Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mark's Ablation Celebration

July 12, 2016: When I arrived to pick up Mark at 11:15 this morning,
he was dressed and ready to be discharged from the hospital!

Monday morning my alarm went off at 1:00. That's 1:00 a.m. Then at 2:01 a.m. Mark and I left our mountain town and drove to Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix so Mark could check in by 5:00 a.m. With almost no traffic on the highways, we made the 3-hour drive in just 2 hours and 45 minutes.

July 11, 2016: Mark gets prepped for his procedure.

It was finally the day of Mark's heart procedure, an ablation, to correct his atrial fibrillation. In a treatment that normally lasts 1 1/2 to 3 hours, Mark's cardiology specialist spent more than 3 hours burning and/or freezing areas on the walls in the chamber of Mark's heart where the crazy electrical impulses originate.

He had three nurses, all blondes!

We arrived at 5:00, as ordered, and then we waited. Finally, at 7:00 he went to pre-op, where three nurses fluttered around him for about twenty minutes, getting him prepared. At 7:30 he was wheeled back and I was shown to the waiting room. I expected maybe a two-hour wait, but it stretched on for four and a half hours before Dr. Bahu finally came out and reported how it went.

This staircase leads up to cardiology. Pretty, but we took the elevator!

The doctor told me that Mark had a lot of spots that needed to be burnt out, but as he worked through each tagged area, Mark's heartbeat corrected itself beautifully. The operation was a success! And he's doing great.

The hospital offered only this little cafe for dining.
Thirty-eight types of coffee, but not much else!

Mark was extremely tired and mostly slept for the next two hours. Gradually he expressed that he was thirsty, then cold, then hungry. The new nurse, a very attractive young man, brought him water, a warmed blanket, soda, and a box lunch. The hardest part for Mark was having to lie flat on his back for three hours until the groin incisions (where they threaded in the catheters) had clotted closed. It caused a lot of pain in his lower back, since he wasn't allowed to even bend his knees. He was also less than thrilled to learn that he couldn't have a cigarette until he was discharged today. More than twenty-four hours without nicotine!

At the cafe for breakfast, I had the Chicken Alfredo in a plastic cup.
Made it kind of hard to mix the sauce in with the chicken and pasta!

I had  lots of time to explore the medical center while waiting on Mark's results. It's a very large but clearly older facility. Very interesting. I took lots of pictures, as you can see. The cafe was a tiny hole in the wall that was a huge disappointment. Even our little rural hospital has a full cafeteria with real food.

Landscaped courtyard in the hospital near the cafe.

After eating my breakfast, I spent four hours in this waiting room.

I stayed with Mark until almost 3:00, but once he was up and eating and able to get around on his own again, I had to leave to take some important documents to the post office for mailing, grab some lunch (I'd decided not to go back to the hospital cafe), and get checked into my hotel room. After I was settled in, I made the 15-minute drive to visit my dear friend Gwen--for almost four hours! I am so blessed with great friends. I'm always amazed that we can go for long periods without seeing each other and then pick up right where we left off, never at a loss for things to share, and knowing we always have each others' backs: Gwen, Peggi, Wyndie, Debbie, Trudi, and so many others I love and appreciate more than I can express!

This cute little aquarium was stuck in a corner of the waiting room,
away from the seating, making it difficult to sit and enjoy.

On my way back to the hotel, I stopped to pick up a few items at Walmart before holing up for the night. I read for half an hour and then retired at 10:30. After being on-the-go since 1 a.m., I slept like a rock. I woke up long enough to visit the bathroom around 4:30, but slept in this morning until 8:30. It was awesome!

The curtains around the patients' beds reminded me of carnival tents!
This was looking out from Bay #8, where they put Mark after his procedure.

I spent a leisurely morning on my laptop while nuking and eating the microwaveable breakfast I'd picked up at Walmart. Then I got myself ready, hauled my bags out to the car, and left the hotel fifteen minutes before the 11:00 checkout time. Then I headed back to the hospital, twenty minutes away in Phoenix, to be there for the seven pages of instructions that were part of Mark's discharge.

This was my third time in four months to stay in this same hotel! My room
was on the second floor, the room at the end of the walkway, on the right.
(That far right window upstairs was mine.)

I'm grateful that this time our visit to the Valley didn't coincide with a heatwave, like it did when we were in Mesa last month, but even without a heatwave it's always HOT in the Phoenix area if it's summertime. The thermometer topped out at 110 degrees on Monday, which is too warm for me, but noticeably better than 117 degrees! You know how it feels to open a hot oven when your face is too close? That is literally how it feels to walk out of an air-conditioned building into temperatures 115 and higher.

Mark was glad to say farewell to Banner University Medical Center!

When we left home at 2:00 a.m., the mountain air was a crisp 52 degrees. By the time we hit the outskirts of Mesa at 4:30 a.m. it was 99 degrees outside. That night, when I returned to my hotel room at 10:00 p.m. it was still 102 degrees. When I left at 10:45 the next morning to pick up Mark, it was already back up to 104. You don't even get a cooling break overnight during this time of year in the Valley of the Sun.

Banner University Medical Center

After Mark was discharged from the hospital, he said he was ready for lunch. Understandable, since they'd fed him breakfast at 6:30 and it was now almost noon. So we stopped by our usual Carl's Jr. on the way out of town. By the time we got back on the road headed north at 12:45, the temp was already at 106. I was happy to be on my way back to cool country.

I had to take a picture of these pigeons trying to avoid the heat
by finding shade in the plants. There are four birds still here in the photo,
but three or four others fled when I got too close.

This is some of the beautiful country we pass through on our way home.

By the time we'd climbed to the top of the Mogollon Rim (elevation about 8,000 feet), beyond which our communities in the White Mountains are located, the temperature was a lovely, breezy 85 degrees. I can handle that!

That's part of the Mogollon Rim up ahead. Up there is where we live!

Thank goodness the temperature was pleasant, because at the top of the Rim we also encountered roadwork that stopped traffic for quite a long time, close to 30 minutes. It was long enough that we all shut off our engines, and many people got out to stretch and wander and visit. I'd known about the road crews and delays, but we'd been lucky enough to miss it all on our way down. We'd left home so very early that the road crews weren't on the job yet.

As soon as we'd climbed to the top of the Rim, we were stopped for roadwork.
For a very, very long time. This is the line ahead of us...

...and this is the line behind us.

And so, instead of getting home at 3:30 this afternoon as I'd anticipated, instead it was 4:00 when we pulled into the driveway. It's always wonderful to be home. And now it's time to pack for our Utah trip...

At least we had a beautiful view to enjoy while we waited, 
as well as much cooler temperatures.

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