If you have been following on this site, you know two of the top senior players (in the world), Evert Jonsson and Fred Drilling have had “heart surprises.” Here is an update on their – and my – medical status…
Evert Jonsson’s Heart Surgery
For a reminder, Evert had ZERO SYMPTOMS, but because of what happened to Fred Drilling, he wanted to have a stress test; but before the stress test, he had to have a CT Calcium scan. He did; and while the acceptable range is 0-400, Evert’s came in at a mind boggling 3,155.
He then insisted on having a heart catheterization to see what it looked like on the inside. That was Friday. They found his “widow maker” 95% blocked and they immediately brought him in for surgery yesterday.
I spoke with him this afternoon and he reported his double bypass was a success and he was “way ahead of the curve” due to his excellent physical conditioning. He said, “First exercise breathing, second sitting in a chair breathing. And they told me I was so lucky it’s so much easier without a heart attack damage.”
Fred Drilling’s Back Surgery
Following his quadruple heart bypass surgery and knee replacement surgery, Fred reported on this afternoon about his Tuesday morning spinal cord surgery, “I checked in at 5:30 a.m., operating room at 7:30, out cold at 7:31, woke up at 10 or so and left hospital at 10:25, Starbucks breakfast at 10:30. No pain at all for a few hrs, and now just a little pain from the incision. No aches. Dr said everything went really well and 2 to 3 weeks I should see some good improvement from before. Almost canceled yesterday because I wasn’t sure it was going to accomplish what I needed done. So glad I didn’t. Got 2nd opinion from daughter Dr Tiffany Drilling, PT.”
My CT Scan Results!
It had been nearly TWO WEEKS since I followed Evert’s lead and had this easy and inexpensive ($75 out of pocket) diagnostic test done … but I had been unable to get anyone in my doctor’s office to provide me with my results.
Monday morning, I left a “strongly worded” phone message for the nurse, who returned the call in five minutes saying, “she would send a message to the Doctor.” Well finally at 8 p.m. that night, the Doctor calls me…
While I love my doctor (he is the one who flagged my increased PSA number in 2007 resulting in my successful prostate cancer surgery), I first told him how unhappy I was being unable to get my results sooner. He started to defend “the process” by saying that the data first had to be reviewed by a cardiologist and then … but he noticed that they had had my results for TEN DAYS and apologized.
Then he started some “medical speak” about “numbers outside the normal range”… but “ you being asymptomatic”. I interrupted and told him the stories of my two super-athlete friends Fred Drilling and Evert Jonsson being “asymptomatic” and their negative results.
So after several minutes of conversation, I finally asked, “So Doctor, what IS my number?” (Understanding that the acceptable range is 0 – 400, with over that being at risk for a heart attack). My number? 1,491.
The Key Lesson…
My doctor understood the background and said that very athletic people’s bodies tend to “compensate” for these heart issues by developing other solutions (I assume work-around blood flow), which allows them to then maintain their high levels of activity. And thus, he wanted to immediately schedule me for a heart cath to better determine my situation.
Another key lesson… don’t be a passive patient and assume “they will take care of you.” I was told, “don’t worry about your results; if they were high, someone would have called you by now.” No… be an impatient patient and demand to know what is going on.
Tuesday morning, my Doctor’s office contacted three different Naples cardiologists, shared my records, and asked them to contact me. Being proactive, I called the first one’s office and was told, “it could take 24 hours for them to receive and then review my records.”
I called the second one, got voicemail which said, “If this is an emergency, call 911. If not, we will return your call within 24 hours.”
So I went out and played tennis!
Finally, in the afternoon, I made contact with a Scheduler and am seeing Dr. Santos Wednesday at 11 am to discuss/schedule next steps!
To know what a heart cath entails, you can click HERE …
Senior comments are always welcome.
Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com
My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!