Here is a happy picture of my dad, taken as we were heading home from Panama City Beach after Thanksgiving. It's a favorite of mine because he looks so happy and healthy. However, since he came home at Christmas time, we have been pretty worried about Dad because it seems the aortic aneurysm that he found out he had in September had grown and had now become a serious condition. Surgery was recommended by Dad's cardiologist, but he warned us all that it would not be an easy fix. So the doctor made an appointment for Dad with a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Dad gave up the idea of returning to Florida for the rest of the winter and resigned himself to undergoing and recovering from this difficult surgery. By listening to the cardiologist, we had the feeling that if something wasn't done sooner rather than later, the aneurysm would rupture and end Dad's life. Even though he is 84 and has had a good life, none of us, least of all Dad, were ready for this, so the surgery seemed the only solution.
So it was with trepidation that my dad, my sister, and I headed downtown early yesterday morning to see the surgeon. Much to our surprise, the surgeon painted a less dire picture, and said that at this time there was about equal risks in the surgery and in waiting a few months for another CT scan. He wants to wait 3 months and do another scan at a different facility, where the picture may be clearer. Don't get me wrong. An ascending aortic aneurysm is a serious condition, and Dad's is large. However, the surgeon said there was less cause for worry because large people like Dad often have larger hearts and vessels anyway. He said that he will re-evaluate the situation in the spring, and then we could decide if the risk of rupture had grown larger than the risk of surgery. After I opened my big mouth and said something in the office about Dad going back to Florida for the rest of the winter, the surgeon chimed in and told him by all means to go and have a good time. The risk of rupture is only 3-5% over the next three months, not imminent, as we had thought. Dad was still not sure, but you could tell he wanted to go. He just didn't think he should in case the aneurysm ruptured while he was away from home. He said it would be more trouble for us to get him home that way, to which I replied that at that point we would have more to feel bad about than getting him home! I don't want to force Dad to go back to Florida if he will feel better here, but I truly feel he will be happier there. He loves the pool, the warm weather and sunshine, and his network of friends who have been burning up the telephone wires calling him to see how he is. He sees people every day there, and at home, he sees us, his family, a few times a week at best, and he sees friends seldom. At this writing, I believe he has decided to go ahead and go back on Sunday. We'll miss him, but I, for one, am glad he will be where he is happy. It may be his best opportunity to go. While he has plans to go back next fall, he will probably have surgery and recuperation and rehab before that time and may not feel like going then.
After the visit to the surgeon, we could all let out the breath we'd been holding and relax a little. We were so giddy that we celebrated with a breakfast out. I am so glad that Dad has gotten this reprieve and will probably take the opportunity to do what he likes where he loves being. I'm sure everyone's prayers have helped him, and we are all grateful for them. Like I said, life is good-indeed!