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Thank you all for your encouragement and support.  It is now just a matter
of rehab.  Getting a bit better every day is something I can handle.  

The following is off topic and may upset those like me who think the
"Operation Channel" is gruesome.  I promise to go easy on details and not
to do it again.  

I got out of surgery on Tues. in record time.  Operation at 7:00, awake in
Cardiac ICU at 12:30, sent to the 'step down unit' at 4, where they had me
up for a 50 ft. walk by 7.  I was pronounced a Rabbit, someone who bounces
back up.  Another definition is someone who "pinks up" rapidly.  The guy
in the mirror looked pretty pale at 1 and almost normal at 4.  I am a
surgery novice, having had only very minor stuff like tonsils before. 
While I felt far better than I had expected, this is not to say that it's
easy.  They put a tube down your throat to keep the airway open.  It has
to be carefully threaded through the vocal cords so as not to cause
permanent damage.  The anesthesia contains something to dry out your mouth
and airway and I woke up feeling more thirsty than I've ever been and
could not dent it with water no matter how much.  Soon the water came up,
and I got my first explanation rather than just - do this.  Two things;
the anesthesia does not clear your system for 24-36 hrs. and can easily
make you sick, and they deflate your lungs before working on the heart, so
there will be room.  I'd been given a device called an 'inspirometer' and
simply told to use it.  You inhale through it and a little ball floats up.
 The idea was to keep the ball between the hash marks if you could.  I
could but it hurt.  After clean up of the mess, the step down nurse told
me 2 things that the inspirometer does; it reinflates the air sacs of the
lungs and it also speeds the anesthesia out of the body, making you feel
much better.  I began using it every few minutes and wishing someone had
told me that beforehand.  If they ever give you one of these things, use
it.  It makes a huge difference.  This answered a question from student
days 40 yrs. ago.  "Why do we have to study Fick's laws of diffusion, what
good are they?

And now for smurfs.  I had the enormous advantage of electing the surgery
so that I could be strong and prepped with a drug regimen going in.  I
hurt for the people who have to go in as an emergency after a massive
coronary.  I met a bunch of them.  They gave me amiodarone which slows the
heart and greatly reduces the risk of  fibrillation.  When you do surgery
on the heart it gets irritated and can fibrillate.  Amiodarone takes a
long time to build up in the body so they started giving it to me 5 days
prior at a high dose.  It has a truly alarming list of side effects and
one always wonders whether they are real or CYA put in place by lawyers. 
It is photosensitive and exposure to direct sun can lead to the skin
turning blue/gray, known as Smurf Syndrome which 'may be permanent'. 
Those with very fair skin who burn easily are at especially large risk.  I
will be taking this stuff at a stepped down dose for 10 days following
surgery.  My wife thinks it's funny; "How many blue people do you see
walking the streets?"  

Ever have bruised ribs?  I used to get them all the time in martial arts
and it can be agonizing.  You can't sleep on one side for a month. 
Breathing causes pain which causes the muscles to spasm, which causes
worse pain, etc.  You can barely breathe.  This is the way it was in the
beginning on that first walk.  I thought I would pass out.  The nurse told
me I had done great.  If I could have drawn a breath, I'd have shouted
bullshit.  Instead I just went back to bed and asked for a dose of the
pain medicine.  This is some powerful stuff.  You can feel it hit your
brainstem like a wave as soon as they put it in the IV.  Recovering a bit
I saw an old man from a nearby room taking a walk like it was nothing and
asked why.  She said; "You don't see any chest tubes sticking out do you? 
When your tubes come out tomorrow, you'll feel 1000x better."  The tubes
drain fluid (I'll leave it at that) that collects between the lungs and
chest wall during surgery and they are big - like 3/4" diameter.  They
swab you with alcohol and then just pull them out (gently).  It feels
weird but doesn't really hurt.  No stitches; they heal themselves from the
inside out over the next few days.  30 min. later I walked 3 laps around
the building and felt fine.  This amazed me.  I had steeled myself for
agony when my nurse for the new day came in and said, "We are going to get
you moving today.  I want you _MOVING_."  She would have scared an
infantry platoon.  At the end of the day I thanked her profusely.  I had
walked 5 or 6 times and felt great and had been given the green light to
go home the next day, the 3rd morning after surgery and just about a
record.  I'm up to walking about 1/2 mile around the neighborhood 5 times
per day as of today even though I still need the pain medicine and a nap
afterward.  Somebody order that Oct. snowstorm for me.

Denis

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