This summer has been a whirlwind. I've been so excited to get my old life back – wait, scratch that. I've been so excited to start a new life, I haven't spent much time looking back since Mandi and I got married on the rim of the Black Canyon in June. ... My life has a renewed sense of vibrance and urgency to pack it all in and pursue some of my atheltic dreams while I still can. The surgery has been a wake-up call to go for the gusto and stop putting things off while another year slips by, so writing has taken a back seat lately. However, I am thrilled to bring you readers up to speed!
I started posting the first segments of what became "The Open Heart Series" in my "Personal Blog" in the weeks before I went to CU-Denver Hospital to have my chest sawed open and have my aortic valve replaced. Writing was a way to process what I was going through, including the massive fear I faced. Somewhere along the way, I realized it would be a good idea to consolidate the stories as much as possible, so that others facing a similar experience might benefit from an outline of what I went through. In an effort to put all the scattered stories into one place, I have the hyperlinked titles listed below in chronological order. More related stories are still on the way, perhaps for a long time to come.
This segment of the Open Heart Series aims to cover my first days back home after five days in the hospital, my first days back at work, and what daily life was like up to my first check-up in late December, two months after surgery. In the next chapter, I'll recount my physical recovery from Thanksgiving 2014 to present, and my return to rock climbing. Read
My first memory of waking up after five and a half hours of open heart surgery is vague except for one powerful feeling: joy. I'd survived. And my family was there in the ICU with me. I wanted to talk to them – I was so excited to be through it – but I had a tube in my throat, and tubes coming out all over my body. Read more
Hearing people talk about what happened while I was in surgery for five and a half hours is like hearing my parents' stories about the day I was born. I was there, but I wasn't. For this segment, I interviewed my fiancée, and my mom and dad to get an idea of what they went through in the waiting room during the operation, and afterward while I was recovering in the hospital for several days. I asked them in particular if they had any advice for people facing a similar waiting-room experience. Obviously it was a very emotional time for all involved. Emotions are tricky things to pin down objectively. That makes it hard to offer concrete advice, but I will try. ... Read more
The month before I had open heart surgery on Oct. 30 is mostly a blur to me now, as I write this 60 days after the fact. The feeling I recall is that of a procession down a long hallway with crimson rugs and no light at the end. During that time, I made a point not to dwell on a future that couldn't be avoided.
Six weeks after open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve, I finally got around to Googling videos of the procedure. If you are about to have open heart surgery, I would recommend not doing a Web search before you go in.