Friday, December 02, 2011

More than Jesus in my heart....

I finally feel well enough to do a catch up post.
Perhaps I should borrow a title from Louisa May Alcott and entitle it "Hospital Sketches", for that is what this post will be about, for the most part.

Yes, that is my monitor screen pre-procedure, with my funky 52 pbm Brady Sinus heartbeat and other issues pictured up there. 

But it is a catch up post too.
My amazing husband cooked an incredible Thanksgiving meal for us.
Friday we went snow shoeing again.
Sunday night we had a "left over" dinner with the Utah based family members who had been gone over the holiday proper.

Bernie and I watched the mid season finale of The Walking Dead after they left.
Pretty gripping stuff...

At ten that evening I stopped eating and drinking in preparation for my next day's scheduled Catheter Ablation,
 a cardiac procedure, which was scheduled to address my arterial fibrillation and arterial flutter.
Both of those issues had been identified early this past October.

From what I understood, a doctor would be feeding wires up my main arteries and into my heart where he would identify which parts of my heart were beating out of sync or in flutter or in fibrillation or whatever and burn those areas to create scarring so the cardiac electrical pathways would be altered.

The next morning we got up early to be at the hospital by 8 am.
Bernie kept looking at me and commenting that I was awful cheerful for some one who was about to have wires threaded through my body and into my heart.

Naw.  It was gonna be just fine.
Back to work the next day...
No. Big. Deal.

Except they sent us home; requesting we return at 11 am when the doctor would arrive.

Missed that voice mail....

Well then.

Take two.

Lickity split, at 11 am sharp I was checked into a hospital room, changed into a gown and sticky pads were anchored all over my body in order to monitor my heart rhythms.
It is kinda distracting and interesting to watch one's pulse wave along on a screen, and note when the alarm fires off because the heart rate drops to 48...47...46 and numbers there about.

Bernie was absolutely delighted to discover that the hospital room had a "sleep over" couch in the room that was long enough for his 6'3" frame.

The man has done more than his share of sleeping in a hospital room watching over me while curled up in a chair or trying to get comfortable in a bed nearly a foot too short for his size.
I was glad for him too.
We have a policy in our family: No one is left alone in the hospital.
This time it wouldn't require such a great physical sacrifice for Bernie.

I mentioned to my doctor's PA that if I woke up alone and found "walkers" in the hospital I was going to be really, really upset.
He laughed, said he couldn't believe I watched that show, and wasn't it great, and yeah it would be crazy to discover the hospital was overtaken by zombies.

He promised he would get me out if that happened.

Always nice to meet another Walking Dead fan who would be willing to come to my rescue if zombies happened to attack.
Yes...I was still believing this procedure would be pretty easy at this point.
Except for a headache due to skipping my morning cup of coffee, I was feeling just fine.
Of course there still was to come the needle stick in the back of the hand to start the IV. That is never a pleasant moment, but after that...clear sailing.
A team arrived to whisk me down the hallway to the Cath Lab.  I had left my glasses with Bernie and once I was scooted off the bed and on to the surgical table, I regretted leaving them behind.
The room, from what I could see, looked like a space station lab with huge monitor screens over head and glassed in stations all around me.
One of lab team was sporting University of Utah motif spangled scrub cap.
I told him it was pretty cool, but it would be better if it had an OSU beaver motif.
"At least we are both in the Pac 12" he replied congenially.

Still feeling rather chipper, I then commented that my grad school was still undefeated this year... and gave a pause to wait for someone to ask which school that was.
I heard a snicker before the question was even posed.
Would you believe the four people attending me were University of North Texas grads, and one guy had even gotten married in the TWU chapel?
It was like old home week with a bunch of exiled Texans.
Yeah, they totally knew about how Texas Woman's University has remained undefeated in football for well over a century...
The next thing I knew I was waking up unable to breath.
I thought I was back in my room, I knew Bernie was there and a team was around me but I COULDN'T BREATH!
I tried to yell "I AM DROWNING!" and lunged to get off the bed.

Bernie said it was just like watching a Walking Dead zombie  as my screams came out ArrgghhhrrRRGGHAAAGRRR and I flailed about.

Then my right upper leg started killing me.
I managed to say something understandable about that and quickly had a nurse bearing down on a puncture located at the inside groin.

Things calmed down...I knew I had to lay perfectly flat for several hours to make sure there wouldn't be an accidental re-opening of the groin punctures where three wires had been threaded on one side up into my heart and there was another puncture on the other side and one on my neck seemed like I was now sporting globs of huge cotton batting all over my body.

I was horribly thirsty having not had a drink in over 20 hours.
A few ice chips were fed to me by Bernie and at some point I was told I was was now going to be taken back to my room.

Someone started rolling me and my bed somewhere...and then I realized I was nauseated.
I mentioned that fact.
In fact, I mentioned it twice.
Then I mentioned that I was going to throw up.

A couple of people scattered, obviously trying to find something to catch the spew; they had no success so I got to experience the wonders of vomiting while laying flat on my back while looking straight up at the ceiling.

For the second spew I did get to turn my head and there was Bernie ready to hold a small curved basin to catch the mess.
At least that is how I remember it.
I will have to ask him later it it was indeed him.
(It was.)

He has experience with me spewing in hospital settings.
During our son's C-section delivery; during a few other events...he was there for me when I needed him.

I was apologizing to everyone in ear shot for the mess on my neck and shoulders. Later I learned that cardiac anesthesia is a slightly different mix than most anesthesia so my reporting that I had not gotten sick from being put under before was not relevant to what was likely to be experienced this time.

Back in the room I was expecting to start feeling better, but no...a few more spews (how could just a couple of ice chips produce that much fluid) and then my right rib cage started hurting.
An anti-nausea and pain drug was given to me.
Didn't even make a dent in the issues.
Something stronger was administered...
And something even stronger as I was clenching the rails and jiggling my feet trying to cope with the pain.
Dilauted I wanted to say.
Get me some serious meds NOW.
I don't know what they finally gave me but I did fall asleep for a bit.

Super bummer to have them keep coming in to do what ever they needed to do...draw blood, take vitals, etc, because upon waking I was right back to hurting until I could fall asleep again.

The next morning I was able to roll over and the rib cage pain stopped.
Breathing still was not really comfortable (the inside the heart burns tends to irritate the entire the heart, which swell and rubs against everything else in the chest so each breath felt like a karate chop on between my shoulders and my chest).

Not sure why all my complaining didn't result in



The doctor dropped by and drew a nifty little sketch of all that he had done.

He assured me that I *might* have a low grade fever, *might* have some minor discomfort, and a Tylenol would fix me right up.

He lied.

Bernie set off to get a pile of prescriptions and I was discharged after a nice nurse cautioned me to watch the punctures for redness. She then went over a rather complex set of instructions on how to take the meds.

Something like drink the fluid, wait and an hour later take pills then an hour later eat, then repeat in reverse later in the day.
Something like that....

Once I was home I started to read the warning literature that came with the meds.
One would thin the blood and all kinds of dire stuff could happen with that.
One could cause constipation, while the other could cause diarrhea. is a combination like that even possible?

Blurred vision was quite possible too.

I went to bed.

Bernie figured out the dosage rhythm.

That night my temperature went up to 102.2

I asked Bernie to call the doctor's office to see if that was normal since the literature said to call if a fever reached  over 101.

Love the cliche answer we got:

Take some Tylenol and call back in the morning.

The fever slowly came down over the rest of the week; by Saturday I was almost fever free.

The pain level bounced around between unbearable and barely noticeable. 
Any quantity of food would set off chest pain as the esophagus would fill and rub against the swollen heart.

Then of course there was breathing where the heart was rubbed by the lungs.

In  one particular painful 3 am episode, I decided eating and breathing were out from here on in.

My cats did attempt to cheer me up in the lonely night hours by doubling their nocturnal jingle ball and mouse chasing activities.

They would wait until I had almost nodded off sitting upright in a chair in the living room then go thundering down the hall swatting cat toys loudly enough to wake the dead.

Day 7, Sunday, was the best day yet.
No fever, very little pain.
That was good as I was headed back to work the next day.

Work...where I had optimistically and ridiculously stated I would return to the second day after the procedure, like my doctor had suggested was possible.

I suspect that my doctor sometimes treats people that are not really human if they can actually do that.

Oh and I did I mention that when I called the doctor's office again on Friday about the fever and pain, I got to speak with his nurse who clued me in that the doctor
 have forgotten.
to mention.
That he would be gone on vacation for three weeks after the procedure.

And but the good  news, (according to the chipper nurse) was that I had gotten him to do the procedure before he left town.

The fever, pain, and totally crazy heart beat patterns that had been happening since the procedure were TOTALLY normal and to be expected.

There now.

Isn't that a good thing to know?

And won't it be a good thing for them to know once I get a patient care evaluation form that I thought their pain management skill levels totally stunk.


As I write this it has been a full week since the procedure.
I am feeling stronger day by day, had a full day back at work and am looking forward to two weeks from now when I should be better than new, heart wise.

Can't wait to start exercising and having energy again.

And I especially want to say a big Thank you to all of you who knew about the procedure as it was happening and held me up in prayer.
I did feel at peace.
I felt totally at peace in my soul.
Totally safe with my God watching over me.