Archive for the ‘Past Surgery Updates’ Category

I spent the day in Ann Arbor yesterday having chest x-rays, an EKG and a visit with my surgeon.

When my surgeon walked in the room, he asked me how I was doing. He could certainly tell that I was discouraged and proceeded to give it to me strait, which is one thing that I appreciate about him. He told us that over 90% of the people that have the dissection the way that I had it, die on the spot. 25% of those that make it to the hospital do not make it out. To this I say that I have a great God. He proceeded in telling me that I made it to the hospital, I then made it out of the hospital, I am home with my wife and children, and is now sitting there with him talking about ways to get better. It was one of those “You have to be there” moments, but it was humbling. Dr. Patel said that I needed to realize that I now have a medical condition, and will always have a medical condition. With this, we moved on.

As far as my chest and other incisions are concerned, they are healing well. I am still often in a decent amount of pain, but feel that it can be managed. Dr. Patel said that I immediately need to get off of the pain medications that I came home with, and instead use extra strength Tylenol. I will be starting this today. At this point, there are no red flags directly related to my surgery on the aorta. Unfortunately Dr. Patel said that I would have life time restrictions such as no heavy lifting, and I probably will not be able to do any extremely strenuous cardio type activities. I am not sure what this all means yet, but will know more as I continue to meet with my new cardiologist.

My EKG did show the irregular heartbeats which are PVC’s (Premature Ventricular Contractions).  This is something that can happen to normal healthy people, but considering the fact that I just had major surgery around my heart, there is cause for concern. Dr. Patel is referring me to a specialist in this area, and I am hoping that I get in soon and be able to move forward with getting this resolved. Because of these, the surgeon is not too comfortable with me driving because there is possibility of dizziness and passing out. I have not had those direct symptoms, so as of today, I am going to do a little driving.

What’s next? Sarah and I both preferred to have a cardiologist that is located in Ann Arbor rather than close to home. Dr. Patel has assigned me to a cardiologist that specializes in Aorta diseases. I see her on the 24th of this month. In about three months, I will go back and have an Echo and CT scan. These tests will give a clear picture of how the aorta is healing. I do still have a small tear on the upper part of the aorta. I have discussed this a few times with Dr. Patel, and it is something that we will have to keep an eye on. There is a possibility that it grows over although this does not happen very often. There is also a possibility that they will have to go back in and repair it.

The items that I am asking specific prayer about are:

1)      My PVC”S

2)      That there will be no complications

3)      Pain management

I appreciate the support that so many of you have given me, and for the abundance of prayers.

–  Walt


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My Recovery Update

Tomorrow will be I month since the surgery. Even though that may seem like a fair amount of time, my body is telling me that it really isn’t. I do feel that I am getting a little bit stronger physically each day. There are days, however, that are frustrating and feel like I am taking a step backwards. It does not take much for my body to tell me that I am a very long way away from recovery. I have not had many complications until yesterday. I felt a “Flutter” in my chest and could feel from my pulse that something was off. My blood pressure also increased. Sarah made a call to Ann Arbor who then called my local doctor. Within no time, I was at the doctors hooked up to an EKG. Everything checked out fine, and I am thankful that it was nothing serious. These sorts of incidences do put an emotional strain on me. I do still experience a good amount of pain, but feel that I have it under control with medications. The daily pain does get to me at times, and can become frustrating.

Next Thursday, I have my first round of tests and a meeting with my surgeon in Ann Arbor. I am praying diligently that everything checks out fine. I am also hoping to find out more about what restrictions can be lifted, and what restrictions I will have to look forward to moving ahead.

The amount of love and support shown by friends and family has been something that is so amazing, that at times it is hard to wrap my head around. The text messages, emails, phone calls and cards have been incredibly encouraging. There are times that I pray for encouragement and within minutes see the Lord answer those prayers with one of the above methods. A couple days ago, I was not having a good start to the day and prayed. Within a four hour period I received three text messages, an email, a card and a huge fruit basket. I can tell so many stories like these. I also appreciate the friends and family that have taken the time to call Sarah and send her an encouraging card. I love seeing the Lord use others to encourage my family. The saying “You find out who your friends are” rings loud and clear in times like these.

I do ask for your continued pray for my recovery. I need prayer for both my physical and emotional needs. Many of you have been so amazingly consistent in your prayers and encouragement to me, and I thank you for this.

– Walt

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The Surgery,

On Tuesday October 5th and Wednesday October 6th I had not been feeling very well. I had been having a lot of body aches and shortness of breath which is not uncommon for my once a year brush with bronchitis. Finally, on the morning of Thursday October 7th, I decided to go to the doctors. I was told that I was suffering from a nasty virus that had been going around. I finished up my work day as normal and entered into the evening feeling pretty lousy. At around midnight, I went to bed. My jaw was so achy, that I had to sit up in order to alleviate the intense pounding. At about 12:30am, I went to the basement to watch some TV, as I knew there was no way that I was going to be able to sleep anytime soon. As it neared 1:00am, the intensity of the pain and pounding in my jaw got worse and I started to have chest pains. The pain became so intense, that I did not know if I was going to be able to make it back upstairs to have Sarah call 911. I did make it up, and after about 15 minutes, the ambulance arrived.

The Paramedics ran an EKG and other tests as they were about to take me to Genesys Hospital. The test did not show that I was having a heart attack.  On my way to the hospital, I received a couple Nitrose and by the time I arrived at the hospital, the pain had subsided. At this point, I was sure that I was just suffering from the virus. After a battery of tests, they decided to run me through a CAT scan. The news of the result of this test will forever change my life.

Not too long after the CAT scan test, the doctor came in and said that I had suffered an Aortic  Dissection which they later  found out was caused by an Aortic Aneurysm. I was told that this could quickly turn catastrophic and that they would immediately need to begin to slow my heart rate down for emergency open heart surgery. I clearly remember the peace of God during this moment. Since things were progressing quickly to move towards surgery, Sarah and I made some quick calls to get people praying. My first call was to my brother. I did not need to say much to him, as I knew that he would handle everything that needed handling.

I do not remember anything from about this time, which was about 5:30am on Friday October 8th, until mid morning on Sunday October 10th. I have been told that I did talk to people before the surgery, but I do not remember it.

One of the big concerns was my heart valve. Genesys thought that it was possible that it did not need to be replaced and knew that the best place to send me would be the U of M Hospital in Ann Arbor. This decision was made, and a team was available, and they took me by helicopter from Genesys to U of M. At approximately 9:40am, I entered into a ten hour emergency open heart surgery.

The odds that were given were that nine out of ten people, who suffer the Aneurism, do not make it into an operating room. If you do make it into an operating room, than one out of four do not survive the surgery. I am so glad that I have a God that does not rely on man’s statistics.

Post Surgery,

I was told that I would be in the hospital 7-10 days, but left after 5 days. I was requesting at least one extra day, but I appreciated the surgeon taking the time to explain to me why he thought it would be best to get home as soon as possible. A good part of the reason is to get back to a familiar environment as there is many times depression that could come with having a surgery such as this. I came home on Wednesday October 13th and am currently working towards my recovery.


I am still soaking in the prayers, love and support of family, friends, church and even complete strangers that was part of the prayer chain. I wish that I could thank every single person that prayed for me. As I still go through my email and Facebook, I am blown away by the amount of people that were out there praying for me.

I would like to thank those friends and family that spent time with Sarah during my surgery. I know it meant a lot to her, but it means so much to me as well. To take the time to sit through all or part of the surgery and to be there for my family is something that I am trying to grasp the love involved, and I will never forget how much that meant to me.

Many people visited me post op, and that was huge for me. I like to see faces and talk to people. It was tiring at times, but for those that took the time to come to Ann Arbor to see me, I am truly grateful.

I appreciate those that worked the prayer chain on Facebook and elsewhere. There were some of you whom were responsible for connecting some links that led to an enormous amount of people praying. God listened and answered. Thank you.

Thank you to all who have come to my house and visited me. That has been a tremendous blessing.

The cards and flowers have meant a lot, and always brighten my day.

Thank you for family members that really stepped up to the plate. You all know who you are, and God used you in special ways. I have the best family a person could ever want.

I want to thank all who continue to pray, visit, etc. A quick message goes along way, and I have been blessed by so many. I have a long road of recovery ahead of me, and would continue to covet your prayers for both my physical and mental needs.

– Walt Conger

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