A medical miracle: How I spent my Christmas Week

As we start the new year, 2024, things took a sudden and rather dramatic turn. On Christmas day, my family was taking a post-lunch walk when my brother suddenly fainted. I was walking next to him, with the rest of the family about 30 yards ahead. My brother, David, must have been walking slower than I realized because I hadn’t noticed how far behind we had gotten.

Long story short, he had a valve replacement on January second and went home on January third. He and his wife live in Connecticut, as well as their daughter and son-in-law. Two of their other children and one daughter-in-law live here in Cambridge and Watertown. We hosted David’s wife for all but two days of this period (she went home for the weekend), and all went back to normal here as of six PM on Wednesday, January third.

There’s a lot to be grateful about as I enter 2024:

  • The surgery my brother had did not exist until ten years ago. A traditional heart valve replacement would be too risky for him. The procedure itself is sort of magical. He had a valve replaced and he walked out to the hospital 24 hours later.
  • My niblings are young adults between 29-37. They showed up, pulled together, and took care of themselves, one another, and their parents.
  • My sister-in-law is an easy houseguest under stressful conditions. We pulled together and it was good for all of us to be living together through this time.

What David wrote to his writing group, minutes before the procedure:

On Tuesday, January 2, 2024 at 6:30 am EST

By some cosmic coincidence proving that the Force is laughing at us, at this moment I will be in “the twilight zone”, there so that a team of doctors can replace my crusted heart valve with a small titanium crown with a bovine membrane, a procedure called T A V R.  (There’s an 2:30 minute cartoon on YouTube that shows this wonder of modern medicine.)

Rona’s addition: here is the link for the TAVR video. The YouTube is mostly animation with one view of a visual image of a beating heart with a guide wire in it.

I fainted while on a family constitutional walk between courses at a Christmas Day veggie feast.  When I awoke, I heard my sister yelling “call 911”. [That’s me, the sister.] Within minutes, my beloved and I were transported to Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MASS, the hospital where the King of Thailand was born in 1929.

After a night in the emergency room, I was tested with all kinds of sci-fi machines and consultations with a team of doctors.  Because New Year’s weekend was coming, the procedure was delayed until this morning.  Poor me, I only had 5 relatives within walking distance, a LA-trained princess who still thinks driving 90 miles is just going out to lunch, a beloved who got a chance to practice her night nurse skills, an online course to teach, a hospital TV, room service, visiting doctors, friendly nurses and patient care associates, streaming services to binge Julia (Child), Jane the Virgin, Trevor Noah, and Rickie Gervais, and New England KGUA writers to cheer me on.

Soon I will have a change of heart.  Wishes to all in our KGUA community for a happy healthy and peaceful 2024.  What a long, strange trip it will be.

From David Stoloff on vacation at the Mt. Auburn Spa in Cambridge, MASS

The year starts with a medical miracle. I don’t know whether that bodes well for 2024 or not, but I can hope.

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