Sep 15, 2019 Latest post:
Sep 13, 2020
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Mid-August Chad caught a cold. Fever for a couple days, felt lousy, congestion, cough, etc. Everything you expected from a typical cold. Although Chad did say later that he felt chest pressure the first night he ran a fever. He felt better after a couple days although his cough persisted. He continued to have shortness of breath and coughing which got progressively worse. We all assumed he had bronchitis or pneumonia. On Tuesday, Sept 10th - Chad made an appointment at the clinic in the nearby town of Belle Plaine. His normal doctor in New Prague didn't have any openings for a couple of weeks, (He didn't go on Monday as the 9th was his 44th birthday and "It's unlucky to go to the doctor on your birthday.") The doctor in Belle Plaine, listened to his heart and said "You have a heart murmur and your heart is racing." They told him he needed to go to the ER at the hospital in New Prague. Chad drove the 20 min home and then I drove him to the ER. When he arrived at the ER his heart rate was 175. His oxygenation levels were good. They got his heart rate down and stable enough for transport by ambulance to the Rochester Mayo ER. I followed a little bit later. A lot of waiting in the ER. Did an echo of his heart - doctor joked it was "the poor man's echo" which is much more basic version of the full blown echo-cardiogram that he would get the next day. His heart was in AFIB. Gave meds to keep his heart rate down and moved him to the observation wing of the ER. I left about 9:00 pm to go back home and get the kids squared away.
Wednesday: When I returned about 8:30 the next morning - his breathing had become very labored and was on oxygen. His oxygen levels continued to drop and was given the full echo which took almost an hour to complete. The results - Chad was in congestive heart failure with 10-20 lbs of fluid around his heart. There was some fluid in his lungs. But the big headline - he had a ruptured mitral valve. The mitral valve is the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart. The left ventricle is the chamber of the heart that pushes the blood out the aorta to the rest of the body.
We were then admitted and moved to Cardiology - (East Tower - 4th Floor for those that are familiar with Mayo.) Chad continued to deteriorate throughout the day. Breathing became very labored. More tests to determine the best surgical path. I stayed overnight in the room with Chad. It was very hard for Chad to sleep. Lots of visits from the nurses, a lot of alarms going off. etc.
Thursday: Chad's breathing progressively got worse. Before surgery, a cardioangiogram and a transeophageal echo (TEE) needed to be done. However, Chad couldn't lay flat without coughing and breathing become even more difficult. We were then moved to the 7th floor ICU where they were able to more aggressive with treatment. They were able to do the test they needed early evening. Brad, Chad I then met with the surgeon, Dr. Greason. Good news - no heart disease, no blockages, no excessive plaque buildup. We asked if his virus had weakened his heart or had his heart caused his flu-like symptoms and he said that there was no way to tell until they were in surgery. The best path forward was to hopefully repair his own valve and if that wasn't possible, then replace his valve with a mechanical one. Surgery was scheduled to be at 7:00 AM on Friday morning.