Tim Giago: Surviving open heart surgery and Cabbage Pod the cat

Tim Giago. Photo by Kevin Wooster

Open heart surgery and a cat named Cabbage Pod
Notes From Indian Country
By Tim Giago

A friend of mine called and said he had been told by his Indian Health Service doctor that he had to take tests for artery blockage in his heart. He was uncomfortable and even a little frightened by the prospects.

He is a man of 62 years so I would say he is lucky that his heart problems were discovered at this stage in his life. Most of the problems we experience in later life with our hearts are caused by bad habits (smoking and drinking) and by bad diets (too much fatty food) or undue stress. Stress and these bad habits eventually cause plaque to build up in the arteries in and around the heart causing blockage. The blockage can cause a condition called angina. Angina usually causes severe pain in the chest when exercising or exerting oneself. This happened to me occasionally when I was walking long distances in airports or when the plane had landed and I was pulling my luggage across large parking lots to my car.

As my condition worsened so did the angina. I ended up taking nitroglycerine tablets when the pain grew intense. One day I was scheduled to go into surgery at the Rapid City Eye Institute for a detached retina and while I was on the gurney hooked up to monitors prior to going into the operating room, the nurse attending me called a physician and they studied the heart monitor and suddenly they stopped the tests and disconnected me from everything. I was told that my heartbeat was extremely slow and they were taking me over to the cardiac ward.

So I was very lucky that while being examined for an eye operation, the exam revealed a deeper heart problem. I was taken to the examining room and hooked up to a lot of instruments, blood drawn about every hour or so and asked a lot of questions. One doctor was about to listen to my heartbeat when the crew that draws the blood arrived. The doctor said, “I’ll be back after the vampires leave.” It’s funny how you remember mundane things like that when you are facing one of the biggest threats in your life.

Read the rest of the story on the all-new Native Sun News website: Open heart surgery and a cat named Cabbage Pod

(Contact Tim Giago at unitysodak1@vastbb.net)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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