Although B. was released from the hospital on Monday, he and my sister still could not fly home because B. still had a pneumothorax or air bubble in his lung. Flying above 10,000 feet with that condition causes a collapsed lung, death — all kinds of really not desirable outcomes.
Yesterday morning, B. and my sister went in for a pre-flight checkup and another xray to see if the pneumothorax had fled, and the nurse practitioner determined that B. had atrial fibrillation, also called afib. The electricity in the heart that sparks the four chambers to contract and push blood comes from the sinoatrial node (SA node) and the atrioventricular node (AV node). The SA node fires and gets both atria to contract; then the pulse fires to the AV node, which in turn gets the ventricles to contract. In afib, the pulses spark irregularly and ping all over the atrial chambers. Not a great rhythm for that most powerful drum in our body: our hearts.
So B. was checked back into the hospital yesterday. He’s on blood thinners and all kinds of meds. After heart surgery, there’s a 50% chance of afib. Another danger is stroke, since blood clots rush to the wounds cut into the heart. B.’s pneumothorax also has not shrunk. My sister and B. have become part-time residents of Cleveland, but they’re still lucky. B.’s alive and healing. Not everyone survives heart surgery.