The Traveling Steve's

Sleepless in Seattle!

Just a quick update to the blog as it’s been almost 2 months since I last posted from Vancouver, just prior to our Princess Alaska cruise. I will post more later but in the coming days and weeks, but unfortunately I had to have major open heart surgery during this trip, and have been in Seattle since being airlifted there from Ketchikan, Alaska back in September.

I have been slowly recovering here in Seattle after major heart surgery, and a recovery stay of over a month in the hospital and another couple post weeks in the Hyatt Regency (shown above from our 45th floor room), getting therapy and antibiotic treatments, and other tests there. Even after the month long hospital stay, I’m still needing lots of therapy and building my strength back so I can walk. The hospital stay was exhausting, and even staying at the Hyatt post-hospital stay required daily tests, on-site therapy and/or nurse appointments, blood draws etc so it’s been very tiring as well. I get very out of breath when I’m on my feet, so I’m and not leaving the room much, but I can walk short distances of several steps to the bathroom or in the hallway or room, either with or without the walker. Still, I’m on my way to recovery over the next few weeks and months and am happy to be alive!

In the last post in September we were having s great time in Vancouver, and did in fact board the Grand Princes for our 12 night cruise to Alaska the next day. We had a nice few days initially aboard the ship, and had a nice port day together in Skagway. Steve (DOS) and I have both been to Alaska several times, so it was nice just sailing thru Alaska in our aft-facing suite admiring the beautiful scenery. We especially loved sailed thru Glacier Bay, which was spectacular!

Unfortunately by the time we got to the port of Sitka, I was feeling rather winded when walking even aboard the ship, so I stayed aboard and encouraged DOS to go into town, which he did. Of all the ports we stopped at, I was looking forward to Sitka as I had not been there before, and had read about it’s interesting Russian heritage and architecture and cathedrals dating back to the 1800’s. By the time DOS got back from his walk about around Sitka, I needed to visit the shipboard doctor, so we both went to the onboard Medical facility.

It was the smartest move I’ve ever made, and most likely saved my life. For whatever reason still unknown, my aortic valve that was replaced last year had failed, and I would require a major emergency repair of this to correct it. I had similar issues earlier this summer on our trip to Norway, and was hospitalized in June with s blood clot and a pacemaker installation, and these symptoms were similar but much more extreme.

To summarize the rest of the last two months, while on the Alaska cruise, I was admitted to the ship’s onboard hospital for two nights until we reached the next port of Ketchikan. I went thru a lot of tests, all of which points to my heart. I must say, I was quite impressed with the ship’s hospital-like facilities, and while there I received ICU-like care aboard from the awesome staff until we could get to the next port of call, which was Ketchikan, two days later.

Once in Ketchikan I was met by ambulance and carried off the ship in a stretcher in the rainy weather. Not the way you want to debark a cruise ship, especially with all of the fellow passengers watching.

DOS and I then spent the day at the small Ketchikan Hospital, where I had an echo, x-ray and a few other tests done. Unfortunately there was not a Cardiologist on-site, so the doctors had a virtual conference to their sister hospital in Bellingham Washington.

I ended up being airlifted that night to Bellingham via private lear jet. Huge tip: ALWAYS BUY THE BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE, which we always do – the airlift alone was probably mega-thousands of dollars, which fortunately we didn’t have to pay for as they billed the insurance directly.

We had a two hour night flight from Ketchikan to Bellingham with 2 pilots, 2 paramedics, DOS and myself, and only a couple of our bags due to space requirements. Our other 4 pieces of checked luggage from the cruise had to be sent home to Florida where they are hopefully still waiting for us even now..

Once in Bellingham, I was in the hospital there 3 nights while we met with the doctors, nurses and staff about my options. I would require open heart surgery (again not even a year later from my last surgery in September 2021), and the issue was finding a hospital to do this complex valve replacement and restoration operation.

The Cardiologist at Bellingham initially had a problem finding availability for my surgery and hospital stay in Washington State, but got me into Swedish Hospital’s Seattle Cardiac unit three days later, where I was again re-located to Seattle, this time via an ambulance for the nearly two hour ride.

I was in Swedish Hospital Seattle for over a month, where I underwent a major 14 hour (overnight/next day) surgery, and spent another 2 days sedated before coming to. The hospital doctors, srugeons, nurses, technicians and staff were absolutely outstanding in every way, and made DOS and I feel at home, even though we were on opposite ends of the country some 2,500 miles from home.

Anyway, there’s way too much detail to write here, but it’s now October 11th, and I’m in the Seattle Airport (Alaska Airlines code-share lounge with American) waiting for our first flight home to Florida via Dallas (DFW). As luck would have it, we’ve been delayed two days already due to Hurricane Nichole in Florida, and today out flight is running four hours late, so we will have to overnight tonight (Friday) in DFW airport.

I’m doing much better since the surgery, however have a long way to go still in terms of energy, strength, cognitive ability etc. I get tired out very quickly, and am what they call a “Brain Fog”. I haven’t been up to doing simple things like Facebook, emails, and more complex things like these posts, so these will be scattered out quite a bit for the near future. I do want to document some of my hospital days, and other experiences along the way such as our hotel stay stat at the Hyatt, and will when I’m more “with it” and and some of my brain fog lifts.

So for now, it’s afternoon here in Seattle, and yes I’ve had quite a few sleepless nights since I’ve been here. I’ve really had a hard time sleeping and am quite exhausted. I’m writing his best as I can, so sorry for any typos. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and well wishes. And especially to DOS as I couldn’t have done anything without him being here for love and support.

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