Sunday, January 29, 2006

First dispatch from Tod's Dad, John, about Tod's surgery

Tod's surgery did not occur today as scheduled, and has been re-set for
tomorrow afternoon.

The hospital simply got backed up today. They didn't have space in the
recovery area for the patient who got surgery this morning in the OR Tod
was to got to, and the surgeon came to say (1) he didn't think he'd be
able to begin before 3:30, and (2) he had an evening commitment, and
didn't want to be rushed. So he recommended waiting for tomorrow
afternoon. Tod was all for it. At that point Tod was very tired of
waiting around. He'd been there since 8:30, it was now about 1:30, and
he was very hungry. Nothing at all had happened until about 10:45, when
they took him "into the back" and shaved him from chin to knees and had
him shower with antiseptic soap; then they hooked him up to an IV and he
waited. He was chilly, bored, and uncomfortable. Danesha sat with him
until Pat and I arrived about 11:30. Then Pat and Danesha went for
coffee, and Tod and I sat and talked about childhood injuries, sports,
and other manly things. A nurse popped in from time to time to say "any
minute now", and then Dr. L came with his news.

So Tod decided he wanted a great big hamburger, and we all went to
Porters Grill downtown for a good late lunch. Then T&D went home and T
slept. Pat and I went to the NC State Arboretum, and had a nice walk in
the garden on an unseasonable beautiful day. Lots of trees and shrubs
in bloom, and we were particularly impressed by the Japanese apricots.
They bloom heavily here from December through February; when one
generation of blossoms gets frozen, more come along to succeed them.
They smell good, and come in colors from white to intense magenta.

We had thought about going for some barbecue, but the lunch was so late
we didn't really feel like eating. So we went to T&Ds, where Danesha
was fretting because she couldn't find one of the cats who needed to go
to the vet. Pat helped find Dr. Pablo Cobblestone (the cat) and he had
a happy issue from his affliction. Tod was setting up his teams for a
video game, NCAA football 2006, that he loves to play with his buddy
Phil. I dozed until Tod decided to play a game with himself to show me
how much fun it was. I was less than overwhelmed, but let the record
show that Tod's UWV Mountaineers whupped the Maryland Terps by a score
of 42-17 in the rain at Morgantown.

For those who have been sitting on the edges of things waiting for news,
I apologize. Tomorrow Tod will go to the hospital at 10:00, which means
he should sit around for less time before he goes back "into the back".
We'll hope that tomorrow's surgery happens more or less on schedule,
beginning in early afternoon. Dr. L will be on call in the
morning, so he won't have a morning surgery, but someone else will
presumably be using the OR, so it could get backed up again. For future
reference, if you're ever offered a choice, go for the first surgery of
the day even if it means you have to get to the hospital at 5 AM. Much
better odds of things happening on schedule.

I spoke at some length with Dr. L. He thinks the operation will
probably take 3-4 hours. He anticipates installing a reinforcing ring
at the base of the leaflets of the valve, as well as trimming the valve
leaflets themselves, and reinforcing the cords that keep them from
opening too far (and whose stretching beyond their normal length is the
proximal cause of the prolapse.) He's extremely straightforward, and
apparently humorless, but nice. He wasn't at all bothered by my asking
him direct questions about his experience and track record. I think
he's probably very good, and I see why Tod likes him. He inspires
confidence. And we all appreciated his coming out to talk with us--he
didn't have to do that, but it was informative, reassuring, and

Tod has amazing ability to stay calm. He's been doing breathing
exercises for several years now as part of his yoga training, and he
also does Buddhist chanting for an hour or more at a time; he can manage
physical stress as well as anyone I've ever seen. But he was getting
close to the edge when Dr. L came in this afternoon, and after
relaxing for several hours, he was getting a little wound up again when
we left him tonight about a half hour ago. He didn't sleep well last
night; I hope he'll do better tonight. But then he'll be sleeping all
tomorrow afternoon. . . .

Goodnight to all. It'll probably be close to this time tomorrow (i.e.,
9:00 PM) before I can send further news, but I'll do it as soon as I

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