Mike is at home recuperating and sounded good on the phone yesterday.
A "do good" man from Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines Iowa,
needs our help. He recently suffered a heart attack from complications stemming
from a long time battle with diabetes. The medical team had a plan for the 48
year old grandfather of three, but couldn't offer Mike surgery until his blood
sugars dropped to a safe level. Many hospitalized days later, he underwent a
quintuple bypass surgery, which indicates that all five of the major vessels to
the heart were diseased or blocked.
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Mike was born and raised
in Stillwater, MN, where most of his family still resides. He was born with
Legg Perthes disease, which after an early childhood of casts left him with an
elevated shoe and brace. This syndrome created understanding towards others and
their needs, and that empathy started his future career in orthotics. He has
been an orthotic and prosthetic technician for 31 years, and has been with
Hanger, Inc. for the past 13 years. I told him once over the phone, "You're an
inspiration to those children", and he replied, "No, they inspire me, each one
of them holds my heart in their hands."
The medical teams plan was an open heart surgery where the
procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Once the surgery begins, blood
vessels are taken from another area of the body, often the leg, and grafted
onto the existing heart vessel before and after the blockage. A quintuple
bypass requires more vessels than any other procedure, so multiple sites may be
used. These vessels are then used to detour blood around the blockage on the
way to the heart, with the blood literally being routed around (bypassed) the
blocked portion of the vessel. Once the vessels needed for the grafts are
harvested, the chest portion of the surgery begins with a sternotomy, the
incision that opens the chest and divides the sternum (breastbone) in half to
allow the surgeon access to the heart. The procedure is most often performed
"on pump" using a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to temporarily do
the work of the heart and lungs, allowing the surgeon to stop the heart and
perform surgery without the constant movement of the heart beating.
Mike found the love of
his life early, married her, and together they cherished raising two children
to be strong members of society. In doing so, the kids found their niche in the
world and travelled far from home to follow their dreams. I've tried to use
those same ideals in raising my own children and I hope that someday I can feel
just as successful in parenting. Now, Mike and his wife moved into the second phase
of parenting, simply standing by, being there when they call, and doing all the
things we all set on the back burner. Mike loves the outdoors, working with his
hands, fulfilling his "honey-do" list, and singing in the church choir. He is a
longtime volunteer for habitat for humanity, and plans to continue that when
his heart heals.
Mike is now at home
healing, and his wife works part time to stay by his side. Medical bills are
filling their mailbox, and I'm asking friends, family, and those who understand
his need to help lessen the financial burden. Let's give back to someone who
has given so much; let's hold his heart in our hands.