This is a rare shout out from me to the professionals at the Sacred Heart Regional Heart & Vascular Institute in Pensacola, Florida. I spend most of my time either immersed in my career as a healthcare marketer and agency president, or enjoying life with my immediate family (Scotti & Meg). Over the last few weeks my role as son has taken on much more importance as my 83-year-old father has struggled with his health. He has emphysema, pulmonary hypertension and heart issues. About two weeks ago he went into the hospital with tightness in the chest and the folks at Sacred Heart found that he had a serious case of coronary artery disease (all the vessels were occluded). He also had 85% blockage in his carotid artery.
My parents recently moved to Pensacola and prior to their move I researched the medical providers in the market. So I was somewhat familiar with Sacred Heart Health System. I flew down a week ago when my dad was scheduled to have his cardiac cath. I had him request the 64-Slice CT but his doctors were convinced that this was going to be an interventional procedure and they were going to attempt to clear the blockage using stents. What they found was far more plaque and calcification than they expected and they were unable to do anything using the cath. They then scheduled additional tests and began preparing him for quadruple bypass surgery. Waiting for the surgery has been an incredible stressful time for my mother and the rest of the family. Dad really didn’t look like a great candidate for open heart surgery given his existing health issues. Half a million Americans undergoing coronary bypass surgery each year, but this is my dad. This is scary stuff when it is someone you love.
On Wednesday morning they did the surgery. First they dealt with the carotid artery, and then they performed the quadruple bypass. On the day of the surgery I was working at a medical center in Boston, and flew down to be with my folks as soon as I finished up there. The call came to me early that afternoon that the surgery had gone exceedingly well and my dad was in recovery. They had projected 7 hours for the surgery and I believe it lasted 5 hours. And they didn’t need to use the heart-lung machine – a big relief. (The heart-lung machine creates its own list of potential complications.)
My dad is currently in the Adult Intensive Care Unit at Sacred Heart – expecting to be moved today to the step down unit. For the last couple of days I’ve been able to take advantage of the limited visiting hours, checking in on dad, feeding him ice and just being there with him. (Two of my sisters have been giving both my mom and dad round-the-clock care. They have been remarkable.) So far, this is the best possible outcome.
Today we tried a little music therapy to bring him to life and it seemed to help. Dad responded to the music and came alive for a few minutes.
I want to thank the wonderful people at Sacred Heart Regional Heart & Vascular Institute for the care they have provided my father and the attention they have given to my family. Every time I have called to check in with my mother over the last couple of weeks, in between my visits, she would tell me how wonderful the people are at Sacred Heart. I’ve experienced it for myself this week. I am eternally grateful.
Post by Dan Dunlop, Jake Dunlop’s Son