I downloaded a good number of shows thinking I would have time to watch, turns out not really, despite the sleepless nights it was hard to concentrate.

“Knock knock”

It was around 6:15am and it was Dr Lam nice again.

She is an amazing Dr. with great bedside manner, she did a quick check of my chest and leg and asked how I was feeling, “aside from tired, feeling not bad” she proceeds to tell me that I am doing great and she is going to discharge me today, Tuesday March 6th was now a red letter day. She asked me to stay in Edmonton over night to which I had now issues too.

I texted Jenn, although this was actually. little problematic as Jenn had planned a bunch of meetings and training as the original plan has been for me to leave on Wednesday, anyhow we worked it out and I got excited to being getting home.

They said they wanted to give me one more bag of magnesium, so they hooked me up and I set to finding a hotel for the night, I wanted a suite as I figured I would be up in the night and did not want to disturb Jenn, so we ended up at the Doubletree in West Edmonton.

The next few hours where showering, meeting with the discharge nurse, eating, meeting with the pharmacist and getting my pillow, then around 2:30 this showed up

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I was then told I could go!! Do I need to use the wheelchair I asked? Not if you don’t want to, so Jenn and I headed out. I should add that Jenn had done a trip to the car already with the stuff that I had. So very slowly we walked to the car, had to stop once and sit down, but I did make it and got to the car.

Once at the car we made some changes, removed the head rest on the passenger seat as I had to sit in the back and did not like the view, push the passenger seat all the way forward and put down the arm rest in the back.

Getting in the car was much harder than I expected, I was still in pain in my chest and leg, it hurt getting in and out for a while.

So off we went, discharged and moving on to the next part of my recovery, we arrived at the hotel and Jenn then headed out to pick up my meds while I rested and took a shower, my torso was a mess, between the chest incision, drainage tubes and pacing wire holes I looked like I had been attached.

 

So that was it, after a restless night hardly sleeping I woke up and opening the drapes to a wonderful sunrise.

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This was me, given a new start just like a new day and I planned to do my best to eat well, stress less and exercise way more.

Thanks for following along.

 

 

“The Ward Pt I”

So here we go, with an IV pole between by legs, a porter pushing and Jenn packing all my personal belongings, we headed up to the ward. This is the place I would be staying until my discharge, so you could say it was step on to discharge.

The Cardiac Ward is pretty large with various sized rooms, I hit it lucky and ended up in a semi private room with an older lady called, Pat, I have changed her name to protect her privacy. Pat was quite chatty and was looking forward, at that point, to the company as I knew Jenn has a fair amount of work to catch up on and would not be around all the time.

So Saturday March 3rd I went for my first walk after the surgery on February 28th, and it did not got well!

When you are on the ward you wear a mobile telemetry box which monitors your heart rate etc. being mobile it means they can monitor you when you are walking around, which is something they want you to do. So I asked Jenn to help me up and with my walker we set off got a short walk, just to get a feel for my new gadget.

As we passed the monitoring station my room we can see on the monitor that my heart rate was very high, around 150, my nurse, you are still assigned a nurse but she also has a number of other patients, anyhow she took me back to my room and got my to way down so she could take by blood pressure, which was very very high, so high I was seeing star Burts in my eye. They gave me some meds and told me no leaving my room for the rest of the day.

I was little upset by this as it was another setback, remember I still had the whole Afib going on as I was waiting to get another Carioversion, but Jenn calmed me down and we settled in for the rest of the day having a good chat with Pat, who was for sure in a worse way than me!

That night was my first night of sleep since the past Tuesday, and felt so good, Jenn showed up early as was told it was very unusual for visitors to arrive so early, I did not care, I wanted her around me as much I could.

I had not been allowed any food or drink after midnight as I was going for this Cardioversion at some point, we thought it would be in the morning again at last time, but 10am came and went, noon and lunches came and went, 2pm came and went and and around 3pm I was fit to be tied and said to Jenn I cannot do this, I need food as it was no close to 24 hours since I had had anything to eat or drink, aside from a little water for my pills in the morning. Then a little after 3pm I was told I was going down to get this done, as mentioned they do it in ICU, make sense they are going to shock your heart.

This time it felt like a whole procedure unlike the previous day where it felt like it was an ad-hoc thing, I am sure it was not, but that is how I felt, I the day before I had felt the whole thing, this just felt different.

The first scare was that they looked at the time I had gone into A-fib and they had to do some checking as it was more than 48 hours after I had done into this A-fib thing and it looked like I mat need a echocardiogram before they would do it, delaying it again, once again my rock calmed me down, but they came back and said nope we are good to go, the procedure was going to be performed by Brad and the rest of the nursing team, I really felt much more relaxed this time.

As the first Carioversion did not go well for me being awake they decided a bit of a stronger drug was needed to knock me out, so Ketamine it was, and boy did it work. As I came out I had a whole space themed trip with combo of Star Trek, Star Wars as well as, oddly, Star Wars Lego, I was floating around what seemed like lego ships and I was moving between them, they where mostly white, and sometimes behind them I could see a brick building that was white with white windows.

Slowly I start to come out of this an could see multiples of the same faces, these where nurses and Jenn, slowly everyone started to come into focus and Jenn was there with me again, soothing me and calming me as she let me know that it world this time and my heart was beating as it should. I actually as of now do not remember getting back to the ward from ICU.

I can see how people could get addicted to these drugs, they are powerful and can take you to a place that could be better then you are physically in at that time. WOW.

Eat, oh man did I eat when I got back, I was so hungry, they are saved some of my lunch and added some extras.

So heart now beating as it should it was time to starting with this walking with the goal of getting out a soon as I could, I was done and all I wanted was by own bed along with a decent nights sleep, as much as I wanted this, I knew I was still in the best place I needed to be at this time.

 

 

UP and Down in ICU

It has taken me a while to get back to the blog, I have just not felt the urge to write anything and only now, 10 days after surgery, starting to feel human again.

So I thought I would give you are quick update of what went on after my surgery, Jenn did a great job of what it was like for her during the hours of the surgery, so here we go.

I came out of surgery around 6:30pm on the Wednesday, but do not remember a thing until around 3:00am when I remember waking up in ICU and throwing up, I remember saying to the nurse it was probably drinking to much water to quickly, but I do not remember actually drinking the water.

I felt I was in out of sleep then for a few hours, until I heard the familiar voice of Jenn, she came over and I have never been so happy to see my wife as I did at that moment.

The time in ICU was not a pleasant one at all, I guess it’s not supposed to be or you would not be there, but with 3 drain tubes and a catheter in, plus 2 main lines one in my write and one in my neck, then the tubes from the IV machines beeping and bonging, an oxygen tube, then all the monitoring wires it was impossible to get in any comfortable position. On top of that the businesses of ICU added another reason for me not really sleeping the whole time I can remember being in there, it was loud a noisy all day and night, there was also a very distressed woman in the room next to me who would scream and shout every 2 hours. So not mediation, music or podcast could penetrate that.

Overall the ICU nursing where amazing, truly dedicated to their job of looking after, in this case, me. At the press of a button help was there, like there quick, unlike upstairs, covered by another post, where it ring for a while, that’s what one on one during care gets you. As I mentioned to Jenn, there where times when I was laying in ICU where I was 100% reliant on other people, I would not survive without them, I was just like being a baby again, truly humbling experience.

So it was planned for me to move out of ICU on the Friday and just about the time I was supposed to I went into AFIB, this means my heart was not beating in a regular pattern, this is common after bypass and comes and goes, but mine decided to stay, so I was out in some drugs which was supposed to help but did not so they made the decision to do a Carioversion on my on the Saturday morning, basically they shock you heart back into rhythm, again something they do all the time. Even today it comes and goes at home, although it seems less and less, again just something that is common due to how much you heart was disturbed during the surgery.

Sometime on Friday I had a nurse checking my and suddenly asking for help, seems by blood pressure had dropped a lot, so was given some meds while a nurse also held my legs up high, very undignified.

Saturday morning came in they did the Cardioversion, which for me did not work, and although they said I would be out, I actually remember a good part of the process, which was scary. So they decided they would try again the next day, great I thought, another night in ICU.

Not long after the Carioversion the same doctor came around and removed my drainage tubes, holy, did that hurt. After she pulled them I said, “you did all three at once”, she said yep, if I did them one at a time you would never let me get to number 2!!

As I was laying there waiting for Jenn to come back and noticed someone writing on my door, it was glass, not sure what it was and when Jenn came back she could not figure it out either. Shortly after my nurse came in and let us know that I was getting out and over to the regular ward and they would just bring be back to ICU to do the Carioversion sometime Sunday morning, wow, talk about making one feel good, it was a high, was getting out of ICU things where looking up.

So at around 1:30pm on Saturday afternoon, after a towel bath, I was wheeled up to the ward that I would stay in until by release. yay.

D Minus 3 – The Nitty Gritty

So today is the nitty gritty of the procedure, the Mazankowski, the hospital I will be in, has an amazing resource on what to expect before, during and the all important after. This post will not be for the squeamish, expect some pictures and detailed explanation of what they will be doing to this body of mine.

So first off I am not actually sure how many bypasses I will be getting, I think the least is a triple so that means a vein from my leg, and I have always been told I have great legs, well I guess I will have a war wound now!!

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Although there are many slightly different slants on the surgery, in general they follow the same process.

Once in the OR the anesthesiologist will put me to sleep and slip and breathing tube down my throat so a machine will take over my breathing. For me this is probably the thing I am really worried about, I worry about coming around and feeling like I am choking, I have even told Jenn that she is to try and get them to take that out as soon as possible.

Once I am out they will start to harvest a vein, probably from my leg, called the saphenous vein, but it could be from my arm. The reason they need this vein is due to me needing more than a double bypass, they do this first so as to not have my chest open for to long.

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After everything is ready my chest will be opened and my sternum cut with a special saw, well I hope it is special and not a Mastercraft special from Canadian Tire!!

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The next part, I have read, is surgeon dependent and relates to being put on a heart bypass machine or not, often referred to on or off pump, some surgeons will choose to do the surgery with the heart still beating, while others not, hence the need for a machine. Right now I don’t know how mine will be done, I will let you know later.

A little more about the Saphenous vein, this vein is a vein and although it is the best one to use it still runs the risk of getting blocked down the road, this is where the healthy diet, exercise, statins and overall looking after oneself comes in to lower this risk.

The other bypass parts can come from within the chest cavity, the left internal mammary artery (LIMA) also the right internal mammary artery (RIMA) may also be used as a graft.

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So all this can take up anywhere from 3 to to 6 hours depending on how complicated it is as well as the number of bypasses.

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Once the bypass grafts have been completed it is time to reassemble by chest start with the sternum.

Now I have read on the Mazankowski they they are use a serious of wires to hold the sternum together while it grafts itself together, but just this morning I read that some surgeons have started to used plates and screws as they are more stable, it will be for sure question for my surgeon as to what he uses. I hope he is a good stitcher, kinda like my mom who was amazing at knitting things.

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The one on the right would be my preference as it seems more stable, but I have to trust what my surgeon says is best for me.

Once they have stitched the rest of me up and I will be moved to the ICU for a day or two, here I will have a full time nurse watching over me and giving me pain med as required, They say on the pain scale of 1-10 once it reaches 4 ask for medication as it is easier to treat pain as it is building than when it reaches its peak.

In ICU I will be hooked up to all the cool expensive monitors as well as have some chest tubes in and maybe still the breathing tube. I am not sure what they look for when the are looking at moving you out of ICU guess at least breathing on my own.

Once out of ICU I will probably still have my drainage tubes for a day but once they are out it is all about keeping moving and more and more each day.

I am determined to walk hard when I am in the hospital, following all the directions of the professionals who will be looking after me, yes even the physio. This is the best way for me to get out of there as fast as the goal is getting out of hospital get home, they say it can be anywhere from 4 to 8 days from surgery, I suspect not 4 and I hope not 8, so we shall see.

So there we have it, the process, obviously a little more than what I have posted, but it gives you and idea of what I will be going through starting on Wednesday.

Tomorrow the last day of work.

 

 

D Minus 1 – Pre Clinic

So today was all about the pre-clinic, a time to meet lots of people and lots of new information to take in.

We arrived a little early and struggled to find the place we needed to go, but eventually found the registration desk where we gave info and was given a restaurant like coaster they give you when they are full.

Eventually it flashed and we went to the clinic where the barrage of info started.

First in the anesthesiologist, not one I will have, but a good chatty guys who explained everything that would happen are part of his team tomorrow. He reassured me about the breathing tube and said it would be a none issue. He also explained what will happen when I arrive in the that I will be given a sedative, basically what I am on now for sleeping, but double…yay.

Next up respiratory therapist as they need to check my lung capacity and they then can they see how I am doing afterwards, well he was socked as basically I have a 120% lung capacity, go figure, guess it explains the loud sneezing.

The the nurse came in, who was amazing, she made us totally at ease, showed us a video, and basically reviewed all my info and totally explained what will happen and where we need to me and when.

We then met Dr. Lam she is the chief resident in the cardiac unit who went through the surgery bit and explained what they would be doing with various arteries and leg veins where they would be attached etc. Looks like a triple will be gong on, although she did say that does it always happen due to what it is like when they get in there.

She was very good at explaining the risks and it seems I have .9% change of not making it, pretty good odds I say, she also talked about resuscitation and if I wanted it, that was a no brainer, also would I want bloods products, another no brainer, I also used to be a blood donor until they imposed restrictions on who, and because i lived in the UK between 1980 and 1986, so they think I may have mad cow.

Nurse was now back with more info before we headed off to have some blood work done and head back to meet Dr Moon my heart surgeon.

Dr. Moon was great, basically saying that his job was to get me back to what I was doing before this all went down. He said if you goal is to run 10k, then there was no reason why I could not, travel, back to work etc. He was saying in 4 weeks if I want to start to get faster on the treadmill, then go for it. Just see this as a fix to improve quality of life and extend my life.

Next the nurse brought in a selection of chest binders, these help stabilize my chest to allow the sternum to heal, started off with a small, but I needed a medium.

All done, we decided we needed to find out where we needed to go tomorrow, eventually found it after a wander around the hospital.

By the time all this we where starving so we came back to our suite and then headed out to O’Byrnes for a beer and a snack, non alcoholic for me.

So tomorrow is the big day, BUT they did say it could be postponed and considering Dr Moon is on call tonight, we are crossing everything.

D Minus 2 – Travel Day

So today was my last day at work as well as a travel day to Edmonton, we where able to leave a little early and managed to get to the AirBnB a little earlier as well even going via the Apple store to pick up my Air Pods, my treat for going through what I am about to go through.

It was pretty emotional driving away from the office as I will not be back there for at least 6 weeks, so many projects left hanging, but we have a good team and I am sure all will be good.

We decided to have a treat dinner tonight and went to Chianti’s for dinner, a nice Italian restaurant on Whyte Ave, we have been a few times and have always had a good meal, they even had non-alcoholic beer which I was very surprised at being so good, never thought I would be doing that, but I guess that is going to my life for a while.

As we left the house it everything became real for Jenn, she has been, as usual, my rock and we have to be there for each other over the next few weeks as it will be has hard for her, in a different way, as it is for me.

So there we go, getting closer to the main event, tomorrow there will be a pre-op update as we get more details of the surgery.

D minus 4 – Up Your Nose

So today I started a regime of ointment up my nose today, something I was prescribed when I got my surgery date, the ointment is called Tara-Mupirocin and upon doing some research found it is to protect against getting a post operative infection, here is a good article that explains it. So anything that can help me be protected after surgery I am totally in for.

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Tara-Mupirocin

This is an addition to my other meds right now, never taken so many in my whole life, and I am sure they will change after the surgery, I am actually hopping not as I am coping well on these and if anything I would love to get rid of the Beta Blocker but on reading about other people it seems to be a lifer.

 

This is my last weekend that I can pretty much do what I want to a while now, so plan to make the most of it by cleaning the house, something that I will not be able to do for at least a good 4 weeks after surgery.

Up till now I have been more nervous about post surgery and the lifestyle change that is a head of me, although I am sure that even that will not be as bad as it is in my head, but my focus has started to think more about the surgery and the days after.

The last time I was in hospital as an inpatient, colonoscopy does not count as that was a day job, was when I broke my arm when I was around 9/10 years old, I know I was still at Boaler Street as I have memories of being at that school with a broken arm, So I think I have done pretty well, but man what a way to jump back in.

So I have been doing some reading on the surgery and I plan to make that a post for tomorrow, sounds like TV eh.? Post a tidbit to get you to come back.