Thursday, November 6, 2008

Healthy Heart!!!

I wasn't going to post anything about this until it was over, but yesterday I underwent a heart catheterization at Geisinger Medical Center. Over the last two months, I had two positive stress tests (one regular, one nuclear), so they recommended a heart cath. Well, let me tell don't know stress until they tell you that they want to go inside of you and tickle at your heart! Here's my reaction when the doctor told me:

Yes, that was taken at the cardiologist's office after he told me about the heart cath. (I really should not be left alone in the room after you tell me something like that...I'll find something to do so I don't sit there and dwell on that great news you just told me!)

See what I mean...I even played with the little plastic heart while he was gone.

So they scheduled me for the cath...yesterday. My appointment time, 7:30 am. Noel and I get there after very little sleep the night before. They take me back to "prep" me for the procedure at about 7:20 am. Nurse Tina tries to get my IV going...not so successfully! Ouch!! She mumbles to herself about how she doesn't understand why it's not working and decides to move up my arm and try again......Holy Crap!! Ouch already Tina!! She still can't understand why it's not working and calls over another nurse. They decide to bring in the "IV Team". It was like I wasn't cooperating enough, so they had to send for back-up!

The lady from "The Team" gets an IV going in my right hand, no problem. I'm finally "prepped" and wearing nothing but a hospital gown and some booties. ( I was quite the fashion statement!)They bring Noel back to be with me before they take me back. The nursing assistant comes by with my paperwork. "Blah, blah, blah...risks...sedation...1 in 1000 chance you can die...sign here please". Huh? So the odds that I'm gonna die are greater with today's procedure than say, getting in a car accident going home? Yeah, sign me up for that!

Around the corner comes my cardiologist. He stands at my bedside, takes my hand and says "I am so sorry, a heart attack came in and I have to take him first, it's going to be a while". I of course ask him if he's being funny this early in the morning and after he assures me that he's not, it sinks in that I have a long wait in front of me. Soooo...Noel and I spend the next four hours watching bad tv on a 7 inch screen.

Finally, at 11:30, technician Heather comes to tell me they'll be taking me back soon. So at 11:55, I kiss Noel goodbye and they wheel me off to the operating room. They take me in and start swabbing me, draping me and setting up the machinery. Very nice people by the way, we're all joking and having fun, but there's that part of me saying...hello? You guys know I'm fully awake here? You're gonna do yucky things to me and I haven't had any "happy" medicine yet! So, the cardiologist comes in and I ask him "You doing ok? You get some coffee after that last heart attack guy?". He assures me that he's ready to go and orders me some happy medicine. Woo hoo! I can feel it going through my IV because it's very, very cold. Before it gets up my arm, they're giving me local anesthesia in my groin area, where they're going to go in. So now I have a hot groin area and a freezing cold right arm. Really, really weird.

Doc says "ok, gonna start now". In my mind, I'm thinking "what would they do if I said 'nevermind, I really don't wanna do this anymore'?" I don't have time to think of the answer because I can hear Doc saying "We're looking at your heart now". Wow! You guys are fast! I get up the nerve to look at the monitor. Something very surreal about the whole thing...laying on a table, feeling like you had one too many glasses of wine and watching your heart arteries fill up with dye while your heart pumps it through. It's going ok until tech Heather says "ok, a few extra heart beats now...". I'm sorry? Oh! Scary! I felt my heart doing this thing like it was jumping rope. I did NOT like that! Next thing I know, Doc says "ok, all done". Really? Cool! "But first...make sure you don't move or tense your stomach muscles". Well, I'm sorry, but what's the first thing you do when they tell you not to do something? You do it! Doc says again "Don't tense your stomach muscles...take deep breaths. You're going to feel a lot of pressure". Apparently, he's putting the "plug" into my femoral artery just like you would the cork in a wine bottle...pushing it in as hard as you can. Ok...this is just too weird for me! And there's Doc, standing next to me telling me the good blockages! I try to take in the information but it's hard when he's standing there with my blood splattered down the front of his gown. Tells me my coronary arteries look "pristine". Most of me is very happy, but there's this little part of me saying...are you kidding me? You just put me through this for nothing? I'm pretty sure I'll get over it though. Good to know that your heart arteries are "pristine"!

So, after laying completely still for two hours (ever try eating a turkey sandwich laying flat on your back?) and doing some post-op stuff (walk around the nurse's station, pee by yourself, etc), I was allowed to go home. I am recuperating rather well and am only a little sore. I'm not allowed to lift anything more than 10 pounds for a while and cannot over-exert myself, which I find to be the hardest part. It took everything I had to convince myself today not to finish the laundry or the painting in the living room.

Bottom line: I learned two things from this experience. 1) You really should follow up on any and all health concerns. It may not always be good news, but there is a peace of mind knowing what's going on with your own body. 2) No patient should see the inside of an operating room while fully awake! You should always be given a lot of happy medicine BEFORE they wheel you in and you should not wake up until you're in recovery. Call me an old-fashioned girl, but there's something to be said about the old days when they just "knocked you out" for everything.