Monthly Archives: October 2014

I’m alive (obviously). I’m back at home not enjoying my recovery time. It’s boring, I’m tired, I’m sore. I’ve been binging on “The Good Wife” for a while and my book on it will be hitting the bookstore shelves soon.


Shujie and I are living in a basement apartment because we see this move as temporary. I can’t go anywhere (my decision) until I think all is stable. On October 1st, Shujie, Elana, and I took the subway down to the hospital for the surgery. Weird. You used to go in the day before but everything changes. My mother and sister came later after I was “under the knife”. I’m sure it was boring as hell for everyone except me who was in la-la land. I didn’t see the surgeon before the surgery (elusive guys) and they had their way with me. The next thing I remember is waking up in ICU but I didn’t see much as my movement was limited. Shujie took some pictures but not enough but she may have had other things on her mind.

hospital 2 hospital 1

The surgery took about 3 to 4 hours and the plan was to replace the mitral valve, as it wasn’t working up to par. Within those parameters, the operation was a failure. I got gutted but the area around the valve was a disaster area (I picture Hiroshima) and he couldn’t replace the valve and sew me back up. He chipped away at whatever plaque he could and said to wait six weeks to see if I felt better. I wouldn’t feel as good as a valve replacement, but he thinks I should feel better. I don’t as of yet, but I’m patient. He told me that this was his Plan B however I didn’t know there was a Plan B. It’s nice to keep the patient in the loop.

I felt lousy and on the 3rd day I said, “I feel lousy”. The heart resident said, “what’s the problem” and I said I couldn’t breath. He said, “what are you talking about, you’re breathing. If you weren’t breathing you’d be dead”. According to him and the nurse practitioner, I would never feel any better than I did at that moment. What idiots. Were they in the operating room? I’ll stick with my surgeon and give it time. He’s the only one qualified to give an opinion. Except for those two bozos, the care was excellent. Everyone was kind, cheerful, and helpful and I have nothing but the highest praise for the staff at St. Michaels.

I didn’t eat for 8 days as my stomach was full of gas and other things that wouldn’t escape until I escaped the hospital. No morphine as they give you hydromorphone now since you don’t hallucinate as much. I prefer morphine. They are always asking you to tell them your pain on a scale of 1 to 10. I always said 7. The number is meaningless. I heard patients moaning and groaning and then saying their pain was a “2”. What’s the point of being macho. Be as comfortable as possible and get out of there.

I had a suitable amount of visitors. I didn’t have so many it tired me out and the hospital being downtown is not the easiest place to get to. I missed the baseball division series playoffs (a big disappointment but I really didn’t care at the time). The days dragged and I survived them. Shujie was like the walking dead after a while which is quite understandable. Having Elana there was great and it made it so much easier for me to be happy.

I have no idea if they do anything now and will have to wait about a month until I see the surgeon. The idea of living my life with breathing problems doesn’t exactly thrill me. I’ve been through so much and have always laughed and shrugged it off but I guess as I get older, it’s not as funny. I was never strong but I’m certainly not as strong as I used to be (either mentally or physically).

I have bouts of depression but they pass. This is new to me. I don’t feel sorry for myself because I know I’m at the bottom of the list of those to feel sorry for. But to be honest, I’m sick of this. I just want some day-to-day comfort in my life. I want to walk a mile without thinking I’ve just scaled Mt. Everest.

However, what it comes down to is whatever comes my way, I’ll deal with it. I won’t cry about it (except in the privacy of my own room) and I won’t make it any more difficult for Shujie, my mom, or my kids. The surgeon is convinced (like others before him) that I had rheumatic fever as a child and I’m starting to agree with those that say I had it. My mother doesn’t think I had it but if you’re a young baby with a high fever, you can’t exactly communicate your pain except through tears. So I think the cocktail of rheumatic fever and radiation therapy has done me in. My 2001 open heart surgery is doing wonderfully which is good since I have my doubts as to whether they could do it again. However, medicine changes quickly so who knows.

I miss my dad. I don’t know what I should miss him more now but I think it has something to do with the stability he provided just by being there. My mom is great but this is killing her and is so unfair. It’s not unfair to me, it just is. It is unfair to her because no parent should have to experience all this.

So I take this day by day. My chest hurts and it hurts to breath. However my six weeks aren’t up yet. Before this I thought having four open-heart surgeries would be a gas but on second thought, forget it. I just want to get well and resume my world travels. I love my family but I also love experiencing new life experiences.

The picture below isn’t as gross as it really looks. The double scar is kind of scary and I still can’t look at it for more than a second or two. But I’m alive, there is a future, I love some people and they love me. It’s not really so bad, is it?

surgery scars 2