Monday, January 31, 2011

Doing good!

Still doing great.  He has increased his activity time!!  Life is resuming a normalcy.  I actually went back to work today for a 1/2 day--it was pretty hard to leave him and I think that I called home 4 times, but it was good to be back at work with friends!!  I am working 1/2 day tomorrow too and just got the call that Kaitlyn's school is cancelled-- nothing like returning to normalcy in a BIG way!  I'm happy though!!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Week Post Op. Update

Hey everyone, Rob here.

I came home six days after surgery and just took my first real shower since the operation.  It felt good.  Percocet makes me high but is necessary as I have some pain when I cough or sneeze un-expectantly.  It was also nice to sleep in my own bed with the whole family home.

It is clear that I have had an awesome support system available, and apparently didn't recognize this until it was greatly needed. Family, church, friends, police, hockey community and so on.  Very much appreciated.  Tom Bickel for President! A special thank you to those who have supported us with food as well, I don't feel we are worthy, but it has been so helpful to be able to heat and eat.

Exercise has started and the treadmill arrives today. I really don't feel all that bad.  I'm just lucky I guess.  I have been warned several times over not to push things and to take my time during recovery.  I feel a difference in breathing and have noticed a distinct change as I am no longer light headed.  Everything makes sense now, as far as past symptoms and stamina, that a complete diagnosis was made.  Maybe everyone should have a Myectomy, a Cox-Maze IV procedure, a Pericardiectomy and a Patent Foramen Ovale Repair.  Just a walk in the park.

Thanks for everything,


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We are home!!

He is finally home.  Its been a long, tiring, emotional day and Kaitlyn isn't even home yet!!!  Looking forward to a quiet night at home!!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SHout out to the Bickels!

Also, need to say a big THANKS to the Bickels for organizing the Care Calendar!!!!  You guys ROCK!!!!  Glad to have you as friends.

Still looking good for tomorrow!

Plan is still for home tomorrow!!  Everything still looks great and I know Rob will heal better at home with his girls.  So excited to think that this time tomorrow we will all be home!!! 

The meals started-- I feel so spoiled!!!

My brother in law, Lee fixed some things in the kitchen for me and my dad and sister, Missy, painted it for me!!  Thanks to their help and my moms babysitting, Rob is coming home to a clean house with a lot of ongoing projects already finished for him.  We are so blessed with an amazing family that will do anything for us---including paint my kitchen because as a coping mechanism, I remodel!!!

Uncle Robbie got to talk to our nieces on the phone the other night so hopefully they are not as worried about him and can see him soon!!  I can not tell you how excited Kaitlyn is to see her Daddy!  She has been a trooper through all of this but misses Rob so much.  We have tried to gently explain that Daddy's heart had to be fixed (and that she needs to take it easy on him for awhile).  She has talked to him every day but has not seen him yet!!!  Again thanks to my family for assisting in keeping her occupied and entertained.  Also thanks to the Zlatics, especially Mike who gave up part of his birthday so Kaitlyn could have a play date with her BFF.  And thanks to my cousin Val who took her to the Magic House today, when she REALLY needed the break and distraction.  Those of you who know my mom and dad know how lucky I am!!!!  I could never thank them enough for all they have done.  One night Kaitlyn announced out of nowhere " I really love my Nana."  I couldn't agree more!!  I don't think that I totally grasped all that she has done/still does for me until I became a mom and I could not do my life without her.   

Once again, we can never thank everyone enough for all of your ongoing support of the Wetzel's-- we have decided that in the spring we are going to have a party to celebrate Robs health and try to thank everyone!!   A lot of you have been asking about visiting--  once we get a routine established at home, we will let you know and I know Rob would love to see everyone!   

Hopeful to update tomorrow from home..........the three of us!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Discharge to home is in sight!

Surgeon in today and things continue to look great!!!  They are talking discharge on Wednesday!!!  Nurse Carrie can take over at that point!  We still have a long rehab road to go but it would be wonderful to get this stage over!!!!!!  Rob's recovery has been nothing short of amazing-- I think that his poor heart must be rejoicing to be free of the straight jacket!!!!

Another good day!

He was moved last night to the step down -  He is in room 7236.  Physical therapy saw him today for the last time b/c they have nothing more to so for him- has done stairs, etc.  Pacer wires are now out and seems like all is positive.  Everyone that comes in tells us how lucky we are that this was caught and taken care of!!!  Surgeon should be in this afternoon and I am hoping can tell us what else needs to happen before HOME!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sorry about the delay......

Sorry about not updating yesterday, the Wi-Fi in the hospital took a day off!!  He is doing great!  Likely moving out of ICU today.  Central line, chest tubes, arterial line and foley are out!!!  I am absolutely amazed by Rob-- he is asking to walk further in PT than they are wanting to go, doing better than anyone expected at this point.  His spirits are up, making the medical staff laugh!!  Continues to be amazed by all that are praying for his recovery.   I am sure that we are here til next weekend, but will have a better idea tomorrow!   

Friday, January 21, 2011

He was up and walking!

He was out of bed all day and walked 640 feet with the Physical Therapist.  Once he is on his feet, he is great but getting out of bed or a chair is pretty difficult.  After his walk, he was pretty wiped out so hopefully he will sleep the rest of the night.  All seems to be as it should at this stage-- doctors and nurses keep telling me that at least!! 

Kaitlyn and I are enjoying a much needed night in our own home- PJ's are already on and going to eat and watch movies in bed!!! 

Thank you so much to whoever shoveled the driveway and sidewalk-- what a surprise that was!!!  So wonderful to be so taken care of!!!

The day after...

Much better today!   Vent is out, so he is awake and talking!!!!!!  In pain, obviously, when coughs or hiccups, which he strangely has a lot of.   He is in a fib right now, and while he is disappointed, I keep reminding him that they said to expect that the first month.  He was hoping that he would wake up and immediately feel better-- thats Rob, not much patience!!!!  We both seem to be understanding more of exactly what they had to do and why.  The nurses in this ICU are amazing!!!!!!  The plan for today is to discontinue one of the pacing medications, get out of bed, removing the part if the central line that was into his heart (thats done) and continue to use the insta- spirometer (sp?), which we are doing 10 times every hour and he has already increased the ml wanted today!!  Hopefully the surgeon will be around soon because I have another page of questions for him!!! 

For all of you who are asking-- I am holding up okay!  Got a good night sleep last nite (thanks to some meds) and feeling okay today!  Coffee shops are back open so that helps!  I love that he is so alert so that we can talk about things and make decisions togeher (i.e., where Kaitlyn is going, etc). 

Overall, my main thought today is that  God is an amazing GOD---  He led us right where we needed to be to save Robs life, even though I had doubts and questions along the way.  I know that God is thinking, "Girl, when will you ever learn who is in charge here?"  Lesson learned!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Finally was able to go in and see my man!  They are trying to wake him up more now and will attempt weaning off the vent again.  If that goes well, the next step would be to decrease the blood pressure meds and see if he can manage on his own, then temporary pacemaker and pacer drugs.  This will take place over the next couple of days.  Thanks Jim for the info re:the complications- it seems like they are think his risk is low just a worrisome complication, b/c it happens fast.  My game plan is if they can wean him and he is "stable" I will go be with Kaitlyn tonight and come back in the am--I realize that Rob probably won't realize that I am here anyway and I am most likely in the very competent nurses way.........This is a big step for me!  Keep up the prayers please, he still needs them!

Surgery done

Not quite what we expected.  WHen they got into his heart, they found restrictive pericarditis.  During the ablation procedure in 2006 they nicked his Left pulmonary vein causing the blood into his lungs and pericardium.  The blood there then calcified causing "a straight jacket over his heart."  They had to work at removing that and did a pericardiotomy.  Then did the septal myectomy which they said was not as bad since this pericardium issue was likely causing most of his problems.  They did the MAZE procedure but said that his atrium has a lot of scar tissue and was not the way they usually do the procedure so they are not sure how that will go. 

The pericard. was a bigger deal than anything else and because of that he is slightly more at risk for complications.  I asked the surgeon when I could start to feel better from what he said and he said after the next 24 hours.  He will likely be on vent/in ICU longer than thought.  I should be able to see him in an hour or so.  The surgeon thought that Rob is very lucky that he had this surgery now as this can be a fatal condition. I will update when I can


So this is the current update-- the pericardium (area around the heart) was surprisingly thick.  Possibly because of the other surgeries and pneumonia/infections that he has had. They said cleaning that out alone will greatly help me.  They had just started the MAZE procedure and still have the myectomy to go so they said likely several more hours to go. 

They've started!!

Well, they took him and so they begin.  They should be calling me in 30 min or so to let me know that they have made the incision and started.  Will try to keep updated on here-- again no cell phone reception but if you have to get a hold of me I think that you can call the 56 ICU waiting room and get me! 

I am doing okay!!  Main problem at the moment is that the coffee shop is not open due to weather and those of you who know me know what a crisis that is!!!!!

Keep up the prayers!!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Things went good today!

After a day of much sitting and waiting, all pre op tests are complete and GOOD results.  TEE this am showed that the mitral valve was not leaking so no repair/replacement needs to be done.  Cardiac cath done (many hours later) and no blockages or other abnormalities.  So no other heart issues to be concerned about.  Surgeon likely to be back by tonight but should be pleased with all of this. It’s nice to have some good news before going into the surgery tomorrow. 

He's back in the same semi private room tonight and I am actually going to stay at the Parkview Hotel at Barnes so that I can be there at 5:30 am for pre op, just in case of snow.  Also I want to interrogate the surgical team in the morning to make sure that they are feeling good and got a good night’s sleep. 

I did not get internet/cell phone connection in the waiting room so I couldn't update earlier. Every time I had a chance I would go to the bridge where I could get reception—once I would get into range, my phone would be beeping like crazy from all of the text messages/voicemails--- IT was great!!  WE feel very loved and supported!!! 

SO I think that we are as ready as we can be for tomorrow—I have my prayer shawl ready (thanks Angie R).  I know the Wetzel’s will be lifted up in many prayers tomorrow and it means so much to us.  Will update as I can tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We are in!

Well, we are admitted.  Today is bloodwork, IV heparin, chest x rays and ekgs.  Only took 2 1/2 hours to get a room, so not too bad.  Not a private room but we are working on it. ( I am not above bribery.)  Since Rob and I are germ-a-phobs, we have wiped the room down with bleach wipes.  We are waiting for the cardio-thoracic team to come give us the game plan for tomorrow.  He is scheduled for a TEE (transesophegal echocardiogram) and a cardiac cath, so we will see what the young residents have to say.  I love being at Barnes with all of the "students" (sarcasm here).  The fellow comes in, followed by all of the residents, who all look 12 to me.  I've always said that it looks like a group of penguins.  Luckily this is what Rob is used to so he doesn't mind having 10 people listen to his heart for learning purposes. 

I think that overall, we are both in pretty good spirits.  Yesterday was a hard day, knowing it was our last “home day” for awhile- to steal Kaitlyns phrase.  Obviously, it was hard for him when we dropped Kaitlyn off today, but now that we are here and proceeding, so things are better.  Thanks for all of the encouraging calls, texts, messages, etc.  Sorry that we have not returned them but please know how much we appreciate all of the positive thoughts—it really helps!
            Had a visit from Jerry Hayes, pastor from church today, who helped remind us that we are not in charge.  Time to let go and let God (to borrow the AA phrase).  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Here we go

I'm checking into Barnes tomorrow at 10 AM for pre-medication.  Wednesday will be an exploratory catheter procedure to map out the exact dimensions of my heart, and Thursday is the surgery.  They are estimating a release on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week if everything goes well. I'm sure I will be a bit out of it due to medications begining on Wednesday, so the postings will be coming from Carrie. I will try to check email or text messages from my phone if I can but the ringer will most likely be off. Thanks again for all of the well wishes and prayers.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Care Calendar For The Wetzels

Hi Everyone. This is Tom Bickel, I am long time friend of Rob's. Like you, I am hoping and praying for Rob, his family and the people that will be working on him.

If you are looking for a way to express your care for The Wetzel's during this time, we would appreciate your participation in the Care Calendar that has been established. This is a meal prep calendar for dinners over the next several weeks. You would be surprised how much something as simple as a meal can help during a time like this.

We really welcome your help. Also, if you know someone who also might want to help but may not be aware of this, please copy the link below and send it to them. Here is the link to the calendar.


There will be a cooler on the family's porch for the meals to be left in. All of the specifics are on the Care Calendar, or you can contact me if you have any questions at 314.575.3394.

Thank you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Last Day of Work for a while

Rob here.  It was my last day of work for a while, probably until early April. Three days off and then I check in at Barnes on the 18th for premedication. I had to finish strong at work so I went ahead and wrote my 5th traffic ticket since 2001.  (The light was red for a long time before she entered the intersection.)

Today, Carrie told Kaitlyn that I had to go see a doctor next week and that I wouldn't be home for about a week as I had to have some tests done on my heart.  This is the hardest part as Kaitlyn associates hospitals with "Grandma" and my mother just passed in August of 2010.  She was upset at first but then was told she will be able to see me after a few days and she seemed to lighten up a bit according to Carrie. It's great to have family.

I'm hoping to have a little family time this weekend prior to checking in.  I have a little "fear of the unknown" or unexperienced I guess. I am anxious for a successful outcome though.  Thanks for the added support, things should go well.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hey everybody

Rob here.  Thank you all for the well wishes and prayers.

I'm a little nervous about the surgery but I am sure things will be okay.  I'm more concerned about Carrie's stress level and not being able to see Kaitlyn for a period of days.

This may seem like an extreme procedure but I feel this is the best option.  In fact, there is a higher risk of a negative occurrence if I don't have the procedure done.  We have been quoted complication rates of less than one percent and the guy doing the procedure is one of the best in the country. My age and lack of other health problems also lowers the complication rates even more.

Prayers for our family are welcomed and I appreciate the words of support I have received thus far. A successful procedure will likely produce a run at the 2012 N.H.L. Draft.


My new blog

So this is my 1st attempt at this blogging thing so if you have experience and have any hints, please let me know!! 

I thought this would be an easier way to keep everyone updated on Rob's progress as opposed to email, Facebook and phone calls.  As some of you know, Rob is scheduled for Heart Surgery on Jan 20 (Next Thursday) at Barnes.  He will be admitted on January 18 for 2 days of PreOp testing. 

Just to give a little history, Rob was diagnosed in High School with Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM), which causes a thickened Left Ventricle.  Recently, this has led to increased problems with irregular heart rhythms.  He has had two catheter ablations to try to correct.  Over the past year he has had more symptoms- edema, shortness of breath and so the decision was made to pursue a surgical option.  He will have two procedures at once, including a Septal Myectomy (to decrease the size of the thickened septum so that he will then just have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, but without obstruction), a MAZE procedure (Cryogenic clamp Ablation in the atrium which ultimately should fix the irregular heart rhythms by blocking errant electrical signals).   He will likely be in the hospital 5-7 days post-op and then recover at home!!!

So that's where we are currently!!!  I will keep everyone updated via this blog and feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested!!  Please pray that this all goes as planned and Rob can get through surgery and on the road to health!!!!