There was a dance happening between Alif's doctors - or as Jan says, the doctors were all having to play nicely together in the sandbox. The cardio-thoracic surgeon, Dr. P, needed to do surgery to replace Alif's mitral valve. That surgery needed to be done immediately. The infectious disease doctor, Dr. K, needed surgery to wait at least a few days so that Alif wasn't going into surgery so badly infected. The worst-case scenario was surgery immediately. The best-case scenario was surgery in a few days.
Surgery was scheduled for April 19, 2011. Almost immediately.
I asked Jan, "Do you think he will survive?" She paused. She said, "that's two questions. Do I think he will make it off the table, or do I think he will survive after the surgery?" She assured me that she felt confident that he would make it off the table. She was also compassionately clear that his chances after surgery were slim. We would be fighting blood pressure, infection, etc. etc. Getting him stabilized would be tricky.
I decided I would spend the night with Alif that night - have some time alone with him, say all the things I'd ever wanted to say, pray for him, sing to him. I delighted that no matter how I wracked my brain, there weren't many things I could think to say that hadn't already been said. I told him how much I loved him, of course, how proud I am to be his wife, how thankful for the years and years he'd worked so hard to support the lifestyle we have chosen. When morning came I was exhausted but thankful for having had the opportunity to be as close to him as possible going into the surgery.
We had finally gotten ahold of Alif's parents and they were due in during surgery. Alif was scheduled at 9:30-ISH (we were told not to put much stock in that time frame!) and family and friends started to show up pretty early. I think they finally took him back around 11, and Rabae and I were able to walk him out and give him last-minute hugs and kisses. Then the waiting began.
Looking back on the situation, this particular scene makes me laugh. There's a waiting room outside the ICU that's a pretty good size. It has probably 15 arm chairs and a table with four chairs also. We had moved the table aside and set up a full size air mattress. There were about 30 people in that room rooting Alif on, praying, laughing, crying, hugging, eating, working on laptops, pacing. Later in the day Jan came in and said, "there are families complaining that they have nowhere to wait." Megan said, "Oh! We haven't seen anyone!" Jan replied tactfully, "I think they've been waiting in the hallway." It was like the Big Fat Greek Wedding of hospital waiting rooms.
I'd asked Jan to promise me something. "If he doesn't make it off the table, Jan, please make sure I hear it from you. I don't want to see the doctor walking in here with that look on his face." She promised.
Sometime in the afternoon, Fred and Juanita came rushing in. About 3 minutes later, Dr. P came with the surgery report. "Everything went well." Rejoicing! Everything had gone well!
Very shortly after, a nurse (Jan? I forget) came in and pointed at me, Rabae, Fred and Juanita. "wife, sister, mom, dad." We went into the hallway and there were several nurses putting gowns on us as we walked in to the ICU. We had about 15 seconds to kiss Alif, touch him, tell him we loved him, and then they whisked him back into surgery. He was bleeding. WAY too much. The next day a nurse told me that when he was in the second surgery, it was the longest 50 minutes of her life.
But he made it through the second surgery too, and the bleeding stopped. Well, slowed to a normal rate.
Mitral valve replacement surgery. Age 36.