Jul 19, 2019 Latest post:
Aug 20, 2019
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.
So, how did this story start? On Tuesday evening, July 16th, Don followed his usual routine of heading to the gym after his long work day ended. While he was in aerobics class, he felt increasingly short of breath with pain in the left side of his neck and weakness in his left arm. Don left class early. He was scheduled to meet a friend for dinner, but called him to say he wasn't feeling well. After meeting at Don's home, Don told Mike he was feeling increasingly lightheaded and even more short of breath. Thank the Lord for Mike, his friend! He strongly encouraged Don to go straight to the hospital, even though Don insisted on driving himself.
Once at St Peter's, the emergency room team was preparing Don for ultrasound to determine what was amiss and then....his heart stopped. Not a heart attack but cardiac arrest. Again, what an incredible blessing to be within arm's length of a crash cart! The team at St Peter's was swift in doing CPR and eventually providing external cardiac and lung support. A visit to the cath lab showed no blockages and no sign of heart attack, but Don was not responding to treatment.
Once in ICU, Don was fully sedated and supported by a ventilator and impella to keep his blood pressure from dropping through the floor. It was only after the diligent Dr. Larson did a TEE (ransesophageal echocardiogram) that the culprit was identified: the mitral valve had failed. The failure was allowing blood to flow backwards in the heart, putting enormous stress on the lungs and overworking the heart muscle.
Consultation of the ICU team led to the conclusion that Don would be best served at a higher level of cardiac care, notably at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill facility. Dr. Christianson, the pulmonologist, was frank in pointing out the high risk of moving him. However, Don was moving toward the exit sign of life so the doctor elected to do the transfer. Airlift Northwest's team prepped him for the short flight and two ambulance rides (first to Olympia's airport then from Boeing Field).
As soon as he arrived at Cherry Hill, Dr. Youssef quickly determined emergency surgery was needed. Around 1:30 AM on July 19th, Don had new mitral valve placed to replace the one that had literally blown apart.
Healing and recovery will be a long process but Don and his entire family appreciate your prayers and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.