Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal - But It's Getting Harder

Grams is always hopeful about Grandad's continuing health struggles.  In case you don't know the back story, you can read it here.  Every time he sees a new doctor, my hope rises.  So far, only to be dashed after a little time passes.  But, hope springs eternal ... and Grams tries to always be upbeat, positive, and hopeful. 

His issues with atrial fibrillation (A-fib) seem to be increasing.  Rarely does a day go by that Grandad does not have tiredness, faintness, weakness, shortness of breath and sometimes confusion.  These are only his major symptoms, he has others from time-to-time.

If you've read his back story, you know that since his problems began more than three years ago, he as seen at least 11 doctors.  We recently approached his primary care physician about the possibility of getting a second twelfth opinion.  We asked for a referral to a major medical center where we might possibly get a more definitive diagnosis.

He was very gracious and admitted to being stumped by Grandad's continuing symptoms.  He even apologized for letting this go on so long without being more proactive in looking for a resolution.  He reported that he has numerous patients who live with A-fib without major quality of life issues.  He then consulted with Grandad's local cardiologist and together they have referred him to Dr. James Wilson in Houston.  Dr. Wilson practices interventional cardiology. 

According to Grams' research, interventional cardiology refers to various non-surgical cardiovascular procedures. Interventional cardiologists use catheters to get inside blood vessels for diagnostic tests or to repair damaged vessels or other heart structures, often avoiding the need for surgery.

We will travel to Houston on Mother's Day.  Grandad will work out of his Houston office on Monday and Tuesday.  Late on Tuesday afternoon we will see Dr. Wilson for the first time.  We have been told to be prepared to stay a few days after that visit in case he decides that a procedure will be done. Fortunately, our son and daughter-in-law live in Houston and we'll be able to stay comfortably (and free) with them.  They'll also be able to sit with me if a procedure is called for. 

We have discovered through our own research and discussion with his doctors that there are a number of procedures that might be used to put Grandad's heart back into sinus rhythm.  Some possibilities include delivering a mild shock via electrodes inserted through a catheter, restarting the heart with a defibrillator, or inserting a pacemaker.  We really don't know if any of these would resolve his issues or not.  Some of his doctors have been very frank in saying that they don't think it would help.  Others say maybe. 

As always, we would appreciate your prayers.  Hope springs eternal .. but it's getting harder!

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