Heart Surgery – Thank Goodness for Great Nurses!

I am in complete awe.

On January 20, 2017, I had my aortic valve replaced by a local surgeon here in Las Vegas, of which I will not name because I didn’t get prior approval to do so.

What I will tell you is that he was one heck of a professional and I thank my lucky stars that I came across this man.

Between his expertise and the selflessness of the cow who lent me the valve, (I know, now I’m really full of bull!), I am fortunate enough just 14 days later to be able to type this right now instead of in the ground somewhere, six feet under.

I’m sorry for being dramatic, but it was a possibility.

My surgeon performed what he called a minimally-invasive valve replacement by utilizing an incision that he made horizontally on my right chest muscle prior to removing and replacing my defective aortic valve with said cow valve.

I’ve got a very small incision below the right pectoral muscle where my chest tube was and an additional incision near the groin (ouch!)

However, all things considered, I’m feeling quite fortunate and if that cow were alive today, I’d track it down and give it the biggest, wettest kiss ever!

Okay, enough of that.

What I’m wanting to share today is about my affinity for the nursing profession and my experience with those that assisted my father a handful of years back and then myself more recently, but both in the ICU, at two separate hospitals.

I’m going to provide a little backstory about why I absolutely adore nurses and all that they do so darn much.

I’ve always admired selfless individuals that work hard, follow a task, and are relentless in their pursuit of achieving what they set out to.

Align those parameters with a person that’s kind, caring, sensitive, empathetic, understanding, considerate, has a great deal of patience, and significant medical knowledge, and you have yourself a nurse.

To me, that’s not even a subjective thought.  It just is.

he was hallucinating because of lack of oxygen to his brain and he was saying many things that didn’t make sense.

Back in 2011, my dad went into ICU for a condition known as hypoxia.

He wasn’t receiving enough oxygen to his brain after nearly four decades of smoking.

He lived with me at the time and man, was he a stubborn ass.

I begged him for years to quit smoking, but to no avail.

On the morning he was admitted, he was hallucinating because of lack of oxygen to his brain and he was saying many things that didn’t make sense.

I went back and forth from work three times that morning trying to figure out what was going on.

I had literally no clue until I Googled something along the lines of “hallucinating before death.”  I was obviously very concerned, particularly after self-diagnosing on the internet on his behalf, but he kept claiming he was alright.

I knew he had taken several medications for many years, so I just figured he took too much of one and he’d sleep it off.

Boy, was I wrong.

As I came home the third time from my office – which was down the street from my house – my father collapsed on the couch in my loft.

His eyes rolled back in his head and everything.

Not a pleasant sight to see, especially when it happens to someone you care so much about.

I called an ambulance and they took him off to the hospital.

I was told he flat-lined and was terminally dead upon arrival but that the Emergency Room doctors and nurses were able to revive him.

Talk about going from a real low to a real high!

To say my dad was ornery at the hospital would’ve been an understatement.

He was not easy to deal with even for me as his son, let alone for many doctors and nurses that he was unfamiliar with, especially considering the situation and discomfort he was in.

Regardless of that fact, these selfless individuals that we call nurses performed tasks for him as if it were not only their job, but their passion!

I wasn’t ready for him to depart from Earth yet, needless to say, and my dad’s health is significantly better than before his hospital stay.

I literally owe still having my father here to the professionalism of those that helped for that week and a half or so.

Let’s fast forward about five years, and lo and behold!

I, myself, at 34 years of age am in ICU for a congenital heart defect and I am in the most vulnerable state of my life.

From the moment I awoke after surgery and the anesthetic had subsided some, I felt like I had just checked into the Ritz-Carlton!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly, but not by much.

I had my own room and my own nurse that was literally willing to assist with just about anything to make me more comfortable.

I am not the type to take advantage, so I tried my hardest to keep the requests to a minimum, but I can’t tell you how comforting it was to know that someone I’d never met prior to, genuinely cared about me and wanted to be sure they made any necessary accommodation to get me back to health as quickly as possible.

Every fine detail was touched on by every nurse that assisted with my care and more often than not, each suggestion they made came with an explanation as to why, so that there was clarity around what I was being asked to do.

Talk about thoroughness!

I am on the mend now and will be returning to work tomorrow in a part-time capacity to start, which is just slightly more than two weeks after going in for my operation.

I had a follow-up appointment today with my surgeon and he said everything seems to be moving right along the way that he anticipated.

I feel like I have a new lease on life and can finally put all of this behind me!

I am so relieved, and I owe it all to every medical professional that selflessly gave their time to look after me when I couldn’t look after myself.

That, in and of itself, makes me feel special.

Not once did I feel like the “patient of the day.”

I was the main focus when I was under their care and I’d believe every patient is left feeling that same, unique way.

Remarkable is really the only word I can think of to describe that experience.


Of all of the professions I hold dear to my heart, nursing really takes the cake.

The mold is certainly broken when a future nurse is born.

They are the rarest form of special I’ve ever seen and it’s nice to know that the type of humanity they lend to complete strangers exists.

I applaud your profession and thank you with every ounce of gratitude I have.

Written by Jason Frederico, CreativeNurse Team member in Las Vegas

2017-35366  Exp. 10/17