Jeff’s Story

Site created on September 28, 2020

As some of you may know, Jeff Hamilton is undergoing an open-heart surgery this Thursday.  While he is expected to make a full recovery easily, we know it is a journey that will span several weeks that invites the love and support from his family and friends. This Caring Bridge page will be the fulcrum of news and periodic messages surrounding this event.  

Below is a short Q&A we developed to provide you with the basic information many of you will want to know.  Please feel free to ask questions and we will give you the answers as soon as we are able.  Thank you for your love and support for Jeff!


Q&A (In Jeff’s Own Words)

THE CONDITION

1.     Why are you having heart surgery?
I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve instead of a tricuspid valve.  About 1/3 of people with bicuspid valves need a repair or a fix.  It is a routine procedure.  The valve will either be repaired using my own tissue, or replaced with a biologic (porcine or bovine) tissue valve.  They won't know which procedure they do until they open me up.

2.     What is the condition you have?
Aortic regurgitation due to a malfunctioning aortic valve.  The good news is my heart is otherwise in good condition.  No underlying heart disease, plaque or blocked arteries.  Purely a structural issue.

3.     Is there anything unique or unusual about the surgery?
No, this a routine surgery performed thousands of time a year.  My surgeon has done over 500 of them.

4.     Is this hereditary?
The bicuspid valve is congenital.  The condition occurs in 1/3 of people with a bicuspid valve.


THE SURGERY

1.     What date are you having your surgery?
October 1st, 2020

2.     Where will it be done?
CPMC Medical Center at 1101 Van Ness (a brand-new facility).

3.     Does the surgeon have a particular specialty that suits your case?
He has a specialty in the repair of valves as well as in replacement.

4.     In what hospital will you be recovering?  Is it a particular unit? 
CPMC Medical Center on Van Ness, 1101 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109; phone: 415-600-6000.  I will be in the heart recovery unit.

5.     Can you have visitors?
I am allowed one visitor a day as I recover in the hospital.  It will be my sister Sarah.

6.     Can you receive cards, flowers, etc.?  To what address can they be sent?
Due to COVID, the hospital says that cards/flower/etc. should be sent to the hospital ER.  ER will contact the heart unit to be picked up and delivered to me. 

7.     What is the best way to communicate with you as you are in the hospital?
Via this Caring Bridge page.  If you want to privately send me a communication, send me an email from within Caring Bridge and it will be forwarded to my personal email.

8.     Will you be taking phone calls?
It depends on how I feel.  If I can I would love to.  Please be patient as I have no idea what state I will be in.

 9.  Will you be reviewing emails or texts?
Yes, although intermittently.

 
RECOVERY

1.     When do you anticipate coming home?
I will be in the hospital between 4-7 days.

2.     How long will your recovery be? 
2-3 months until I am eligible to go back to work.  It takes 4-6 months for a full recovery.

3.     Will you be able to receive visitors?
No.  However, I do have a team of friends who will act as on-site caregivers in the early stages of my recovery.

4.     If I want to send a gift, to what address can I send it?
As I recover at home, you may send anything there.

 

Newest Update

Journal entry by Jeff Hamilton

Hi all,

 

Jeff here!

 

Please indulge me in this rather long update.  At the very least, it will distract you from worrying about the election.  ; )

 

Yesterday marked the one-month mark since my open-heart surgery, which I find amazing. I’m sorry it has taken me awhile to reach out. It went so fast!  And I’ve been a bit overwhelmed.

 

First of all, I want to thank you for your support via this platform, as well as via  texts, calls, emails, visits and cards.  I’ve gotten food, chocolate, a book, clothing and even a puzzle!  Not to mention great lists of shows to binge watch. THANK YOU!

 

I will confess that when I decided to use Caring Bridge it was more for efficiency’s sake—to get the word out in one place. As an independent person, I was not focused on needing a lot of support.  However, support is what you all provided and indeed very much what I needed.  Just the awareness that you were there made a huge difference that morning, at 5:30am, October 1st, when I walked in to be prepped for surgery.  A surreal and terrifying moment.

 

People have been asking me “how are you doing?” and my partly-joking reply is “I’m not sure, I’ve never done this before.”   But from what the doctors and nurses are saying, I am doing very well.  I did not expect to be up and active so quickly.  They want you walking twice a day.  My motto is “do what they tell you to do.”  I’m getting home physical therapy and home nursing.  I’m now completely off pain meds, which seems like a miracle, considering.   I’m doing social outings and (safely) hosting visitors.  My chest is sore, but not the sharp, burning pain from before.  I am surprisingly busy with walks, managing meds, doctors appointments and getting myself fed.  And, of course, getting a good night’s sleep.  Day by day I am getting stronger and my endurance is going up.  I see my cardiologist in one week, so I will get his updated view of my progress soon.  Updates to follow.

 

I want to thank Dr. Glenn Egrie, my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, Dr. Greenberg, as well as the many nurses, orderlies, PT people, nurse’s aides and other healthcare providers.  Every one of them was compassionate, kind and knowledgeable.  Yet another example of how much the quality of our lives depends on the kindness, and expertise, of strangers.

 

While it varies widely, the estimate is it will take another 1-2 months to get some normalcy back in my life, and another 3-5 months for full recovery.  I will need to be patient, which is not my strong suit.  I have been counseled by some of you, who have been down this road, not to rush things.  I am following this advice.

 

That's all for now.  Thank you from the bottom of my (recently repaired) heart for all your love and generosity.  I am deeply grateful and so very honored to have each of you in my life.

 

Love,

 

Jeff

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