Seven years ago the world was changed forever by an unthinkable act of cowardice that shook us to our very core. That day affected me like many others but had a personal twist to it that makes this anniversary bittersweet for me. I republish my chronicle of open-heart surgery every year at this time at the request of very many folks who find it helpful. If you have no interest in non-tech stuff then skip this. For those who wish to experience life-changing emergency open-heart surgery from the patient's perspective then read on.
"Mr. Kendrick, can you hear me? I'm Mrs. Reinhard, the patient care facilitator here at Methodist hospital. Are you comfortable? I'll be making sure your wife and family are OK while you're in surgery as you'll be there for a while. Do you want to tell me anything before they take you back?"
I have to think about that one. I'm so cold, it's so cold in here. How should I respond that won't conflict with my Southern upbringing. You must be stoic when confronted with the most terrifying thing in your entire life. Scared beyond words that you will never wake up. Scared that they won't be able to fix your problem. Scared that you'll never, ever see your beautiful wife and wonderful children again. Terrified that you'll be an invalid after the surgery.
"Thank you but I'm fine."
"You understand the procedure you're about to undergo, right Mr. Kendrick? Would you like to talk about it or ask me any questions?"
"No, I'm fine. Tell my wife that I love her and I'll see her shortly. She doesn't handle upsetting things very well."
"Well, OK, Mr. Kendrick. Don't you worry- Dr. Lawrie is one of the best surgeons in the world and you'll be just fine. I'll sit with your wife for a while and make sure she knows what's going on with your procedure. They'll be coming to take you into surgery in a few minutes. I'll see you in the recovery room." (What I didn't know then is that Dr. Lawrie worked for 20 years on the personal surgical team of Dr. DeBakey, the pioneer of cardiac surgery. Sometimes you just get lucky.)
As she walked away I hoped that Sheri would be OK. A single tear trickled involuntarily down my cheek. I suppose it was still there when the doctors and nurses started their work.