My sweet Daddy is in the hospital again. He called me at work yesterday, and when my coworker said “it’s your father on the phone” I immediately knew something was up since he never calls me at work.
Several years back, we almost lost him. In fact, did lose him twice on the operating table, and God brought him back. Okay, I’ll give props to the doctors too – but their handiwork was lead solely and completely by our Lord’s will. Period.
It all started out with having a bad heart for years. Then came the respiratory ailments, which escalated into pneumonia then finally a terrible abscess in one of his lungs. The docs tried for months on end to clear it up to no avail – finally the decision was made to remove most of the lung. He was so very sick by this point, they didn’t give a good prognosis for the outcome of the operation. It was, in fact, grim. He came through the operation with multiple complications and they ended up having to go BACK in months later and get the rest of the lung. It frustrated me that he had to go through all that twice, the second time harder because it was a second go-round – I still wonder why it just wasn’t all done at one time. The recovery time it took for him amazed me, he’s just a trooper and loves life so much that nothing seems to keep him down.
In between all this, the heart issue had to be addressed as well. Dad was given a pacemaker/defibrillator amidst all the lung issues. I don’t know if any of you are aware of what’s called “Ejection Fraction” (Ef). This is the medical terminology that refers to the fraction of blood pumped out of ventricles with each heart beat. Your heart circulates blood through two separate systems. The two chambers on top (atriums) are the receiving stations for your blood. The two lower chambers (ventricles) are pumping stations. When the left ventricle contracts, forcing blood out into the body, it’s called “ejection” since it is “ejecting” the blood out into your arteries. Since the big pumper on the lower left is the one that pushes blood throughout your body, that is where they usually measure heart function – the left ventricle. That’s the “ejection” part. The “fraction” part is because that pumping chamber (the left ventricle) never quite manages to pump out all the blood inside it – there’s always a little bit left behind that lies around waiting for the next contraction. The amount your left ventricle does pump out per beat is called the “ejection fraction”. It’s X% (the amount pumped out) of the total amount of blood in the ventricle per heart beat. If your heart pumps out 55% or more of the blood in your left ventricle on each beat, you have good heart function. When it falls below 55%, you’re slipping. My Dad’s was 15%. Believe it or not, it can improve over time. If I remember correctly, at the last reading he had gotten back up to 25%, maybe even higher – my memory eludes me so I’ll have to ask him.
Back to the pacemaker/defibrillator. Most of us are aware of the pacemaker’s purpose, which is to regulate the heartbeat. You can adjust the pacemaker so that it can be suitable for either the top or bottom heart chambers or both, depending on what type of pacemaker it is and the needs of the patient. It also will only work if it is needed, it doesn’t work all the time. An implanted defibrillator is a larger device. It is there to prevent death from a cardiac arrest. The device shocks the heart if it needs to be shocked, because of a life-threatening rhythm disturbance from the lower chambers of the heart. It can correct this rhythm. Because it has a pacemaker built into it, a defibrillator also has the capability of stimulating the heart like a pacemaker, to help stop fast rhythms, at times, and to prevent the heart from getting too slow. Okay, I know I’m being long-winded on this (pardon the pun).
When Dad originally had the device implanted, it wasn’t long at all (2007) before they made the startling discovery that his was one of Medtronics pacemaker/defibrillator devices that had bad ‘leads’ in it. Sure enough, it was only discovered after the device went on a rampage and violently ‘shocked’ Dad continually for almost 24 full hours. I cannot imagine the trauma of enduring this. They ended up replacing the leads, I believe, shortly after this happened.
You can view a short video here on the history of the malfunctioning leads. Pretty darned interesting. Medtronics Defibrillator Video on bad leads
The reason he’s back in the hospital? The hospital called him back yesterday morning, and said the leads are once again malfunctioning… and for him to get to the hospital asap. Right now, they’re unsure which gameplan they’re going to take – currently two different procedures are being decided on. The outcome will depend on several factors, decided by the test results from later today.
Like I said before, he’s a trooper and a champ! He’s been riding his new bike (tryke) for several months now and enjoying it immensley. He’ll get back on it and go back to life as usual before I know it. He’s honestly the biggest lover of life that I know, and loves our precious Lord so very dearly. Any and all prayers will be so appreciated. Many blessings to all!
Thank you for sharing. I am praying for your dad and for you and for the doctors to have wisdom to know what to do to protect your dad from a malfunctioning device. Blessings…
September 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm
Thanks so much, Carol Ann!! I’ll keep you updated.
September 28, 2010 at 4:56 pm