How to have heart surgery

My dad just had open-heart surgery to replace a poorly functioning valve. He never had any kind of cardiac “event,” just discovered the problem during checkups and follow-up visits to the doctor. This kind of surgery — valve replacement — is deemed “routine,” even though they crack your chest open.

There has been nothing routine about his recovery, though. He had the surgery at a hospital in Gainesville, Florida, recuperated there for almost a week, then rode home for six hours in the car with my mother driving. Every hour, they stopped so he could walk around. Never mind the fact that it seems incredible he could walk at all less than a week after heart surgery. He’s walking far.

I flew down to Florida over the weekend to help my mom take care of him. Unfortunately, I began feeling sneezy and scratchy-throated on the way, and by the time I arrived, I had a full-blown cold. So while my father and uncle went to the local museum Saturday morning, I stayed in bed. They walked all over the place, then came back to pick my mother and me up to go out for lunch. So much for me taking care of him.

fish house

The doctor had told my father how delighted he was to treat him, as my father was so much healthier than most of his patients. My dad was so excited to hear that he had no arterial blockage, he has treated himself to whatever he likes to eat since the surgery. At the fish restaurant we went to, he indulged in blackened tilapia, fried shrimp, French fries and hushpuppies. It is a bit surreal to watch someone who’s just had heart surgery dig into a mountain of deep-fried food.


By the next day, I felt well enough to take a walk with my dad and uncle.


We meandered about the neighborhood, stopping for an adventure or two along the way:


My uncle stealing a backhoe


Me, swimming at the filled-in place where the neighborhood pool used to be


My uncle and dad admiring a Ron Paul sign — remember him?

dad and me

And then back home, where my dad settled into his favorite chair and tapped away on his laptop, just like nothing ever happened last week. Oh, and my cold’s almost gone, so we might start training for the marathon in a few days.

By the way, if anyone likes what they see of my hometown in these photos, you should have a look at buying this house in my parents’ neighborhood:


It’s 4 BR, 3 BA, 2100 square feet, plus a 900-square-foot separate 1BR unit in the back yard. Price: $139K.

12 responses to “How to have heart surgery”

  1. hooray for your dad and hush puppies. best wishes on full recovery, though it looks like he hit it on his way out of the hospital!

  2. Scotty says:

    I love the deep fried food after open heart surgery. I think I’d go swimming in a sea of cupcakes and vanilla milkshakes.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip, but SoCal misses you.

  3. Ruben Mancillas says:

    hope your dad feels better soon

    loved the pictures, what stroke are you doing?

  4. Rachel says:

    Lisa, I’m so happy to hear that your dad is thriving.

    Maybe we can buy that 4BR/3BA as a GW clubhouse, where we can meet to share hush puppies and swim in vanilla milkshakes during Record Club. If everyone just chips in a few bucks…

  5. Cynthia says:

    Lisa, I am glad that your dad is doing better. Good luck to you all

  6. LT says:

    Ah, Florida…Could it be the location of the GreatWhatsit casa and casita? A future commune/university for our (yet to be established) yearly retreat? Hushpuppies with Lisa’s cutest mom and dad? I’m dreaming….and I’ve got, let’s see, $5 on me to initiate the fundraising for the downpayment.

  7. swells says:

    If everyone else matches that $5, we’ll have enough for TWO Florida casas! Ah, Florida, venereal soil . . .

  8. Ruben Mancillas says:

    sorry folks, but i’ve read the blithedale romance and these utopian projects don’t always end well.

  9. LP says:

    Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. Ruben, that’s the Titanic-dogpaddle-swimming-on-dirt stroke. I invented it.

    And yeah, let’s buy that house. Maybe I can convince my mom to make dinners for us when we have our secret TGW meetings. Who’s up for Thanksgiving in Flahrida?

  10. Lisa, you make me giggle. The title made me all too eager to read, and I love your newest swimming-pool invention.

    And as long as I can sleep on the porch in the warm Florida weather, I’ll pitch in my five bucks.

  11. Natasha says:

    Best wishes to your Dad, Lisa. My Mom had an open heart surgery too. She had two valves replaced though her condition was critical when she went into the surgery. Since I was her interpreter, I had to stay with her in the hospital for two weeks and go to all the procedures with her, including the ones that were too unnerving to watch. Hanging around the hospital for such a long time, was one of the strangest and best experiences in my life; knowing all of the relatives of the critical patients, going back to the same cafeteria and trying to come up a new food combination, coming back to check if there was any improvement, sleeping in an armchair, learning where they were from and all about their lives, watching people come and go, understanding the dynamics of their relationships, all of that was like a trip of a lifetime that catapulted me ten years ahead of myself.

  12. Adriana says:

    How nice, we finally get to meet your folks! Mmmmm, hush puppies….