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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Recovery From Cardiac Bypass Surgery: Day 17

Got up early today to accommodate our plans of going to the hospital in the morning. We left the house by 8 AM and got to the hospital by 8:30 AM. We asked a clerk there about the tests we had been asked to get done, and he quickly directed us to the appropriate places. The blood-draw was quite quick, but they said the results would be available only around 2:30 PM. Next we went to get the ECG done. Once again, this was also quite quick, and they produced the results in a single-page printout right-away. We were done by 9 AM.

What followed was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. The cardiologist could not be contacted because his cell phone was switched off. So, we waited, and we waited. Finally around 9:45, the cardiologist was reached. He told us that he would not be making it to this hospital today, we were asked to meet him at his clinic the next day. That was a bit of a let-down. Then my mother went and met the personal assistant of the head surgeon (the one she had called up three days back to find out the procedure for the follow-up visit). But she told us that my father would not be able to meet any of the doctors at the hospital at that time because he was the patient of none of them.

Essentially, as far as this hospital was concerned, once the patient came out of the ICU after surgery, the surgical team's responsibility to him was pretty much over. After that, we had been visited by our cardiologist a couple of times in his private room. The surgeon paid him a visit only once in the private ward outside of the ICU. So, there was really nothing we could do at the hospital at this point. But we could collect the blood test results only in the afternoon, so we couldn't go back home either (it was just too inconvenient to come all the way back from home just to collect the results). So, we decided to leave the hospital and go stay at my cousin's place while we waited for the blood test results to be prepared for pick-up.

Once again, I told my mother we should have just gotten the tests performed closer to home, and met the doctor at his clinic instead of wasting our time, effort and money making this long trip between home and the hospital. Once my mother makes up her mind, it is very difficult to convince her that she is wrong and somebody else was right. This has led to several arguments between her and other people, including me. My mother made a feeble attempt to justify our visit to the hospital this time also, but I could see that she admitted, at least to herself, that it had been a mistake. At the very least, I told her she should have gotten explicit instructions during her conversation with the surgeon's personal assistant whether a visit to the hospital was necessary or not if we could make other arrangements to meet my father's cardiologist. Hopefully, this episode will save my parents some trouble during follow-up visits in the future.

When I reached my cousin's place, I found these weird insects running around near the entrance to their apartment building. I have no idea what these insects are and why some of them are attached to each other back to back. Perhaps, some entomologist can look at these pictures and decipher what is going on!

We had lunch at my cousin's place and rested for a while. Only my cousin's mother was home. His children were in school and college, his wife was at work and he himself was out of town on business. Finally, at 3 PM, we left my cousin's home and stopped by the hospital to collect the blood test results. We went to a counter labeled Reports, but were asked to go to a nearby counter labeled Billing. After playing musical counters for a few minutes, we managed to get the results at last. The blood test results were quite normal in pretty much all parameters. My father's iron was a little low, but that is a common condition for him, and it was only marginally below normal levels. In particular, his urea, creatinine and other parameters that reflect on kidney function were normal. So, we all breathed a big sigh of relief as we headed back home.

Even though we could not meet the doctor today, I decided to stick with my plan of leaving tonight because the blood test results were so benign. Obviously, I did not know how to interpret the ECG, but most of the numbers on it (such as the phases, QT, QTc, QRS duration, etc.) were very similar to those on an ECG taken on the 12th of July, about a week after the surgery. If those numbers had not prevented my father from being discharged a few days later, I did not see any reason why those same numbers would cause much alarm to the cardiologist now. My mother was also quite confident that the visit to the doctor would be quite uneventful and did not want me to disrupt my plans just to get that taken care of.

I spent the rest of the evening and night calling up and wishing many of my relatives goodbye. All of them were nice enough to at least say that they would support my parents in case of any problems after I left!

After dinner, my parents and I sat and chatted for a while. My flight was just after midnight, and I had already called a taxi to pick me up at around 11 PM to take me to the airport. The taxi arrived a little early, around 10:45 PM. I bid goodbye to my parents and asked them to stay brave and confident. The taxi driver drove quite adventurously and got me to the airport quite early. I could have asked him to slow down a little bit, but I was just fascinated by the way he swerved in and around traffic to maintain his high speed! I guess I should be glad I reached the airport safely rather than becoming a statistic in the next day's newspapers!

And the adventure was only just beginning as far as my trip back to the US was concerned. I guess my luck with air travel of late deserves its own post. I consider it all part of the grand adventure that life is. When people around me (such as my wife and kids) have their travel plans disrupted because of my luck, though, it does not feel much like an adventure. Unfortunately, such is life...

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