I am in need of prayers.
Lots of them.
For my beloved Papa Bear, The Oracle's dad.
He has been having shoulder problems lately and finally got an MRI about 2 weeks ago. The MRI revealed that his shoulder is one big ole mess that will demand surgical attention soon. Rotator cuff is the problem and it is a relatively easy surgery with a long-ish recovery.
But that's not the issue here.
It is what else that was revealed in the MRI that causes me to ask for your prayers.
The diligent doctor reading the MRI films noticed a problem with Papa Bear's aorta. Turns out he has a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm that is beyond the medical community's tolerance of 4cm. They believe it is in excess of 5cm.
Further testing is needed, starting with a cardiac ultrasound tomorrow with results within the week. For now Papa Bear is on preventative high blood pressure medication - despite his BP running a steady 120/60. This is a conservative course of action with this kind of diagnosis and we are pleased with the care he is getting so far.
Options are limited. If the aneurysm is small they will continue to treat it with blood pressure meds and frequent ultrasounds. If it's large - which is the direction the doctor seems to be going - it will require open-heart surgery.
Amazingly it is considered a routine open-heart surgery especially for someone like Papa Bear who is, in all other ways, healthy. Even so, he is nearly 80 years old and he runs himself like the bulls at Pamplona.
Never sits still, never rests, always has something to do or somewhere to be.
Mama Bear, The Oracle's mom, is a nervous wreck who is disguising it as best she can. A visit with them for Father's Day yesterday and she revealed to me, privately, her full anxiety. Poor woman is scared out of her wits and I don't blame her.
Despite all assurances about any possible surgery - and stories from friends about people they know who had the surgery and went on to live normal lives - this is a very serious situation that requires a serious approach.
Thankfully they seem to be in good hands with access to a world-class cardiac department at the UMASS Medical Center in Worcester, MA.
Papa Bear did say that his doctor was blunt about this. If he feels any pain in his chest, stomach or upper back he is to call 911 immediately. No delay. If it ruptures death will be minutes away; the pain will be the only warning sign he might get.
In fact, most people with Aortic Aneurysms don't even know they have it. It is found, like Papa Bear, thru tests for other unrelated situations.
So in fact we owe Papa Bear's life to a particular doctor at the ortho practice they are going to - Dr. Steven M. Klein. There is no way we can ever thank Dr. Klein for his thoroughness and the urgency he placed on the results of what was a routine shoulder MRI.
This man - Papa Bear - is beyond special. He's adorable - everyone who meets him just wants to take him home with them and they can't be blamed.
He's witty, funny, fresh in a non-icky way - he's flirty and fun. He's charming, intelligent in ways he doesn't understand about himself. He's generous with his time and spirit. He loves - big.
And in the 17 years since my own beloved daddy died, Papa Bear has been the dad I needed - whenever I needed him. He's been a source of solace, comfort, advise and love. Lots of purely unconditional love.
Like I said - he loves - big.
So please - prayers, healing energies, positive thoughts for Papa Bear.
And for The Oracle too - I will be by his side every step of the way but this is the first time one of his parents faces a serious health situation. He will no doubt handle it with his typical grace and patience and yet I can't help but be worried for him too.
Even more - buried in all this is a real threat to my own beloved husband - Aortic Aneurysms are hereditary particularly in what they call a "first degree" relative (like a father). In the next 5 years The Oracle will need to begin getting screened annually. Mama Bear told me about this yesterday, which I confirmed myself, and I could see the fear in her own eyes, reflected from mine.