Monday February 18, 2019 started out as a typical day. Unfortunately, it did not end that way.
After dinner, Randi decided to go up to our room to lay down. She has been hobbled, for the past 4 weeks, by a broken pelvic bone.
Once upstairs, she screamed down to me that she felt weird. She felt really funny. I ran upstairs to find her kneeling on the floor clutching her chest. I ran back downstairs to retrieve my phone and dialed 911. The paramedics arrived in 5 minutes or less. The first thing they did was perform an ekg which told them that Randi was NOT having heart attack. There was something that looked strange so they transported Randi to the Hospital.
Upon arrival at Condell Hospital, the attending physician, Dr. Towle, performed the same ekg and was given the same result…No Heart Attack.
By now, Randi had begun experiencing sever back pain. Dr. Towle told us that she was suspicious of a pulmonary embolism. She sent Randi down for a CT scan of the Chest. The results came back – No Blood Clot.
Dr. Towle then said, with the back pain now severe, that she needed to do a more dedicated CT scan – this time focusing only on the heart because the back pain was indicating a possible tear (dissection) in the Aorta. Again Randi was sent down to MRI. This time the test showed that Randi indeed did have a problem with the aorta.
There was a dissection (tear) in the Aortic valve where it protrudes from the top of the heart. Surgical repair was necessary and urgent. We were told, by a nurse that this repair would, hopefully, be completed through the groin in the same manner that an angiogram is performed. We were calmed by this news.
Over the next several hours, Randi’s blood pressure spiked repeatedly to 188 / 100. ICU would not approve her for transfer with these numbers and the OR would not sign off on surgery until her blood pressure was stabilized at 120/80. It took a while, with the use of a couple of different medications, to get it there but it got there.
Randi was transferred to Intensive Care where we were to meet with the thoracic surgeon. He came in at 7:15 AM and told us that Randi would be having open heart surgery due to the location and severity of the tear. At 7:20 Tuesday morning, with only a few moments to process the information, Randi was prepped for, and wheeled down to, the operating room.
Over the next 9 hours, my wife was operated on as the surgeon, Dr. Kummerer, found the tear in the crescent and descending portion of the aorta, an aneurism at the portion of the aortic valve that attaches to the hear and a diseased aorta. The entire aortic valve was replaced including the portion that attaches to and enters the top of the heart. After 6 hours, we informed that the procedure had concluded and the staff was waiting until all of the bleeding (normal) stopped. They worked for the next 3 hours trying to stop it but could not. The decision was reached, at that point, to take her back to her room in ICU, leave the chest open and fill it with a special wound vacuum dressing. She would stay that way, overnight, until the bleeding stopped and then she would be taken back to the OR where she would be closed up.
Thank G-d, everything went as planned from that point on. Wednesday morning I was informed that the bleeding had stopped. The plan was to take Randi back in to surgery at 12:00 – 1:00 to close her chest. It actually took until 3:30 PM for them to be able to take her but, when they did, everything went as planned. She was returned to her room at approximately 7:00 PM with her chest cavity closed and all vital signs looking good.