By Christopher Green
Yesterday, I went over to the Clinic with my trusty sidekick Brenda to meet with the cardiologist who works with the transplant team.
I talked a lot with his registered nurse about my life style, what drugs I take, and what kind of foods I eat: all the stuff that could figure into the overall health of my heart.
I admit I am not as careful as some people, but I am more acclimated to matters of the heart simply because of a family history of heart problems.
Both my step-father Ed and my uncle Frank, both not directly related, but still members of what I consider my family, had open heart surgery way back in the 60’s when that was not nearly as routine as it is now.
Back then, there was only one hospital here in Cleveland that was doing this kind of experimental surgery. It was real cutting edge. That was St. Vincent Charity Hospital in downtown Cleveland. It was all state of the art back then, but now it’s position at the top has been usurped by most of the suburban hospitals and of course the ever sprawling Cleveland Clinic.
Side note: even though Ed was aware that cigarettes and booze was not the best thing in the world for his heart, he had my mother smuggle up Martinis and Winstons into this room not two days out of recovery.
Ironically, he lived well into his 70’s before finally succumbing to death. I think they probably could have found out a lot about longevity if he would have donated his body to science. A precursor to Ozzy Osborn.
Anyway, Dr. A. Michael Lincoff proved to be a very nice and, more importantly, patient man. Two key personality traits one doesn’t always find when dealing with doctors who deal with matters of the heart. The stereotype of an egotistical doctor literally holding your heart in his hand and repairing what god gave you is too much for some people to ignore.
I have dealt with many doctors like this but since 2004, have had nothing but smooth sailing as far as doctors are concerned.
Outside of the two-hour wait, I felt very comfortable about what was going to happen and how it would affect my impending lung transplant.
Napping at the Clinic, waiting on the Doctor
I’d like to thank my sister since it was she who insisted that I see Dr. Rajesh Sharma back in 2001. Through Dr. Sharma, I have met several other medical professionals from Premier Physicians, Dr. Sharma’s organization . Nothing but good experiences with each and every doctor associated with Premier.
If it wasn’t for Dr. Sharma, I probably would have been dead by now.
Dr. Lincoff explained that the blockage, 60%, might be causing some of my shortness of breath and it might not be. That 60% is short of the percentage of blockage that would automatically trigger a stent, but in my case, we should consider the procedure.
He explained that since my lungs were so compromised, I could not go through a stress test to see how the old ticker labored under physically stressful situations. He said my lungs would give out before they were able to accurately measure the stress on my heart.
They could chemically induce a stress test or they could snake through another catheter with a more sensitive probe to accurately measure the flow around the blockage and to determine if a stent was necessary.
Dr. Lincoff then explained the two different stents. There is the wire mesh type that has a 15% failure rate. This is the result of this type of stent having a tendency to cause some blockage to form. The plus side is that I can safely be taken off Plavix and aspirin therapy after three months.
Listening to Dr. Lincoff
You can’t have an operation such as a double lung transplant with blood thinners and anti-coagulation medicine surging through your veins.
The medical coated stent has about an 8% failure rate, but I could not be safely taken off Plavik and aspirin for a year or more.
Here is a link to more information about drug coated stents.
If, on Tuesday, they go in and determine I need a stent, it will be an uncoated one so that my window of not being able to get a transplant would only be about three months.
Since Dr Budev explained to me last week that I could safely push the surgery down the road a bit, Dr. Lincoff is comfortable with doing a stent.
There is a risk that if something happened to me in that three months that I could be in real danger, but I think this is the best time of year to avoid getting another nasty bug as well as to keep plugging away at the exercise.
Which brings me to the Yoga.
Ginny Walters, whose husband Mark works as a doctor over at the Cleveland Clinic just one floor down from the respiratory HQ, came to the house for another wonderful personal yoga class.
She is patient and kind and willing to show us how the moves and positions are best suited for us. I can’t get over how nice some people can be.
When she comes into the house, the place lightens up with what I can only call her aura.
So far, I have been able to twist and turn this ravaged 52-year-old body into every shape and contortion she is suggesting will make me feel better.
This is a link to Ashtanga which is the type of Yoga that Ginny teaches.
The best part is that it does.
So tonight, as I get ready to meet some old friends and renew some old acquaintances, I can safely say I am in a better place. I know more about what is happening inside of me and I am calmer because of it.