First, when we left Charleston we decided to drive up to NY. We wanted to change our airline tickets with US Airways, but the change fee cost more than the tickets had (!) so we took less money and rented a car one way. We didn't have to worry about luggage this way, and it gave us the ability to stop in Washington DC for a couple of nights and visits the museums and monuments.
Pio was feeling out of breath most of the time as we walked around and I was glad we had called ahead and made an appointment with the cardiologist he had when we lived in NY We were thinking he'd schedule him for a stress test. Wrong!
The cardiologist said that with Pio's symptoms (they were predictable, repeatable, etc.) he needed to go straight in for the cardiac cath. OK, then we started thinking that Pio might need a stent because he was often out of breath with little exertion--and it no longer seemed obvious that it was his asthma acting up.
Long story short--the catheterization showed four blockages--including one in the main descending artery (the "widow maker"--60% blocked) and he was scheduled for a bypass operation the following day, November 18. I must say the surgeon made it all sound easy and routine (for him!) and predicted that within one month he'd be able to fly home.
Well, Pio was an exception to the rule and has had a rough recovery. He spent 3.5 weeks post-op in intensive care because of respiratory distress brought on by a "strong inflammatory response". As they weaned him quickly off the steroids his lungs filled up with nearly two quarts of fluid--which required another 5-day intensive care hospitalization, leading us right up to Christmas Eve.
In mid-January he started cardiac rehabilitation while we lived with my sister in Pennsylvania. He has felt better quickly, building up stamina and muscle tone after having lost 40 pounds while in the hospital! He's put back on about 7 of those pounds and he is actually at his ideal weight now. (Let me say that some of what he lost, I managed to find.)
In any case, we're thrilled that we've finally been given the go ahead to go home to Italy. Pio is still on steroids, though at slowly-reducing levels, he needs his lungs x-rayed every two weeks to see if the fluid is returning, and he needs about six more weeks of rehab. We're confident we can get this all arranged in Italy.
Our six months in the States have been trying, scary and exhausting (4 weeks+ in intensive care, homeschool teaching) but also fun (Charleston, Washing DC, staying with family). It's been great to see family and be able to say, "We'll see you tomorrow"...or "in two weeks"...or "at the birthday party". It's been great to NOT have Dante in school six days a week, but rather make our own flexible schedule (getting him to write all the curriculum-required essays in English, however, is another story!!).
Living in Italy we are isolated from sisters and brothers and my father and cousins,nieces, nephews, kids and grandchildren. Being local to them all once again has been great. It's also been fun to catch up with friends over a cup of tea or a glass of wine...or even on the phone where the time-zone change is more easily managed if it exists at all. Here in America it's standard operating procedure to go out with girlfriends...but I've not been able to duplicate that in Italy and I miss it.
And our poor Blackie--how she's suffered in our absence!! Seriously, we'll be glad to get back to the Italian relatives, friends, garden and our pets! There's no place like home!
How goes the homeschooling you ask...and will it continue once we return to Italy? Stay tuned for another post--soon!