Monday June 6th, Zachary Kiegerl, age 11, set his alarm clock for 4 a.m. so he could meet his Opa at the Olathe Lung & Heart Center where Opa was scheduled for open heart surgery. Zachary had prepared a card which brought tears to the old man\’s eyes. \”I love you so much Opa that I thank God for you every day\” it said. After a few more words of love and affection, Zachary added \”Be nice to the nurses.\” He couldn\’t have imagined what those very nurses were about to do to his Opa during the next 4 days: poking, injecting, pulling out and restarting lines, making him blow into an insufferable breathing device and more, all to help cure him. Had Zachary known the indignities to be inflicted on Grandpa\’s poor body, he might have offered that admonition later.
Full of anxiety, I checked myself in to what was to be extensive bypass surgery at Olathe Medical Center. By 5:25 a.m., I\’d been dressed in the ridiculous back- ventilated gown, and there should have been a warning sign: \”Those who pass here abandon all thoughts of modesty and human dignity.\” I was hopelessly captured by the inextricably events to follow that day.
Surgery began at 7:30 a.m. Later I heard my son saying \”Open your eyes Dad,\” so I blinked and saw a room full of people applauding. Noticing the big clock in the room, I saw it was 11:30. Grateful to be alive, I realized that things must have gone well; after all, 4.5 hours was the shortest time projected for the procedure I\’d had undergone. Then they told me it was 11:30 p.m. I\’d been out for 16\’/2 hours! 5 bypasses and 2 laser revascularizations had been performed on my poor heart, and I had tubes, lines, wires and catheters protruding from my body.
I found out what a superb facility our own Olathe & Heart Lung Center truly is. My original angiography was performed at the KU Medical Center, a large teaching hospital of good repute. My experience was that cold efficiency reigned there. My cardiologist referred me to an expert performing only angiography and angioplasty; who referred me to a third doctor for the major operation. Talk about specialization! Quite efficient, I suppose, but what about personal attention and care? I found K.U. too big and impersonal for my needs.
Through a member of my church, I visited with Dr. James Miller at the Heart and Lung Center in Olathe. After a quarter hour with him and a review of the Center, I was convinced he was the man for me and this was the place for me. The Center is unique in this area, and is small enough to provide individualized and intensive care and big enough for services not otherwise readily available in this area. As one example, Drs. Miller and Barnett introduced laser based venous harvesting. This procedure eliminates a great deal of cutting and sewing, and avoids much pain and discomfort. These surgeons also use laser revascularization, which, while not as good as actual bypass grafts, can restore blood flow when grafts are impossible. Only in Olathe!
The most outstanding feature of the Center is the quality and dedication of the staff. Harvard educated Dr. Miller stayed in my room until 1 a.m. the day of my surgery, and was there again at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. The next day he called in at 5:30 a.m. to check on my progress. Amazing Dedication.
Then there were the nurses. Marathon runner Linda Beezley, with multiple graduate credentials to her name splendidly assisted Dr. Miller; youthful and gentle Pat Peck got me through the first rough night in ICU. Lana McCall, also in ICU took over the next day. Sherri Walker took charge when I moved to the main floor and Lisa Wisdom, drill sergeant with velvet gloves, whose partial entertainment during my 2 days under her tutelage consisted of placing me butt naked in and out of a lukewarm shower, informed me her role was to get me out of the hospital as soon as possible. She did, I was discharged after 4 days.
True professionals, all; each giving care in the truest sense of the word, and I\’m grateful from the bottom of what\’s left of my heart.
While I hope that no one reading this column will ever need open heart surgery, if any of you do, you could not do better than making it \”Miller-Time\” with a great physician, a wonderful nursing team and a facility that all Olatheans should be proud of.