Hello, friends of Bill Hartley! Due to the overwhelming amount of concern for and interest in Bill's recovery, we decided it made sense to put updates on a blog where you all can check in at your leisure. Please feel free to comment on posts - we'll pass along all of your messages to Bill.
The background: Bill called for an ambulance at 2 AM on Saturday (Oct. 31). The ambulance took him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Shortly after he arrived he lost consciousness and had to be intubated for help breathing. Within a few hours they had found blockages in his left anterior descending and right coronary artery, which they were able to partially clear and support with three stents and a balloon pump to help his heart pump.
They moved him to the cardiac care unit and got back test results indicating that his heart attack had been massive, with a lot of damage to the heart resulting. Saturday night he was in terrible shape - his lungs were full of fluid, his blood pressure was very low despite being on maximum dosages of medication, and we were being prepared for the worst. Around 1 AM, his heart began to beat erratically, without actually providing a pulse, so the doctors had to do chest compressions and administer electrical shocks and more medication to knock his heart into the right rhythm. We were very lucky to be at Northwestern, in the CCU, when this happened - the room was instantly full of specialists and they were able to respond to the situation incredibly quickly, which is important, because it lessens the chance that there was significant further damage during that time. After that they were concerned that his heart might do the same thing again, as often happens in these cases, but we were lucky - it has now been about 36 hours since it happened and his heart has maintained a steady rhythm. The next day they started him on a number of other fairly aggressive treatments. One, called Arctic Sun, lowers his body temperature to about 90 degrees to allow his heart and brain time to relax and regenerate while his metabolism is slowed. They were worried that his blood pressure would drop and they would have to discontinue the therapy, but he held steady overnight and this morning they started warming him up. His lungs are also clearer now, which is good news.
Unfortunately, we got some bad news this morning as well: his heart function has decreased somewhat over the course of the last day, which is affecting his kidney and liver function (and they have already been damaged by the original heart attack), and they think that the balloon pump they installed on Saturday morning isn't enough. The next step is what is called a tandem pump, an external pump that will help his heart get blood to the necessary organs to allow them to recover, and take some pressure off the heart. The procedure is not terribly invasive, and they will be beginning it an hour or less from now.
Our good news for today is that we learned that Bill was at least somewhat conscious when he came to the ER, and that the amount of time his heart was in distress that one terrible night in the hospital was limited, so the doctors are somewhat optimistic about the degree of any neurological damage. That has been a huge concern for us and we're very grateful for that new information.
Bill's condition continues to be somewhere in the stable critical range, and he is in no way out of the woods, but his track record so far is pretty amazing - he's done much better than the doctors thought he would the night he had to have his heart re-started. We just keep hoping he will keep defying expectations, and we are very grateful for the crack team at Northwestern who are helping him to do that.
We will try to update this blog when we have new news. Since Bill is not conscious and we can only have two people in the room at once, we are asking that friends send their good wishes and love from the comfort of their own homes for the time being. He will be delighted to have you all visit when he's ready for visitors, and we'll let you know when that is. In the meantime, please play or listen to some awesome music on his behalf. And quit smoking, okay? It's bad for you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you from Bill's family.