Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eek! Not Yet!

The good news (well, I GUESS it's good news) is that I got approval for less-invasive-guy (AKA Surgeon No. 2) at better-hospital-place (AKA St. Joseph's in Burbank). Hard to believe this went so smoothly after all the trouble I went to just to get the consult approval.

So here we are.

What's next?

Uh, I guess I have to actually schedule the, y'know...SURGERY.

I managed to punch the numbers on the phone and eventually got put through to the surgery scheduling person, a woman who sounded especially harried and busy. After I'd identified myself, she reported that yes, they'd just received their copy of the authorization but that she hadn't spoken to the surgeon yet.

"Are you on blood thinners?" she asked.


"Then, depending on the availability of the anesthesiologist, I think we'll be able to put you on the schedule for next week."


Okay, I didn't really screech that, but I may have made a similar sound. And then I added that I wasn't quite, er, ready.

"When were you thinking you'd like to do this?"

Did I detect a slightly smirky tone...? As in, you'll do this whenever the surgeon can you fit you in?

No. Probably just me being a little sensitive. In any case, I offered up the third week in February (right after I get all our company insurance renewed, please--and the rest of my life, like, ORGANIZED) and she seemed to think that would work out.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Other Sides Heard From

Hey, people...remember who you're dealing with here. Queen of Wishy-wash. Devil's Advocate Extraordinaire. A woman with the ability to talk herself INTO...and OUT OF almost anything.

Which is why a couple incoming emails threw me into schizoid territory this week. Well-meaning votes for the traditional sternotomy instead of the less invasive approach.


Decided it was time for extreme measures. Yes, I actually registered as a bona fide member at valvereplacement.com. And posed a question to fellow members who've gone through the "portal access" procedure...How, I asked, did you justify it to yourself in face of the arguments made against it?

Meanwhile, I'm checking on the status of my referral request. So far, I've been on hold for thirty-five minutes...and counting....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the guy in this picture will be doing the slicing and dicing. That is, if Health Net doesn't try to make my life miserable.

And, no...I didn't pick him based on looks. Shame on you. Perish the thought.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Not For The Squeamish

Option 1.
Option 2.
Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it??

What NOT To Say

Here's a sweet exchange which occurred at a Bat Mitzvah I recently attended whereupon I encountered many old "friends."

Old "Friend": "I hear you need a heart valve replacement."

Me: "Sucks, doesn't it?"

Old "Friend": "Are you still smoking?"

Me (shrugging sheepishly): "Yes."

Old "Friend" (with a dismissive wave of the hand): "Then I don't feel sorry for you."

Isn't that nice? I think I mumbled something defensive about it being a congenital defect, not effected by smoking, and that in fact, my arteries are CLEAR, but I imagine the din of the party drowned out my protest.

I may never speak to this old "friend" again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Title Change?

In the old days, you'd be guessing this post might be about changing the title of a manuscript.

Ah...the old days.

Nope. Today I'm referring to how I should maybe change this to Randy Writes About Her Heart Valve Replacement. Talk about a catchy title, huh?

Anyway, it occurs to me that not everyone's on Facebook (where from time to time I drop a brief update on the progress I'm making toward heart surgery). Indeed, I hear frequently from readers who wonder where my blog has gone.

With that in mind, here's a quick recap:

After nephew Brian (without experiencing ANY symptoms) discovered SEVEN blocked arteries, I figured I'd better get checked out myself. Saw a cardiologist in September who wasn't happy with my heart murmur. More tests in October confirmed "severe aortic stenosis" or, in other words, badass narrowing of the aortic valve. Prescription: Aortic Valve Replacement (better known as AVR).

Next test was an angiogram (I believe I posted a picture of my hospitalized self on the blog somewhere) during which it was determined my arteries were clear, so no need to tack on Coronary Bypass Surgery to the AVR. Yay for small miracles.

Consulted a surgeon and got the low-down, but meanwhile did some research on my own. Something called Less Invasive Surgery sounded mucho appealing, but how to go about making it happen?

Ah...that's when "possible surgery in November" turned into the interminable wait. Without going into boring detail, let's just say it takes a Ph.D. to navigate the complicated terrain of health insurance, and I ain't got no Ph.D.

Cutting to the chase...I saw a second surgeon yesterday, one who does indeed do a less invasive procedure. Oh, wait. Let's back up for the uninitiated. Traditional AVR is where they hack your sternum down the middle, spread your ribcage open, and have at it.

Hence the interest in "less invasive."

As opposed to ripping your chest hope, the surgeon makes a smaller incision above the breast and goes through the ribs.

Ouch, no matter how you slice it. (Ha. Slice it. I crack myself up.)

Anyway, here's the dilemma: yeah, surgeon guy number two CAN and WILL do the "less invasive," but is it his first choice?

Uh, no.

Basically, his point was: Why not make it as easy as possible for the surgeon to do his job?


Bottom line...more to think about--but not much time for it since yesterday's guy gave the impression that I need to get this accomplished sooner rather than later. ("Really? You're not having problems with passing out?")

Decisions, decisions...long time blog readers know I SUCK at making decisions!

Stay tuned....

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I Could Get Used to Seeing This....

Snapped with a cellphone as I stood in the living room of a condo my sister-in-law and I own in Pacific Beach. Tragically, the interior view is not as pretty...but it will be once we're done renovating!!