On the morning of June 27, Stephanie, my wife of 15 years and mother of two, underwent a common heart valve replacement operation. Aside from the congenital defect of her aortic valve, she was completely healthy and doctors assured us the surgery risk was minimal. But by the end of the day she was on life support in extremely critical condition and remained that way for the next 23 days. The mechanical valve had been implanted such that it blocked one of her coronary arteries. The mistake was not corrected until more than 6 hours later, depriving her heart muscle of blood the entire time. We had her med-evaced from Honolulu to Stanford Medical Center on July 4 where she was placed at the top the heart transplant recipient list. Unfortunately she never regained the strength to undergo another heart surgery before her condition worsened even further. With every option exhausted, I had to make the agonizing decision to have her removed from life support. She passed away only a few minutes after the machines were stopped on Thursday, July 20. She was just 46 years old.
Since then, our boys and I have gotten back to a mostly normal routine of school and work. We’ve had tons of support from family, friends and countless people we’d never even met before. Now it’s time to start getting back to the things that make us happy. For me that means wrenching and crawling, or at least thinking about it for now.