Here’s the story of the last month with Chris. I’m Chris’s wife and business partner, Sarah.
December 1 Chris was fine.
December 3 he was wheezing so I talked him into going to a walk-in clinic. (Chris does not have a regular physician. He’s not crazy about going to doctors and certainly wants to avoid an ER in a pandemic. He just eats well and exercises and tries to stay healthy. Seemed like it was working.)
At the clinic they gave him steroids and antibiotics. They said he had pneumonia. We went home and he rested. When his ankles started to swell we just wrote it off to the side effects of the steroids. By day 9 I had had it. I took him back to the clinic. He was not better. Something was amiss.
They did another x-ray and an EKG. They came in and asked us if we wanted them to call an ambulance. Chris had to get to an ER, FAST!
We spent 7+ hours in the ER while they stabilized him. He was in full Afib. His heart rate was 150-160. He could have a heart attack or stroke any minute. He was admitted.
They worked for a week trying to stabilize him. They made some progress but not enough. On December 23 they decided he had to be transferred to St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. They put him in an ambulance and off he went.
I packed up me and the cats and found temporary housing. I arrived Xmas Eve.
Chris has been in that hospital ever since.
After a few days his Afib started to get better. Eventually it actually stabilized! His heart rate is now down to about 85 -90. Higher than this normal but not bad. Trouble is Chris is in congestive heart failure. Only 10% of his heart is currently working. They are floored that a guy who seems so healthy is struggling with this. It’s a shock to all involved.
When the heart loses power like that you don’t really have much chance of getting any of it back. You have to resort to technology. They talked about putting in an LVAD. That’s a device they implant in your chest that beats your heart for you. It has leads that come out of the chest and it’s attached to a battery pack. You wear that forever.
Before they can put in an LVAD they have to make sure your body is otherwise healthy enough to handle major surgery. They do lots of tests on major organs to make sure they can handle it.
This is when they discovered Chris has kidney cancer. BIG surprise. He has no symptoms at all. He has no family history. He is not obese, a heavy smoker or have high blood pressure. Folks who have those things are candidates for kidney cancer. Not Chris. He’s shocked us all again. This cancer is called a silent killer. Most folks never know they have it until it’s stage 4 and too late, so maybe this actually has a positive side. At least a bit.
His cancer is stage 3 in one kidney and stage 2 in the other.
Before they can put in an LVAD they have to get rid of the cancer.
The operation for the cancer is very tricky because his heart is so weak. But they had to do it.
Chris came out of the operation with flying colors.
They took out a large portion of the kidney that had stage 3 cancer. His right one. They didn’t have to take it all. At first they thought they would. The operation went long enough that they had to stop so they didn’t endanger his heart. So they still have to deal with carving out the stage 2 cancer from the other kidney but they will let him heal from the first surgery first. The second one won’t be until after Valentine’s day. That’s the surgeon’s joke. He wants Chris to be able to take me out for the evening. The way he’s going he just might be able to do it! He’s improving every day. It’s been touch and go but he’s on the mend.
If you want to be in touch with Chris I suggest you click on the well wishes section above -- for now. We are trying to keep his email from being overwhelmed. Chris will know soon how to check this site so when he feels up to it he can communicate with you all. Thank you very much for caring and for checking this out. I hope to hear soon that Chris will be able get out of the hospital for a period of recovery before his next surgery.