On December 3rd 2011 Tony Olivas went to the doctor for what seemed to be shoulder pain from sleeping on it wrong. Like many of us, Tony didn’t wish to be inconvenienced with a run to the hospital with just shoulder pain. But after some coaxing he agreed to go. This decision saved his life.
At the hospital he was given a shot of pain killers and a prescription of pain pills and sent home to mend. What happened over the next two days is uncertain as Tony was alone and for the most part rendered relatively unconscious. With the help of friends and family he was discovered alone and very ill.
Tony was taken to Gwinnet Medical Center where, for 3 days, they pretty much could not find his illness or the cause. After extensive MRIs, CTs and blood tests it was found that Tony had acquired staph infection in his bloodstream (sepsis). What followed was a battery of tests and an aggressive antibiotic approach to fight his infection.
Soon it was learned that Tony had acquired Endocarditis — the staph infection had vegetated the mitral valve in his heart. He was then transferred from Gwinnett Medical Center to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac and Vascular Center. The approach was once again to fight the infection with antibiotics.
More tests. A transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE test showed the vegetation on his heart was borderline operational. They decided on the “wait and see” approach. Tony was also given a nuclear medicine test known as a gallium scan, which found infection in his right knee and shoulder. After three days of waiting it was clear that Tony was in need of immediate heart surgery. The choice had come and the need so great, routine heart tests were not performed. Without immediate surgery tony would not beat the infection.
On the morning of December 21st, Dr. Douglas A. Murphy performed a da Vinci® Mitral Valve Replacement surgery—the valve was replaced with a mechanical valve. Going into surgery Tony was given a 10% chance of survival. After the eight hour preparation and surgery, he was given 50%.
On Thursday the 22nd, Tony, having remained in sedation and intubated underwent another surgery to address the infection in his knee. The relatively minor surgery lasted an hour and was deemed successful, but it stirred up a fever and the possibility of more infection.
On Friday the 23rd Tony was finally extubated and taken off sedation. He spent the next fourteen hours in and out of consciousness. On Saturday Tony was conscious and aware of his condition and started his road to recovery.
At the moment Tony is slowly recovering from a tremendous illness, heart surgery, knee surgery and a three week hospitalization. He is to remain on IV antibiotics for at least 6 weeks, rehabilitation, and extensive medical after care. His future is looking brighter daily with cautious optimism.
One week after his surgery Tony was removed from CV-ICU and placed in general medical care. He has a long road ahead of him. His spirits are high, and his will is higher.