Since we came to Hong Kong for our mission, I have found Elwin out of breath when he exerts himself, walking uphill or climbing steps. Here in HK, anywhere you go, you have to do both, especially when we go to Wan Chai for Church services. Just outside of the church, one has to climb 2 flight of stairs to cross the street to catch bus #104; then, after crossing the bay through the tunnel, one has to go up another 2 flights of stairs to go into the MTR to catch the East Rail to go home. Each time, after the steps, Elwin had to stop to catch his breath, and he would turn pale and struggle for air. It's not normal after going through triple bypass.
The Mission doctor, Dr. Linford suggested that he should go in to see Dr. Gloria Pei, an internist who was educated in the US. Below is an account of what happened:
Monday, March 28, 2011: Had an appointment to see Dr. Pei. Her office is at the Prince's Building at Central MTR station, exit K. It was easy to find. Dr. Pei is a very outgoing person. Within minutes after we walked into her office, she came out to greet us and lead us into her office. She received her training at Stanford and UCLA Medical Schools. She was very thorough asking for details of what happened. Elwin is a detailed person, so this fits him perfectly and he provided lots of information. Finally, she said: "This is not normal". She turned to me and asked if I agreed with her. Interesting, since no doctor ever did that in the States. Anyhow, she said that she took the liberty of setting up an appointment with Dr. Fung, the heart specialist.
Dr. Fung took Elwin in a few minutes, after we finished with Dr. Pei, to do the stress test. Elwin never passes stress tests as demonstrated in the last 15-20 years when he first was diagnosed with some heart defect in Knoxville, around 1992. In any case, Dr. Fung noticed that Elwin's blood pressure initially went up but then dropped after he was a few minutes walking on the treadmill. So he sent us to the Adventist Hospital for an electrocardiogram on Friday, April 1. We went back to the doctor's office at 2:30 for an appointment with Dr. Pei and Dr. Fung that same day.
Friday, April 1, 9:30 AM: Electrocardiogram at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital. It's a nice western hospital where they speak both Cantonese and English. The service was good and the results were sent to Dr. Fung immediately.
Friday, April 1, 2:30 appointment: Dr. Fung looked at the results and decided that an angiogram was necessary. He scheduled it for next the Wednesday, April 6. They are such proactive people. The odds were that the open heart surgery in St. George last May, with the triple bypass, may have developed a blockage. As much as Elwin has reduced his cholesterol, I found it hard to believe. I tried to probe into this, but Dr. Fung was very careful to not be specific without checking further. Elwin said that the doctors in St. George were among the best, and it had to be his body doing weird things.
I called our family doctor in St. George for records to be sent to Hong Kong. He sent the information to Dr. Fung, as requested. His administrators took out Elwin's personal information (name and birth date) and sent the file via e-mail. Dr. Fung gave us his cell phone number to call if we have additional questions. He also gave me his personal e-mail. They take good card of their patients here.
In any case, Dr. Fung told us on Friday that the appointment for surgery was tentatively set for next Wednesday, but we could cancel if Elwin changed his mind by calling him Monday. He needed to do another pre-op blood test. Elwin wasn't sure that was what he wanted, so we went home.
After many prayers, Elwin decided to have it done as planned. So, we went to the doctor's again on Monday, 4/3 to have the pre-op tests done, plus getting some medication to prepare for the surgery.
Elwin received a blessing from President Aki on Tuesday, 4/4. Elwin said that he felt even more confident about the upcoming operation after the blessing.
We arrived at the hospital at 7:15 AM on Wednesday, April 6. Many preparations were done and they took him down to surgery on a gurney at 9:10. The surgery started at 9:20 AM, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Dr. Fung sent for me to go down at around 10 AM to the surgery room.
Dr. Fung showed me on the monitor that one of the grafts wasn't large enough to pass the blood required, causing his light-headedness. So, a stent was put into the original blocked artery with our permission and understanding. God is with us. We so afraid that if it weren't the case, he would have to go home for another open heart. It would not be the same as the first one, as the success rate goes down dramatically.
At 11 AM, the good doctor called me to let me know the procedure was done and successful. Elwin is doing great! A stent about 3.3 cm long was put in to open up one of the arteries. My understanding was that Dr. Fung was able to put the stent into the native artery which was the better scenario for the long term. I trusted he would do the best for Elwin.
We know Heavenly Father was watching over him, and the blessing from President Aki was powerful. I knew, and Elwin knew, he was going to be fine. We found out too that our two daughters went to the temple to pray for him. All the grandchildren were praying for him too. This is a powerful example of prayers.
Dr. Fung just came in to do a final check before leaving. He said that everything looks good as they monitor his heart, blood pressure, kidney function, pulse, and many other functions. We are very grateful that this will be all behind us soon.
Again, Elwin has a new lease on life.