That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 28 (The Consultation and Small Breakdown Chapter)

October 17, 2012

I think this is a picture of one of those machines that pumps the blood when your heart isn't doing it.)(Photo Credit:
I think this is a picture of one of those machines that pumps the blood when your heart isn’t doing it.)
(Photo Credit:

It’s Wednesday night, so the heart story continues.

Continuing my saga –

I had a consultation with my heart surgeon in January.

Since I had a very rare defect, I got the Chief of Cardiac Surgery on my case. (Boo-yah.) Dr. Vlahakes is a lovely surgeon. He’s personable and funny. He really takes time to make sure all of his patients are comfortable, and that we understand what’s happening. He had models of the heart and drew me a great picture of it all. He told me about his kids. We had a lovely time.

I don’t remember if it was at this appointment or at a different time, but I was talking with one of the doctors about the fact that my heart would be stopped and I thought it was hilarious conversation.

“So, you’re going to stop my heart?”

“Well, the blood will be still be circulating.”

“Okay, but my heart will be stopped?”

“The blood in your body will keep circulating through a machine.”

“But my physical heart itself will stop beating, yes?”

I never did just get a straight yes to that. I won’t credit Dr. Vlahakes with dodging the question, ’cause I can’t remember if it was him or not. I think it took place in the hospital, so I’m gonna go ahead and say I think it was a different doctor.

Going back for one second to my hospital stays leading up to open-heart surgery for two tidbits I forgot.

I think I said earlier in this story that I didn’t cry all that much while in the hospital and that is true. I can only remember three instances of crying throughout the whole thing. (Perhaps I am remember myself in a better light than what really happened, but I think there were three.)

1) The time I cried in pain from my ulcer. (That one’s already been mentioned.)
3) A time after open-heart surgery (which we will get to).

And the second time I cried was this one.

After I found out I was going to have open-heart surgery, and while I was still in the hospital for the procedure before that, I heard from my family that I was going to get a cavalcade of people.

No, no, no, no, no. That’s not acceptable. I can’t handle it. I cannot.

I had certain family members being extremely insistent. I put that on lock down immediately.

I started saying things such as “I can’t prevent you from coming to Boston, but I am allowed to put my room on a no visitor’s list, and I promise you I will do it.”

Commence breakdown. No one was listening to me. Some people thought the best way to treat a sick person was their way of treating a sick person – which was to be all up in the sick person’s space.

One of the hospital social workers even came and talked to me… Oh boy. I was crying a fair amount. I accidentally scared my doctor ’cause she thought something was physically wrong. All the stress just flooded me at once.

Again, not upset that I had to have surgery – upset at all the stress that results from being a patient.

(Photo Credit:
(Photo Credit:

People did eventually cool off, stand down, and everyone agreed to respect my wishes! (dances) No one came to visit me. And truly, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I wouldn’t have been able to handle having anyone else there. But we’ll get to all that post open-heart surgery stuff soon.

One last note about pre-surgery stuff before I forget – hospitals are always asking for your religion when you’re admitted. This is so a minister, rabbi, etc. can come talk to you. (They explained that to me when I was curious about it.)

One of the weeks when I was in the hospital, I was all, “Send in anybody who wants to talk to me! I love learning new things about the world around me – that includes religions. This could be fun and pass the time.”

I didn’t really learn anything new. They’re not there to teach so much as they are to comfort. So, it was sort of a bust in that sense. It was also slightly embarrassing in a time when Stephen was visiting and a Rabbi came to say hello. Stephen kind of looked at me. Yeah…. um, I’m not Jewish. I just wanted to make new friends with this Rabbi…


The Rabbi was very nice though.

(The story continues next week.)

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