Remember that fun little story I told you guys a couple weeks ago? About how Tim and I ended up at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor for emergency aneurysm surgery? If not, you can read it here.
Little did we know we’d be writing the next chapter of that story so soon. After that surgery on Sunday, Feb. 26, Tim recuperated at U of M Hospital until Friday, March 3. Despite our insistence that he wasn’t quite ready to come home, his doctors declared him fit to leave and kicked us out. We came home that day, and he began the process of trying to heal after the surgery.
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But he felt like something wasn’t quite right – and after all the medical stuff he’s been through, including a liver transplant in 2003, when he says things don’t feel right, I listen. On Monday, March 6, I took him into the Emergency Room at Munson Medical Center here in Traverse City. Around 3 a.m., it appeared that they would be keeping him at least overnight, so I came home.
On Tuesday morning, I received a phone call and could see U of M’s number on my phone. I figured they were just calling to check in and see how things were going. Surprise! It was Tim. He was back in Ann Arbor, having taken yet another ambulance ride from Munson to U of M Hospital in the wee hours of the morning. Gee, thanks, Munson, for calling and letting me know what was happening.
In the Munson ER, they’d done another CT scan and discovered some new leakage in the aneurysm that U of M had supposedly repaired during the Feb. 26 surgery. The aneurysm was not shrinking. It was growing and in danger yet again of rupturing. So back Tim went to Ann Arbor.
And just for some added drama, on the way there, a giant branch crashed into the ambulance and broke a window or light or something (the details aren’t clear). They were going to fly him down by chopper, but this was the night of that huge windstorm. I’ll take a broken ambulance window over a crashed chopper any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
At home on the Old Mission Peninsula on Tuesday, we were having our own windstorm problems. A tree had crashed down in the driveway, blocking our way in or out. Apparently, we never do anything the easy way. Thank goodness for my brother Ward and brother-in-law Terry, who came over and chainsawed the tree up so we could get in and out.
As usual, this is getting long, so I’ll cut to the chase. Tim had another emergency surgery at U of M Hospital on March 8. The same surgical team, with Dr. Gallagher at the helm, went in and placed some coil embolizations (Google it – it’s kind of fascinating), which blocked off any blood flow to that aneurysm. At least, we HOPE they blocked off the blood flow. Dr. Gallagher couldn’t give us any real guarantees, since they only saw one small leakage area. But the surgery took 10 hours and the entire vascular team was called in to assist and check the images for leaks or potential leaks. So I feel like they did their best, no matter the outcome.
And as always, the team at U of M Hospital, including our awesome ICU nurse Luke, is awesome. ALL of the ICU nurses are a special breed of goodness in the world.
At this writing, March 13, Tim is still at U of M Hospital and I’m in Traverse City. My daughter and I drove down last week, got there after the surgery and stayed until Saturday, at which time we came back so she could get caught up on homework and back to class at NMC today.
As of this writing, Tim seems to be progressing well. His numbers look good, his kidney appears to be functioning despite all the trauma, and he’s been moved out of ICU into another room at U of M’s CVC (Cardiovascular Center). Lord help us, I hope this fixes things. We’re running out of options as to what more could be done in there, and Dr. Gallagher says he’s not a good candidate for the big scary open surgery (more about that here). It’s getting harder and harder not to pre-worry, people.
My plan is to get a few things done here – work, laundry, taxes, yada yada – and head back to Ann Arbor in a day or two. And I’d REALLY like to write something for the Gazette other than our medical crises.
I’ll tell you what, though. We’re not leaving U of M Hospital until Tim feels good and ready to come home. And of course, we’ll push for them to check that aneurysm before we head north. There’s only so many midnight ambulance rides people should have to endure. If only U of M Hospital wasn’t four hours away. I know a lot of Traverse City people can relate.
Here’s a Not-So-Funny Postscript: At the Munson Emergency Room, the consulting vascular physician was the one who botched Tim’s first aneurysm surgery in 2008, setting us on this nightmare journey (let me know if you want his name – happy to name names). In the Munson ER a couple weeks ago, it was his partner who consulted. Can they not find any competent vascular docs to consult?
Anyway, Tim took one look at that doctor and told him to get out, saying that if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be in this nightmare. I had already left to come home at that point, but it’s a good thing I wasn’t there, or I’d surely have been hauled in for murder.
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So of course, I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the Old Mission Peninsula. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb