So we wrapped things up in southern California and made our way home. That was on a Sunday. On Monday Dad had to go to the hospital for some tests before having the angiogram. And then Tuesday came. We went to the hospital bright and early. One of the pastors from his former church was already there waiting for us. It was 6:30 AM. His new pastor came a little later. My oldest brother, Richard, was in the waiting room with us.
We had been told that the doctor would use the angiogram to take a better picture of Dad’s heart. If nothing was needed then Dad could be released that same day. If they saw something that needed to be fixed, then they could do an angioplasty (less likely) or place a stent (more likely) using the same entryway as that for the angiogram. If that was the case, then he would be released the following day. The worst case scenario was that he would need surgery.
We met with the cardiologist after the angiogram and he explained that surgery was imperative and that it needed to be soon. Dad had several blockages in the arteries of his heart. The doctor showed us at least six places that the arteries were at least 90% blocked with several of them 100% blocked.
We spent the day with Dad waiting for a hospital room. He was admitted that afternoon and we met Dr. Fung that evening. Our cardiologist, Dr. Lai, was at times brutally honest about Dad’s condition. He didn’t hold back any punches. I think all in all my Dad appreciated that. It was hard hearing the truth at times, but it was better to know where we stood. But if meeting with Dr. Lai was like taking punches from a sparring partner, then meeting Dr. Fung was like getting in the round with Muhammad Ali.
We were all gathered in my Dad’s room. It was my brother and his wife and I. I think a nurse was there. And another patient, of course. Then Dr. Lai and Dr. Fung came in. All of us standing around Dad’s bed. Dr. Fung began. “Mr. Borger your heart is in very bad shape. It is very weak. [Pause] I can operate on you but there is a chance, maybe 10%, maybe more, that you will die on the operating table and there is nothing I can do. [Pause] Your heart is in bad shape. If you survive the surgery, I cannot guarantee what will happen afterwards. There is a good chance that you will have some kind of stroke that will kill you. Or you might never walk again. Or you might be a vegetable the rest of your life. You might lose the use of your hands. Perhaps you will go blind. I don’t know. [Pause] Your heart is in bad shape.” At every one of his pauses I could see my dad’s eyes getting wider and wider. Finally, when he came to the end of his list of possible ways my Dad might die, I asked the doctor, “Excuse me, Dr. Fung, is there any possible good result from having the surgery?” He seemed startled. “Oh, yes, if I am successful (and I can’t guarantee that your father won’t die) then I think he has another 5-10 years with his heart.” At the end my Dad had to decide if he was going to have surgery or not. The doctor said that if he elected to have the surgery, they would start the next morning. It was already about 8 PM.