Medical update on Cecil Van Houten #4
01.26.13 | | Comments
2 Questions - Your FAQs
Written 14 hours ago
Medical update: Thank you for your continued prayers. It's funny, usually we pray for change - in someone's health, or for a relationship or a difficult situation. My prayer, and yours if you would join me, is that things will stay the same. I'm in a good place physically in all regards and what's most important is to stay in that place until a transplant occurs. God bless you for your ongoing prayer support, cards, emails and Facebook comments.
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Many people have sent emails or written here on the Caring Bridge site inquiring about hospital life, what it’s like to wait for a donor, what we do day-to-day, etc. I’ve tried my best to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. I hope this is helpful.
1. Do you get out much?
Well, we’re free to walk around on the 7th floor which has several units on it, all dedicated to cardiac care. However if you leave the floor, like to take a quick spin down to the coffee shop in the lobby, it gets real ugly, real fast. I discovered that one of the first nights I was here. See, when you’re first admitted they introduce a liquid tracer into your bloodstream through an IV. What? They said it was saline solution? Uh-huh. Here’s the deal. It was developed by the CIA at Bethesda in the ‘90s. The electrolytic chemicals detect the difference between baseline and tangential forces (measuring relative altitude by changes in pressure). It’s accurate to +/- three inches. So, if you leave the floor it puts out a silent pulse that tells them where you are, like a chemical LoJack. Then the fun begins. A SWAT team is sent out. NORAD is notified. The country immediately goes to Defcom 3. All entrances and exits are locked. Tasers are set to full force. No one’s ever been able to confirm this but rumor has it that in one incident a few years ago they actually woke up the President in the middle of the night to advise him. If none of those things work they bring out the ultimate enforcer – the old lady from the Life Alert commercials. You know, the one who scolds “Every senior citizen should have Life Alert.” This is worse than looking over your shoulder and seeing the Terminator chasing you. She looks harmless but let me tell you, that old bat has a wicked right hook.
2. What were the holidays like?
They were fine. On Thanksgiving Connie stopped by her folk’s house and brought up real, authentic turkey dinner with all the fixings. Christmas was nice. I wasn’t able to get the maintenance guys to put a tree up on the roof below our floor – some bogus argument about pilots confusing it with the runway lights at the airport. But some wonderful friends gave me an old-fashioned ceramic tree with the little lights that filled the room with soft color. New Year’s Eve Connie stayed home (no reason to be on the roads then) which allowed me to ring in 2013 in appropriate fashion with a 6-DVD set of “The Three Stooges”. Connie was glad she stayed home…nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
3. How many roommates have you had?
As of today, 20 and counting. They’ve all been short term – only in for a day to a week. So far I’ve had…
One who called out bingo numbers in his sleep. It took a couple nights to figure out how to get him to stop – I’d wait for him to call out several numbers then I’d say “Bingo!” from my side of the room. Worked every time.
Another dropped more F-bombs in three days than I heard in the entire seven year run of ‘The Sopranos’.
One made amazingly gross noises during the night, like a very large mammal with digestive issues. Serious digestive issues.
Another was particularly chatty to the extent that I was Googling “temporary insanity plea”. I acted as though I was very hard of hearing which eventually discouraged him.
4. Some people have trouble staying “regular” when they’re in the hospital. Do you?
And thanks for asking that. No, I’m very “regular”, every morning at 7 sharp. Only problem is I don’t get up until 8.
5. I understand you’ve become part of a group known as “The Poker Guys”. So how’s that going?
Poker Guys? Nope, never heard of them. Are you from the IRS? Could I see some I.D.?
6. How’s the hospital food?
Choices, choices. Beef medallions with Diane sauce or steamed fish with ginger, lime and lemongrass. Oh wait, that was on “The Barefoot Contessa”. Well, it’s never going to get three Michelin stars but the variety and quality of the food is surprisingly good. Inaccurate orders and missing items are another thing. Still, it’s an opportunity to try new things like tofu stuffed ravioli. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Just as soon as I finish drinking that can of paint thinner.
7. Do you get bored?
8. Are you able to go to church?
No. The only religion here on “the Rock” is science, baby. (Not really.) But there aren’t enough nurses available to accompany us down to the chapel for services and we aren’t allowed to go down by ourselves (see #1). There is an in-house closed-circuit channel that feeds internal programming like that throughout the hospital but every time I tune in they’re playing stuff like ‘Childbirth in HD’, ‘Anatomy of a Boil’ or ‘Parking Garage Tips-The Speed Bump and You’. (Look for the Director’s Cut on the last one, it’s much better.)
9. Are there any new innovations in hospital care?
The rent-a-catheter program is going very well.
10. How long will it take to get a heart?
Ahh…that’s the question. No one knows. I have a good friend whose family owns a concrete business in Jersey. He has…connections. When he heard I needed a heart he said I should have called him first – he could have had 2 or 3 for me to choose from by noon. (Hat tip, Gary)
Here are some quick stats – for real. In any given year there are over 4,000 patients nationally who are waiting for a heart; at the same time about 2,000 hearts become available. Why the disparity? Two main reasons. Most donor hearts come from trauma victims but because fewer people die of trauma-related injuries these days (due to safer automobile design, increased use of seat belts, shoulder harnesses and helmets, etc.) there are fewer hearts available. Along with that the percentage of the population that signs up to be organ donors has remained flat for many years.
Then there are a number of factors unique to each patient; the blood and tissue types have to match and the surgical team must be assured the new heart will function well with the other organs. The heart has to fit in the recipient’s chest cavity; height and weight should be similar. There’s also proximity; the donor has to be reasonably close to Rochester since the length of time from when the organ is harvested to when it’s placed in the recipient can only be a few hours.
11. When will you be back at Family Life?
After the transplant and recovery period and just as soon as the FBI completes its sweep of my office to check for things that might blow up, catch on fire or smell really bad. If you knew the people I work with you’d understand. Oh, and clowns. They have to make sure there are no clowns.
12. The Mayans predicted the world would end on December 21, 2012. Did that happen?
What do you think? Obama 2.0 (also known as 'Clinton/Cuomo' 2016') just got underway. William Shatner is reportedly girdling up for a cameo in the upcoming 'Star Trek' film. And horror of horrors, Beyonce lip-synced the National Anthem at the Inauguration.
Of course it happened.
(Here's your tip for the week: life is lip-synced. Think about it.)
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