Tyler's Heart

Pictures - Pictures from Houston.
LVAD Video - A YouTube video about living with an LVAD.
HeartMate II Video Clip - Short video clip about the pump Tyler has.

Another good blog to read is from our friend Bill. Cozumel Part 1 - This Might Be Habit Forming.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's Ride - 10/26/2009

Again, thanks to Kelly for dealing with the air flight. Without her this story would be quite different and short.

While Bill, Heidi, and I were waiting for the airplane, we continued to make calls and I continued to harass the clinic staff. The staff took this in stride and helped me where ever possible. Bill took some photographs and when Tyler is awake again and approves it, we may post those pictures. Tyler was conscious but in a lot of pain. When with Tyler I would stare in dis-belief and talked to him as much as possible. His vomiting, due to the meds, was done for the most part. He still felt nauseous, was in pain, and basically quietly laid in the bed. Heidi continued to massage his back and Bill helped me deal with the payments the clinic needed...even going with me to a local ATM to get peso's for part of the bill. The bill came out to roughly 40,000 pesos. This was about $3,000 - $4,000. I had made contact with Tyler's insurance company and the travel insurance company. We had started to notify people about what was going on and started asking for help in keeping things as stable as possible.

About 5pm an local ambulance finally loaded Tyler and I for the ride to the Cozumel airport. I had gone back to the resort to grab all of our stuff and to inquire about finding Tyler's phone. The resort had called me earlier at the clinic to let me know that they would handle our checkout and I was just to grab my stuff and leave.

At the airport I was taken through a special security post, quickly, and walked out onto the tarmac to meet up with the plane and ambulance. As I rounded the front of the plane a pilot met me and introduced himself. I experienced such a relief as I realized that I was now talking to someone in English and he was from the U.S. Another odd moment that was something out of a movie. "Americans! Oh thank God!".

As we loaded Tyler into the plane a swarm of mosquitoes descended on us. The mosquitoes also swarmed into the plane. And these were good Mexican sized mosquitoes! The two pilots, Tyler and I, and two paramedics got on the plane quickly and shut the door. As the plane took off....fast...I was killing as many mosquitoes as possible while the paramedics continued to hook Tyler up to equipment. As I was smacking mosquitoes between my hands and up against the plane, I noticed the pilots were in the cockpit doing the same.....as they were taking off. This is when I realized I had just entered into some kind of Lifetime movie meets action flick. One of the paramedics commented that I was duly deputized (for continuing to kill mosquitoes). I replied that while nice of him, it was more self-preservation for Tyler and me. Once in the air and with the air conditioning going, the swarm was mostly dead. The paramedics had Tyler hooked up and were monitoring what was going on. Space on the plane was very tight and I just did my best to stay out of the way and pray for Tyler.

As the plane headed for Texas the paramedics started asking me questions about Tyler and his medical history. At one point they asked if Tyler had a history in his family with heart problems. I didn't think so but didn't really know. Tyler then lifted his air mask off and told them about his family's history with by-passes and heart attacks.
Mid flight the paramedics, due to fuel and weather and Tyler's condition, told me we were diverting from San Antonio and instead we headed for Houston. Kelly was trying to get a flight from Denver to San Antonio at the time and I started wondering how I was going to contact her since I still didn't have a phone. Thankfully the coordinator of the flight got in touch with Kelly just as she was boarding her San Antonio flight.

We landed in Houston at either a private airport or Houston Hobby. One of the paramedics asked if I had ever ridden in an ambulance with the lights going, etc. I said no and he said it will be quite the experience. Of course my comment was it was an experience I could have lived without. We had to fill out customs declarations and I asked if the mosquitoes should be considered livestock since there had been so many. As we were waiting for the customs agent to make sure we weren't smuggling drugs, bombs, etc., Tyler told the paramedic that he wanted to sit up since his back was hurting. The paramedic explained that his blood pressure was low and he couldn't sit up. Tyler said, "My back hurts and this has nothing to do with my heart! I want to sit up now!". I looked at the paramedic and said Tyler would be fine if he was acting this way.

We loaded into the ambulance with barely enough room for all of us. I did get to ride in front and the experience, well, sucked. The ambulance didn't go fast enough for my taste and I got the sense that the driver wasn't quite sure how to get to the hospital. More praying! The driver did comment that her husband had just had a heart attack last week and that I was going to have a lot of 'power' over Tyler for him putting me through this. My response was that Tyler had to go through my cancer this summer so he was just getting me back. In spades!

We finally made it to St. Luke's and they took him to ER and then right to the Cath Lab. The scene was truly out of ER or Grey's Anatomy, with 10 people rolling him onto an elevator and up to the OR. Once they rolled him through the orderly stopped me directed me to the waiting room. This was when a lady in the hall way yelled out, "is that my husband!". A moment passed with a look between me and the orderly and we then just said "No". This was also the first time in about 30 hours that I wasn't running around trying to manage the situation and things started to sink in.

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