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Your Health: Saigon Kid Undergoes Triple Bypass Surgery

By Ken Yeager

In case some of you may have wondered what has happened to the that Yeager kid who seems to have something to say about everything on this site; no, I have not died and gone to H….(I’ll leave the rest of the word to the thoughts of the reader).

The fact of the matter is that I have been ill but will be home in a few days.  As some of you know, I usually spend three months of the summer working in my old office and yes, I did the same this year, returning home on the 1st of Oct.  However, after some quick visits to various doctors, by October 15th, I was flat on an operating table and underwent triple bypass heart surgery followed by four weeks in a rehabilitation clinic (where I am now as I write this, departing on this coming Wednesday).

I’m still in shock that I needed heart surgery.  Here I was, 66 years old and not taking a pill for anything other than minerals and vitamins and suddenly being told I need heart surgery.  Unbelievable.  Fortunately, I did not suffer from a heart attack but just some pretty rough pains in my chest (which I must admit started last winter but I ignored – as my wife says, typical man thing).  Seems it is quite possible my condition is generic as my Dad passed away in 1986 with heart disease.  Needless to say, I have asked my sister and son to get checked out soon and do so every five years to hopefully prevent them from having such surgery.  Stints are so much easier if you can identify the problem early enough.

So my dear Saigon Kids, I will be back with my witless comments in the near future once I regain control of my left little finger (makings hitting the A, Q and Z difficult).

I wish all of you a good weekend, a good holiday period and good health.

Ken

25 comments to Your Health: Saigon Kid Undergoes Triple Bypass Surgery

  • Ken – Thank you for your update. I, for one, had become concerned about you after not hearing from you for so long. Wishing you all the best for a complete and speedy recovery. You are in my prayers as I’m sure you are in the prayers of all Saigon Kids.

    Wishing you and your wife a wonderfully blessed holiday season.

    (((BIG HUGS)))
    🙂
    Bob

  • Les

    Ken,
    Sorry to hear about your difficulties. My older bro gad the same procedure about 15 years ago. Kind of shook me up a bit. None of us are getting any younger…
    You might want to look at a book called “The 10% Solution For a Healthy Life” By Ray Kurzweil. It has helped me tremendously.
    Take care and get well!
    Les

  • mimi

    Glad to know you got through it all…and feel good now.
    And now go easy on saurkraut and sausages-lol-
    Take care!
    Mimi

  • Mike McNally

    Ken, just hang on until the next Tet starts. Then I can legally wish you Luck, Prosperity and Longevity. It will be smooth sailing from there. LOL…Mike

  • Bruce Thomas

    Ken’s experience is a message for all our friends to heed. “Fortunately, I did not suffer from a heart attack,” he writes, and I can relate to that, and I encourage others to be vigilant to the signs.

    Although Ken’s symptoms were none too subtle (“some pretty rough pains in my chest”), my own symptoms three years ago I almost overlooked. On a visit to my doctor (to assure he’d renew my various senior-citizen prescriptions), I almost forgot to mention them to him until he was ready to leave the examining room. As we wound up the visit, I told him that on the 400 meter walk from my office across campus to the classroom building, which involves only a very slight uphill climb, I was experiencing some labored breathing together with a burning sensation underneath my jawline at the end of each day’s walk. He had me come in a couple of days later for a special dye study of the left side of my chest that involved sitting motionless in a chair while a device mapped my heart. The technician told me the results would be back in 2-3 days once they’d been reviewed at a nearby teaching hospital. Early the next morning, driving to campus, my cell phone rang. It was the doctor’s office (which didn’t have my cell phone number on file, I knew … they’d called my wife at her office to get it) telling … not asking … me that they’d set up an appointment with a cardiologist and to get over there, “stat!”. The upshot: a quadruple bypass for me! But like Ken, the beauty is that there’d been no heart attack.

    I’m glad you’re on the mend, Ken. Keep up your rehab exercises. Whatever post-surgery discomfort you’ve had, that memory will fade as you enjoy the benefits of your wise physicians. I hope the rest of you are listening!

    Bruce

  • Bruce Thomas

    Oh, just a final thought: If your doctor writes on your paperwork the letters “SOB” don’t take it personally. I finally figured out his notation actually meant “shortness of breath.” 😉

  • Harold

    Get well soon Ken.

  • Brian Wickham

    Welcome to the zipper club for men! I had the same symptoms as you 15 years ago and got sent to the hospital right away. Mine was a quadruple and I didn’t think anything could hurt as much as that did the first couple of weeks or so. But I’m sure you have already noticed that every day you feel better than the day before. Hang in there – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how soon you are back to normal.

  • Suellen Oliver Campbell

    Dear Ken~
    So glad to hear from you again. I have been missing the “trip columns” you usually write before and after an adventure and wondered where you were and why such a long trip this time!

    A trip to the hospital is NOT what I thought you were enjoying. Flat on your back is not such a fun place to be, but so happy you got fixed before a heart attack! My brother did the same thing and we are thankful his doctor took his “just a little twinge” comment seriously.
    Everyone says they have more energy post-surgery and never realized they were sluggish until they got more oxygen to the bloodstream. Hope you have a fast and full recovery and enjoy the holidays to the max!
    Suellen

  • Sarah J Rogers

    Ken,
    So glad you are recovering from what could have been a real, real bad situation. Do what your doctor and your wife tell you as they both know best.
    Warm aloha from The Garden Isle,
    Sarah

  • Bruce Giza

    Hi Ken,
    I joined last week so you don’t know me but I’m a fellow Saigon Kid from ’59-’61.

    I hope that you feel better and you are out walking and rehabing soon.
    I watched my father go through it and my thoughts will be with you. Remember…
    You’ll feel better when it stops hurting 🙂

    Take care.
    Bruce Giza
    1st INFANTry,Cub Scout division,
    third grade 1961,Saigon.

  • Mike Dunn

    Good to hear you are on the mend, Ken. Hang in there and keep those witty comments flowing. I think since I last wrote a note we lived in San Antonio. Yen and I moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, in June, 2009, and are enjoying life at the Gulf Coast. We still have the home in San Antonio, in the event of another killer hurricane. Haven’t had a bypass yet, have been playing racquetball 3 days per week, and I always thought shortness of breath came with old age. I mentioned it to my health care provider, and she slapped me with a battery of tests, which I apparently passed. I’ve got hypertension, atrial fibrillation, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and obstructive sleep apnea helping me keep things interesting. But, I think most of us that get to live this long have similar ailments. My knees aren’t as good as they were on the Teenagers team, so I have to keep using them as long as I can. Luckily, there are quite a few old farts here who play racquetball, as well. So, at 66, I’m one of the younger regulars. Yen, at 67, runs about 6 miles every weekday morning along the beach here. She loves the coast. If you’re ever by this way, please stop by and see us.

    Mike Dunn
    210-310-8294
    165 Daisy St.
    Biloxi, MS 39531

  • Kay Merkel Boruff

    Ken, take it easy; follow the doctor’s orders–and eat lots of chocolate.

  • Cathie McIntyre

    Hi Ken,

    It’s so good to hear from you again and learn that you are keeping up your sense of humor. I’m thinking about you and wishing you well.

    Cathie

  • Richard Murphy

    Hello Ken,

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Richard

  • Ruth Matteson Blackmore

    Ken,

    I too wish you a speedy recovery and so glad you got to the doctor in time. We are all getting older although we still think of ourselves as teenagers in Saigon. Hope to see you again one of these days. Go easy on the turkey dinner!

    Ruth

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Thanks for all of the kind comments and get well wishes. As Bruce said, heed the warning signs.
    I am very pleased with the treatment I have received here in Germany. Not having had this experience before, I have no idea how things are done in the U.S., but here, all was great,…… well, with the exception of the food in the hospital and with a bit of improvement in the clinic (I’ve lost 7 kilos). Had some killer looking nurses and doctors too, which raised my temp and probably helped with the healing process….LOL.

    Just for my personal information, what does a triple bypass operation cost in the US? I realize that costs vary by city and region, but would anyone venture a figure for me? I am currently under the opinion that medical care is less expensive in Germany than in the US, but I’m guessing. No facts to backup my opinion.

    Wow, Thanksgiving…forgot all about it…Oh well, there is always next year (I hope).

    Hugs to all – Ken

    [ Ken – I don’t think there is really any way to know in advance what it would *actually* cost because of the many variables that come into play. It is one of those situations where the *actual* costs are not known until after the fact and the total bills have been received.

    But, here are some approximations:

    Hospitalization average about 5 days, surgical suite, staff, etc. – around $130,000.

    Surgeon’s fee: $30,000 to $50,000

    Consulting cardiologists/surgical assistant, follow-up in cardiology office – $4,000

    X-ray procedures – $500

    Consulting Specialists and X-rays – extra $$$

    Physical therapy – Extra $$$ (many patients opt to conduct their own home therapy because it is cost prohibitive without insurance that covers it.)

    Medications, monitoring and follow-up visits/check-ups/treatments, etc – Extra $$$

    Roughly speaking, probably in the neighborhood of $200-300,000 when all is said and done.

    Bob

    PS: I’d venture to say you have A LOT to be *thankful* for this year – 🙂 – Rock Onnnn … Saigon Kid! ]

  • Elizabeth Warner Respess

    Ken,
    I am so glad to read of your successful surgery. Sharing your experience goes a long way towards alerting others to the very real possibilities of their own fragility.

    No matter how broken down I become, I still think I am the younger version of myself. However, Tuesday will be the the one year anniversary of my surgery for breast cancer. I was one of those who figured that, with no family history, I could leave it up to my annual check-up. Guess what…I discovered a 5cm lump a year and a half after my last appointment. Chemo, radiation, and surgery took care of the problem, leaving me with a healthy respect for preventive care and proactive early detection methods.

    If you can share some of your post-surgical experiences, it might help others to understand that bypass surgery isn’t as creepy as imagined. Of course, if it was creepy, scratch that last comment.

    Have a mellow and relaxed recovery.
    Liz

  • Ken,

    Wishing you a rapid recovery!

    Roy

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    Well, I’m home again and feeling pretty good. Weak in some areas such as my left arm and now that my chest muscles (such as they are) nerves are healing, just sniffing can hurt. But as I said, doing well. More witless comments in the near future. Ken

  • George Baggett

    Good to hear you’re doing well. I had a heart attack two years ago, and a stint installed to open a blocked central carotid artery. Total cost was $90,000, and my insurance company rescinded my policy. Negotiated a settlement for $20,000. Medical costs and insurance could be a topic that takes up the board.

    Regards on your recovery. As for the learning experience, I’m now convinced the near vegan diet is something we should all evaluate. It is difficult to maintain, especially with travel, but eating less meat and processed foods – corn products… is a path to eliminating circulatory problems. Since my stint was installed, I have continued a rehab policy of working out three times per week, avoiding salt, sugar and meats. I had a steak about a month back, but will not eat hamburgers and junk meats.

    Wish all a great holiday season, and hope the best health to kids and vets who visit this site.

  • Shirley

    Hoping for your quick recovery.Wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday season!! Best,Shirley

  • Cay Drachnik

    Glad to hear you are recovering and are home now. Cay Drachnik

  • Maile Doyle

    Ken, as you were going through this, I was being “Grammy” in Virginia for my son’s newest child, born November 15th. So, let me add a belated SO GLAD YOU ARE DOING WELL wishes for you.
    I hope your Christmas and New Year celebrations are just what you wish for and can handle so soon after major surgery.
    Best regards, Maile

  • tom rushton

    Hi Ken, and best wishes along the recovery road. I have had about 20 stEnts (with an E),
    mostly in cardiac area and legs, even one in abdominal area. But that’s much better than passing away.

    Good luck,
    Tom Rushton
    Vietnam 1966-1973

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