Finally Cleared for Surgery


After being declared cancer-free, Ed found himself back in the doctor's office again.

One month has passed since the oncologist declared Ed cancer-free. Now he was back in Dr. Asif’s office for a one-month follow up.

“Well”, spoke Dr. Asif, “Have you had your aortic valve implant?”

“No,” Ed replied

“Oh,” Dr. Asif responded. “Why not? I cleared you with the cardiologist.”

Ed began to explain how he spent a week in Washington Med Star undergoing evaluation for the procedure only to be rejected because approval from the FDA was not forthcoming for the experimental implant of an artificial aortic valve by catheterization. Ed’s situation was just not critical enough for the minimally invasive procedure. However, the staff at Washington Med Star agreed that Ed needed aortic valve replacement by open heart surgery and it needed to be done very soon.

“Have you been scheduled for that surgery?” inquired Dr. Asif.

“Yes”, Ed replied,” It will be done next week at Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland.”

“All right,” Dr. Asif responded, “I will send my concurrence to Dr. Sunnergren, your cardiologist. Your white cell count has dropped since lasted month, but you are still OK to proceed with the surgery. I do want to see you again one month after surgery. You are mildly anemic and we may need to start you on an iron infusion. I will schedule you for a blood draw and visit with me. The staff will notify you.”

Ed has been through quite a lot in the past three years, and the closer it got to the date of his open-heart surgery, the more his anxiety started to mount. Ed had requested a prescription for tranquilizers, which was provided by the heart surgeon. Ed had the prescription filled but never took a single pill. That strange emotion, he has felt before, was overwhelming him. Hope was still there and comforting.

The surgery went very well and when Ed awoke from the anesthesia, all the anxieties were gone.

Ed’s recovery was rapid and Ed left the hospital after a few days and entered home care nursing. After one week, the visiting nurse released Ed from care because he had recovered so quickly. Ed thought, “It was because of Pattie my wife and caregiver.”

The past three years had been hard on her too, but she never gave up hope and supported and cared for Ed all the time. Three weeks later, Ed was back in Tunnel Cancer Center for lab work preceding his monthly follow up with Dr. Asif.

Dr. Asif reviewed the lab results and informed Ed he had become very anemic. His white cell count had dropped by 50 percent since his last visit only one month ago and was down to 2000.

“We must start the iron infusion right away. I am ordering an injection of Filgrastim today before you leave. Ferric Carboxymaltose will be given next week by infusion to help counter the anemia. We will begin monthly injections of Vitamin B12. These will all help to strengthen your immune system.”

The following week, Ed arrived for his iron infusion. As he was in the waiting area, Kimberly, one of the nurses from the infusion room, came to escort him back into the infusion room. Once more, Ed’s weight was recorded and he answered the 20 questions, while Nurse Lisa helped hook-up the plumbing for the infusion.

The infusion began slowly as always but would be increased when the nurses could determine Ed was not going to have an adverse reaction to the ferric carboxymaltose.

It was almost like “old home week” as Ed renewed acquaintances with the nursing staff in the infusion room. Soon, after about two hours, the infusion was complete and Ed was released.

There are some possible side effects to taking ferric carboxymaltose but the only thing Ed noticed was spells of vertigo, which were bothersome, but began to subside after two weeks. Ed did not like that feeling of dizziness and would recline is his chair until it passed.

Only two more ferric carboxymaltose injections to go, one month apart.

The peace of feeling, the comfort of being well, recovered and in remission was something Ed had not felt for quite some time.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”---Philippians 4: 6-7

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