Traveling South, Bearing Gifts

Heart rocks and poem copies for caregivers packed, I travel south with Glen and our small pooch Mackie for Brigham and Women’s in Boston. Today involves pre-op and COVID testing and a meeting with Dr. Kaneko. We will meet our daughter Katie at the pet friendly Residence Inn a twelve minute walk from the hospital. There Glen and Katie will occupy a suite while I am otherwise occupied.

We arrived in Boston with time to spare so we checked into the hotel leaving our pooch Mackie in the comfort of the hotel and walked to 45 Francis Street for labs and other testing. Just for clarification it was a 20 minute walk, and I was reminded as we moved quickly along and I puffed, why I am getting this done. Labs completed, we walked hastily over to 70 Francis Street to meet Dr. Kaneko in person for the first time. He was very nice, direct and reassuring. Having looked at my CT scan, he was more convinced than ever that the minimally invasive approach from the right side through the ribs was best for me. It turns out that our hearts do not lie straight on in our chests, they pivot slightly with the left side closer to the back. The mini Thoracotomy results in good access to the mitral valve. Upon my query, he graciously told me that he did not think a frontal approach with a sternotomy would make the repair any easier or result in a better outcome, which relieved me greatly. However, Dr. Kaneko did caution me that my overly long leaflets put me at higher risk than average risk for a complication called systolic anterior motion (SAM). Basically when SAM occurs, the leaflets misbehave badly and get in the way of the blood flow into the aorta. This would not be an acceptable outcome. If SAM occurs, Dr. Kaneko has strategies in mind to address it, but it also means I also have a higher than average possibility that my mitral valve may have to be replaced with with a porcine valve. Naturally, I am hoping he can use my own body parts, but the most important thing by far will be for me to have a durable repair. I do not want to do this surgery again anytime soon.! I have confidence he will use his skills and experience to deliver the best results for me. I gave Dr Kaneko one of the loveliest heart rocks we collected this summer. He seemed moved and promised to read the poem before surgery. He said he would be sure to have it in his scrubs when performing surgery tomorrow. I told him I would be passing them out to the surgical staff on the morrow. I hope it will be a nice “thank you” for their care dedication during an especially challenging time to be in the medical field.

Katie arrived in good stead from NY having submitted to two COVID tests ten days apart and quarantining since the first one. Glen has his negative COVID test results in hand as well, all required because we are not Massachusetts residents. While it was not easy to get the tests and meet the requirements, we are actually most grateful for the caution. This evening we will order in take out, and will all hunker down for the big day tomorrow. I will be FaceTiming with our son Alex, daughter-in-law Keya, and grands Vaila and Lachlan. That will be fun! A big part of my self help for this surgery is casting myself forward to family events, once I am better and COVID subsides. I am scheduled to arrive at the hospital at 7:30 AM and surgery will be at 9:30 AM. It should take about 5 hours. Either Katie or Glen will keep the post up to date once they wheel me away.

Have a nice evening!

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