May 13,14,15 & 16: Written on May 16. Surgery tomorrow, May 17 at 7 AM. Just going to view tomorrow as a long and challenging ride up and down a mt. Dirt track of course!

Thursday, May 12: Well that night, Thursday night in the ICU in Elko at the hospital, it was just hell, for the second freaking night in a row for God’s sake. Trouble was I just couldn’t get comfortable. Now my A-fib was gone, and I had a stable HR and pressure. They had injected me with something that day that brought the shoulder and chest tightness to an end within a minute. My issue was my lower GI. Man, I’m a guy who has NEVER been on meds, and I’m only guessing here, but suddenly I was talking these little pill cups full of pills 2x a day. Issue was that I felt like I had terrible gas cramps or else I was constipated. Felt miserable. So there I was again, night 2, not sleeping a freaking minute. I basically just watched the clock all night long as I tossed and turned with wires and IV’s and leg pumps hooked up to me. What’s more I was rousted every 2 hrs for more blood draws, more EKG’s and more vitals. Wow, to experience all that from this side of the bed! Such an experience makes sleeping in sodden clothing in a tent on the side of a mountain during a snowstorm where you’re freezing your ass off seem more palatable. And it is! 

Friday, May 13: So we were hoping for me to get out of the hospital on Friday to really speed up the whole travel process, but as the day wore on, what with me looking and feeling like petrified shit, it just wasn’t going to happen. Doc Badger really wanted to make sure I was looking better as well as all my vitals and testing indicating I was better, well, at least fit enough to travel on a jet. And then there was Kim was back in OH spending hrs going over every G-D flight combination to figure out how to get me home with the least amount of layover time. I mean that Friday I just felt like a limp rag with zero energy who had a monster case of gas build-up in the lower GI, who didn’t even want to talk, walk, or be social. I just wanted to lay there in a fetal curl with all my freaking cords and pumps and wires wrapped around my body. Didn’t take long to figure that we were shooting for Saturday as my departure from NV.

Now I had hardly eaten a thing up to that point since I’d eaten breakfast the morning before my Wed ride, so we’re talking like 2 straight days of nothing but IV bags going into me. I passed on Thurs and Fri lunch and dinner at the Elko hospital. Just the thought of food made me want to vomit. And look, this is coming from the connoisseur of “All you can Eat” Chinese and Indian buffets, and the king of Subway Footlongs! Was funny now to think back at Judy and Vic picking away at some of my goodies from each meal I just left sitting there. 

Saturday, May 14: Friday night….that was my visit with the Sandman by God. I mean somehow, someway I slept like 10-12 hrs, getting rousted every 2 hrs for something that needed to be checked. But nonetheless, once the test was over, man I’d be back to sleep in zero time. Felt like 100% better Saturday morning. But when I say 100%, that’s 100% better than COMPLETE AND UTTER SHIT! So in my normal world I was still fatigued, haggard and weak, but much better. By noon I’d gotten the word that I would be released. And just before that I had my last chat with Doc Badger. We chatted for a bit, him, Judy, Vic and I, and then I asked him if he could answer me one Cardio 101 question: Why, with such great blood profiles, do I have the coronary arteries of a corpse? His answer: I don’t know. Lot of theories out there he told us, genetics is a big one, but there’s more, much more. He told us of current studies that may indicate simple sugars and white flour products could play a role. But to my question, it’s still open to more explanations.

I thanked him sincerely and got myself ready to go. Managed to eat 1/3 of my breakfast that morning and then 1/2 my lunch prior to leaving. Now to all of of you at the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko, if you ever read this: You guys were so wonderful to us. Being away so far from home as we were, and to have the caring & highly professional atmosphere and services that you provided to us, that will remain with me forever! You’re a medical oasis in a very big and remote part of the US. I was so lucky to have been sent your way!

Meanwhile Kim had secured a flight for me on Sunday morning, SLC to Detroit, then she was going to come up with her boyfriend, my sometime to be brother-in-law, to get me and drive me straight to the Cleveland Clinic. All this behind the scenes stuff going on as I was still kind of in Shock and Awe from my new predicament. We left Elko at 2 PM for the 4 hr drive to SLC. If you’ve never taken I-80 through this part of the US, it’s truly crazy, what with all the salt flats and salt deserts you pass through. Just not uncommon to go like 100 miles with zero services available. 

Rolled into SLC, and found a hotel as close to the International Airport as possible, a Super 8. We ate at Perkins, where….for the first time in my life I ordered a grilled chicken salad for my entree. Man, I wanted the MEAT & POTATOS! I wanted the chicken pot pie, the fried shrimp dinner, the bloody All-Day breakfast omelets! So for me, Pete the glutton Gladden to order a damned grilled chicken and spinach salad, that’s monumental. I was able to get about half of it down. Went back to the room where I pretty much hit the pillow asap for another solid night of sleep.

Sunday, May 16: Woke to a wet and stormy looking Sunday morning in SLC. Shoveled down some of my leftover salad and then off to the airport. We were there in 10 minutes. Tough saying goodbye to Jude and Vic, knowing I had 3 hrs to Detroit and then 2 hrs by car to Clev, while they had 2K to drive in the van. Kim had set me up in First Class, so I had this papa bear recliner to relax in. No coffee for like the fourth day in a row, and man I was feeling the DT’s. I mean in 1st class I could be a drunken sailor in an open bar for gosh sake, yet I was limited to soda, water, and juices. Then there was the brekkie selection: the Omelet and this quinoa hot breakfast cereal. No harm, no foul, no one watching me, I took the omelet!

Flight went quick as I tried to catch up on the blog. Then the drive back to Clev with Kim and Mike. Turns out it had snowed that morning in Clev, just in time for the marathon! Wow, the weather out here just continues to suck. So we came straight to the Clev Clinic where Kim had begun days ago through her emails with me and those in the Clinic medical community, to expedite my entry into the surgery chain of events. Now I’d thought I’d be able to chill for a night at Kims house and go in Monday. Nope! Straight to the Clinic we went. Doc’s orders!

And then began more rounds of testing, along with meeting some of the team of docs who will be working together to facilitate a successful surgery for me. Kim hung out at the Clinic with me for a good 3 hrs and then had to go home to take care of dad. About an hour later I was on a wheelchair (still feels so… cheating) ride to the 7th floor and the pre-op suite of rooms. And wow, I’m in like this “Room with a View” of the city, with a bloody flat screen bigger than ours at home. I had this EKG hooked up to me, but it’s like a bluetooth device where I can just carry or lay next to me, the sending unit. Nurses were fantastic, got a late dinner, and was told that they’d hopefully have me on the surgery schedule for Tuesday, which meant Monday, today, would be a testing day. That meant more blood, EKG, vein & artery compatibility, MRI, and ultra-sound testing. 

Stayed up and worked till midnight, trying to work ahead in my client training workload, knowing that for at least 2-3 days, I’d not be able to sit there with computer in lap, let alone think logically. Went to bed with seven zillion things flittering through my brain. 

Monday, May 16: Brekkie followed by a flurry of activity, which included meeting the doc who helped Kim get my situation addressed, Dr. Phelan, and then the rest of my cardiac team: Dr Kline and his Cardiac Imaging Service Team, and finally my surgeon Dr. Smedira. Whooo…..talking to these gentlemen, it’s really cool asking questions and getting their responses. These are some brilliant folks. I mean they are so tuned into their gig that it’s mind numbing. Wish I had that kind of Q and A opp way more often, but then again hell, it’s my life here we’re talking about. So maybe like talking over a beer is way more preferable than it is when you’re one day pre-opp, laying on a bed with an open-back gown on?

Well, gang, I just waned to catch you all up to where I am today. I will continue this blog ONLY because I truly believe that there’s a Pete Gladden-like man out there who just might read this and note some similarities and commonalities in his health status to what I’ve just discussed about mine, because I’ll tell you what, this caught me by total surprise. Fitness alone just ain’t the cure all as I falsely believed for decades. There’s so much more to the picture, and much of it is still theory and conjecture. But wow those damned genes, they’re very critical to steering your life’s direction. They’re the ones that once enabled me to attain a VO2 of nearly 70, and at the same time they’re the same ones that could have be responsible for gradually clogging my coronary arteries. So far I’ve been a very lucky man in this brand new journey into cardiac rehab. Hell, as Dr. Badger exclaimed to me last Thursday: “You just won the Lottery.” But will the next guy be as lucky as me to catch it before a massive heart attack kills him? I feel I have to pass this karma on to the next guy. 

Probably won’t be able to blog for Tues and Wed, we’ll see, but might be a few days again till you hear from me. So I’ll say this: I’m as well prepared for tomorrow as I used to be for an A-race. Got a great Cardiac support team, got my loved ones, got all you guys out there, got luck, got a good attitude, got my fitness, got it all man. See you at the finish line come Tuesday evening……..Pete