As many of you know I am home recuperating from a heart attack and coronary artery bypass surgery. I am happy to report my recovery is strong, in fact ahead of the normal recovery schedule and I am feeling great. Only a few lingering effects: the major one being the stabilization of my blood pressure. I am confident my cardiologist, Dr. Wai Lee, MD (one of the best in my opinion), will solve this problem shortly.
Beyond saying hello to all my blog supporters, I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the great folks at my company who have stepped up to cover for me and take on added responsibility in my absence. My fear is they have done such a great job they may not need me any longer.
A special “thank you” also goes out to Tom Welsh and Stan Minden for contributing articles for my weekly wine blog. It is time consuming to create these blog articles and these two guys went above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks so much for your efforts. I am not quite sure when I’ll be back to writing each week’s blog article so you might have to suffer through some more past articles until I can get back to full speed ahead.
Thanks to the hundreds of well wishers for all your prayers, kind words, cards and gifts. They are and were greatly appreciated. Many times they brightened the day.
Mrs. Tiedemann, my daughter Elizabeth and grandson Adler had headed to Chicago for a couple days of R&R. I like to take advantage of this down time to have dinner with my son Ben and son-in-law Aaron Carris. So on a Tuesday evening we headed out for dinner, ate some spicy food – Carl drank some wine – and the boys had Scotch night caps. At the end of the evening I dropped them off and headed home to bed. I had been invited to shoot sporting clays the next morning and need to get up early and get going.
About 2:00 a.m. I woke up with chest pain which felt like indigestion or heart burn. However, due to my past heart issues, I checked my blood pressure and it was fine. Instead of going to the emergency room (as I should have) I went back to bed. In the morning when I got up I was sick and felt bad. I made a phone call to cancel the sporting clays trip, and of course got some flack about being out too late or having a hangover. After that harassment I went back to bed and slept a couple more hours.
To shorten the story a bit let me say that the heartburn symptoms continued from Wednesday through the weekend. On Monday (five days later) Mrs. Tiedemann suggested, and rightfully so that I call my cardiologist to make an appointment. They had me in the office Tuesday morning first thing. They did a blood test, ran an electrocardiogram and after some discussion scheduled a heart catheterization for the forth coming Thursday morning. Around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning (that same night) a doctor called and said they had just received the results of my blood test (it took more than 14 hours to get the results) and said that I had experienced a heart attack and need to report to the ER at once.
At the hospital I received another blood test and it wasn’t long before they also confirmed I had suffered a heart attack at some point. I knew right away that it had been the week before. And so my journey began.
On Thursday morning the catheterization revealed that all of my heart’s arteries were narrowed and were 90% blocked, thus requiring coronary artery bypass surgery. Mrs. Tiedemann said that when Dr. Lee came out of the surgery area in 20 minutes with his head down, she knew it wasn’t good news. Her attitude: it was fixable. She is a strong woman.
Because I had been taking blood thinning medication the surgery couldn’t be performed for five additional days. The surgery was tentatively scheduled for Monday July 24. After consulting with others, including Dr. Lee, we selected Dr. Walter Halloran to perform the surgery. Dr. Halloran specializes in thoracic and cardiac surgery. Dr. Lee and I wanted the surgery performed as quickly as possible as I was at high risk to have another heart attack. We decided if Dr. Halloran couldn’t do the surgery on Monday I would transfer to Northwestern Medical Center in Chicago to have the surgery performed on Tuesday. This wasn’t my first choice as recovering in Chicago would be very inconvenient. However, it was a serious enough situation that I didn’t want to risk waiting. As it turned out Dr. Halloran was able to schedule my surgery.
On Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. they transferred me to the surgery center at Elkhart General Hospital to be prepped for the open heart surgery. At 11:00 a.m. I said goodbye to my family and headed for surgery. I remember being transferred to the table and the next thing I remember is waking up in the intensive care unit some five to six hours later. I will not bore you with all the details of the operation, but it was a quintuple (five) bypass surgery. The pain was pretty intense the first couple days. They also had me up walking the evening of the surgery.
About 500,000 of these surgeries are done each year in the U.S. About 95 out of every 100 surgeries are successful. The statistics indicate after five years, about two out of 100 people need another surgery. I sure hope I am not one of the two.
The recovery period/program they have me on is 12 weeks long. This is pretty normal. I will be 100% released October 16. Believe me: I have the date circled on my calendar!!!
In the meantime I am doing physical therapy at the hospital three days per week. Their goal is for you to complete 180 minutes of exercise a week. Currently I am doing about 360 minutes per week, between therapy and home exercise.
In addition to physical exercise, I am on a low calorie/low fat diet (I have lost 38 pounds so far). I do have weight restrictions and certain physical moves I can’t do. For example, they don’t want me to lift more than 15 pounds or put any type of pressure on my sternum (breastbone) as it was divided for the surgery. This means I can’t push myself up and out of a chair, bed, etc. I can’t push anything or lift my arms above my head.
However, my recovery has far exceeded most people who have the surgery. This rapid recovery has allowed me to move ahead of schedule on such things as sleeping in bed before my 12 weeks are up. I was allowed to drive after six weeks and do a minimum amount of office work, etc. I am a lucky person at this stage of my recovery and life. Oh yes…they were very emphatic about no alcohol – which means I haven’t had a glass of wine in a long time. As I mentioned, I have the 16th of October circled on my calendar. The first glass of wine I am going to try is the new Adler’s Blend Red Wine, which I last tried in March in Napa. I can’t wait.
As always I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you are reading this blog for the first time please consider subscribing while you are on the website. This way you’ll get our reviews and articles in your email. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Until next week,