Anyone who has tried to start and maintain a blog will tell you that blogging takes up a fair amount of time. I just checked and learned that we have been blogging since June of 2012. We have published 569 posts and currently have about 350 WordPress followers and many more Facebook followers from all over the world. It really is a joy to be able to communicate with so many of our friends, family, and even strangers through this medium, but, once again, it takes a little bit of time to keep up with the posting.
The reason we mention that here is that lately we have been preoccupied with much more weighty matters and blogging has been moved to the back burner for the last few weeks. Here is why…
For several years Mary has been feeling tired. Lately that tiredness has been worse and occasionally Mary would have some pains in her chest and shortness of breath. She had some bouts with infections and wrote off some of that pain to those illnesses or to gastritis. Then about three months ago, Mary started to have bouts of vertigo and dizziness. She had an ear infection and some of the vertigo cleared up as the infection was treated, but the tiredness and pain continued and seemed to be getting worse.
We have state sponsored health insurance (called IESS) and I urged Mary to go on into the IESS hospital in Portoviejo to see a doctor. Mary was reluctant to do that, but finally agreed to go to a clinic in Portoviejo for some extensive blood tests two weeks ago on a Wednesday. By Wednesday night the first feedback from those test led us to believe their was something wrong with Mary’s kidneys and perhaps her liver. By Thursday it was more and more evident that there was possible heart damage shown and, since many (if not most) of Mary’s relatives have died of heart problems, Mary finally agreed to go into the IESS hospital in Portoviejo to get the problem checked out.
Thanks to our energetic cab driving friend, Roberth we got moved up to the front of a (very) long line and spoke with an angel. Literally a woman doctor named, “Mariangel.” She noted the flushed appearance on Mary’s face and spirited us ahead for additional testing.
The initial tests (EKGs, blood tests, X-rays, etc.) showed some form of heart problems and we were sent for more testing. Apparently, everything continued to confirm some form of chronic heart problem, so Doctor Mariangel sent us over to another wing of the huge hospital for some sonogram-like testing. The doctor there determined that Mary was indeed sick. His initial admonition to me was that Mary had some angina, possibly had a had a heart attack, probably had some valve damage, and most likely had some plaque buildup blocking arteries.
About that time Doctor Mariangel came around and told me that she was going to prescribe some medicine to Mary to keep her from having a heart attack and the hospital was working on referring Mary’s case to a specialized hospital in Manta for further testing.
So, about 6:30 that same evening, after Mary had ingested a fist-full of pills and had a shot in her stomach, Mary and I, along with Doctor Mariangel, loaded into an ambulance and headed to one of the best specialized heart problem clinics in Ecuador the CardiCentro Clinic in Manta, Ecuador.
(Note: This picture came from the CardioCentro website and is a bit blurry.)
By 8:oo or 8:30 Mary was checked in and several doctors had spoken with me about the proposed treatment plan. They told me Mary would be monitored through the night and that I should head home and come back at around 11:00 the next morning. Mary, who was understandably stressed and who knows far less Spanish than I do, was not agreeable to the idea that her Spanish interpreter and husband would be some hours removed and suggested that I stay.
So, I did. Unfortunately – unlike most Ecuadorian hospitals – this clinic does not allow for overnight stays in the lobby area and Mary was assigned to a room somewhat like an intensive care area. I simply told the doctors that Mary wanted me to stay and none of them dared to contradict Mary’s orders.
About 9:00 that Saturday morning, Mary was wheeled off for some diagnostic angioplasmic procedures that the doctor assured me would take an hour or so. An hour turned into more than three hours and a little after twelve-thirty Mary emerged with a, “thumbs up” sign to me indicating that all had gone well.
After talking with Mary and the doctor I learned that the angioplamic procedure had shown that May had complete blockage in her Right Rear Artery and additional blockage below that. In addition, there were three areas of concern in the Left Coronary Artery with 80 Per Cent blockage.
Normally in a case with that much severe blockage, the doctors recommend bypass surgery, but the doctor (and Mary) decided to go ahead and see if the blockage could be removed. Three hours later the doctors had removed all of the blockage in the Right Artery and all of the blockage in the Left Connective Artery. To guard against reformation of the blockage six stents were inserted. The doctor assured me that the stents were the latest generation, “Drug Eluting” stents, but Mary will still need to take anti-rejection drugs for the next year along with a strict change of diet rules.
Our doctor, Doctor Hildalgo – the tallest man in the middle of the next picture – was so excited when he told me about the procedure that he sounded like a soccer player relating how he had scored the winning goal,
(Picture from CardiCenter website)
Anyway – The long and short of it all is that Mary is (miraculously) okay. She survived the testing. probing, blood testing, wake you up to see how you are”ing”, and significant pain associated with the angioplamic procedures and was released on Monday just two days after the procedure.
Not everything was perfect. Mary needed me to supplement the food and some of the staff were not very communicative (the language barrier is a real impediment at times), but the quality of the doctors and the medical equipment was excellent. We had a few days of adjustment to the new medications and Mary had to cut back on the blood pressure medicine as her blood pressure dropped dangerously low for a couple of days.
But, Mary seems to be stabilizing now, has little or no pain from the incision site and, thankfully her heart seems to be pumping away. We will have a follow up visit in two weeks and hopefully the tests will all show that the stents have been accepted and are doing their job.
God is good! He lives and blesses us all today in so many ways.
So, if it seems that we have been a bit negligent with posts lately – now you know why. It has been my pleasure and joy to take a little extra care of my beauty while she recovers here where…
Life is good in Ecuador!