Bypass surgery behind us

Friday, April 18th was a good Friday for our family. Steve went through five hours of bypass surgery and 24 hours later, he was sitting in a chair – albeit tethered to more monitors than on the deck of the Starship Enterprise – chatting with the nurse and experiencing very little pain from the 12 inch incision running down the front of his chest.IMAG0561

The whole concept of bypass surgery is mind-boggling to me. The doctors who developed the procedure definitely thought outside the chest cavity. How did a doctor make the leap to come up with a technique that harvests (love the use of that verb in this context) veins from the legs and grafts them to the heart? It sounds incredibly far-fetched yet somehow and thankfully (!) it works.

The only anomaly that the surgeon encountered during Steve’s surgery is that he has unusually small arteries; I think “spindly” was the word the doctor used to describe them; our daughter thought it was more fun to tease Steve about his “dainty ladylike” arteries. The doctor said that arteries the size of Steve’s are generally only found in very small women or certain ethnic populations. If Steve has Filipino blood somewhere in his heritage, it’s going to come as a big surprise to his Norwegian relatives in North Dakota.

The doctor wanted to bypass five arteries but because of the size issue with Steve’s pipes, he was only able to do three. A triple bypass versus a quintuple bypass? Unless Steve is competing for points in the Bypass Olympics, he is fine with just three.

Steve came out of the anesthesia somewhere between three and four hours after surgery. Because Steve was a surgical tech in the army, he has had a lot of experience with the various and sometimes wacky ways that people react when the anesthesia wears off.

I think it took every fiber of his being to do this, but he was determined to stay rational and calm as he came to. If he hadn’t just gotten through such a serious operation, it would have been downright cute. He spoke each word separately and deliberately…and sort of gravel-ly because of the breathing tube that was just taken out. The result was that he sounded a lot like Peter Boyle in “Young Frankenstein.”


Hmm…maybe grafting body parts onto other body parts, does bring out the Frankenstein in us. Onward to recovery!

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