Welcome, family and friends, to David (Jack's) CaringBridge website, which we are using to keep family and friends updated on his progress towards a healthier heart.
Katie's mom, Cindy, was kind enough to get this site up and running, after keeping multiple circles of friends and family updated with all of Jack's fast-changing developments with his heart condition. She wrote Jack's 'story' below (thank you, mom!), which provides an overview of the dizzying sequence of events that have occurred over the past month. Katie will continue to provide updates as things progress in the daily journal, and boy are they are progressing fast!
We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. We have been so comforted and humbled knowing that so many people are keeping us in their thoughts and prayers. They really have helped carry us through this process so far, and gave us the encouragement we desperately needed when we first heard the news about Jack's heart condition. Thank you all!!
~David Jack's Story~
Just a month ago, life was full of the normal post-holiday busy-ness for Jack, Katie and their family - Megan, Andrew and Andrew's girlfriend Ally. All that changed in early January. Jack was shoveling snow when he experienced severe chest pains and shortness of breath.
He'd been having increasingly frequent (but less severe) chest pains for several months, depending on what he was doing. Jack just turned 39 in December, is physically fit, has no other troubling symptoms and otherwise feels healthy. But genetics were also in play. His father (also Jack) had heart disease, passing away in his early 50s.
With a ski trip to Colorado planned for late January, he agreed it was time to see someone. Obviously they didn't want to risk the remote possibility of being on a mountaintop if he experienced a true medical emergency.
To be on the safe side, Jack scheduled a telehealth visit on Thursday, January 7, and after describing his symptoms the doctor asked him to immediately come into the clinic to complete some testing. At the clinic, Jack had a stress test/stress echocardiogram done so they could look at his heart under stress, and they scheduled a follow-up appointment with a cardiologist to review the results the next day. When Jack met with the cardiologist, indications were that he had severe coronary artery disease with potential blockages in all three main coronary arteries. He and Katie were stunned.
Things moved quickly. Jack was scheduled for an invasive (surgical) angiogram the following Thursday, January 14, to confirm the extent of his blockages. If only one or two of the arteries were obstructed, the surgeon would likely place stents to open them, and Jack would be on his way.
Unfortunately, there were at least three obstructions/stenoses, with two of them being 70% blocked and one of them being 100% blocked. The doctors said they are fairly certain there are additional blockages, but were unable to determine how many due to poor visibility caused by the main artery blockages. When Jack awoke, he was told he needed coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
Jack had a surgical consultation on Wednesday, January 27. He learned that the CABG surgery would take four to five hours. They'd be grafting blood vessels from smaller arteries/veins in his chest area, arms, and/or legs, depending on which coronary artery was being bypassed at the time and how many bypasses are needed in total (to be determined during surgery).
Hospitalization would be five to seven days, after which he'd continue his recovery at home. The total recovery time will be 12 weeks, and he and Katie were thrilled to hear that he should be able to return to all the life activities he enjoys now. The cardiologist did warn him, though that he might not feel completely like his old self up to a year after the surgery.
It's not great news, but it could have been so much worse. Thank God that they didn't ignore the warning signs and fly to Colorado Anyway. That they found the problems before they became emergencies. That so many advances have been made in cardiac (and other health) care. That he's young and strong and in otherwise good health. Thank God for the long and happy life still ahead and for all the prayers and good wishes being sent on his, Katie's and their family's behalf.
Update: With the complexity of his condition and the inherent risks of open heart surgery, even under the best of conditions, Jack is considering whether to see the opinion of a second cardiologist.
If you would like to send a card, their address is 8798 Fountain Lane N., Maple Grove, MN 55311.
- heart 4 Hearts (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jack.aka.david.whiteley#
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