TEE Test Update

My Transesphogeal Echocardiogram test went really smoothly yesterday. It’s a relatively painless procedure and all I have is a slight sore throat now which I’m sure will go away soon. And they drugs they give you to knock you out are fantastic. I felt really good after the procedure. I apparently asked Doctor Trippi the same question ten times, but I felt good asking it. Fortunately Stephanie was there to hear all the answers, or I’d be wondering today what the heck we talked about.

It was a little more complex than I expected; they stick you in a hospital bed and wheel it around from the cath holding area to the cardiovascular area to do the test. Any time you have to put on their clothes and they start moving your bed around, you realize this is a real hospital thing and not a simple “visit the doctor” thing. They also made me stay and eat dinner, which was pretty cool, except I was still high and ordered odd combos of stuff.

The results of the test: I cannot get out of open heart surgery. The valve I need repaired is my mitral valve, and some of the experimental catheterization surgeries they do are for other valves, like the aortic valve. So despite my insistence, they will still have to crack me open.
Also: exercise is bad for me, and I can’t do it before surgery. Elliptical machine? Bad. Lifting weights heavier than a pound? Bad. Walking up more than a flight of stairs? Bad. Carrying boxes of books? Bad. Opening stuck jars? Bad. Moving groceries into the house? Bad. Anything that involves strain? Bad. Short, casual walks around the neighborhood are okay.

The reason is that the mitral valve is anchored by strings of tissue that act like the cables of the golden gate bridge, or like the lines of a parachute. The keep the valve from being open permanently. Over time, because my valve doesn’t close correctly, these anchor strings stretched out, and one of them has snapped. The others are ready to do so, and will if I put pressure on my heart. If they do, I’ll be in the emergency room asking them for surgery as soon as possible.

Thank god I didn’t start tearing out the spare room and extra bathroom that I planned to work on this spring. Thank god I went to the doctor for a routine check up so they found this. Thank god I’ve been lazy and used the elevator instead of the stairs at work.

We weren’t able to talk to a surgeon and find out when they want to do it; it was too late in the day for that. But Dr. Trippi said that waiting around for a long time is a very bad idea. I need to get it done in the next couple of months. I have to say I agree, because if I can’t exercise or do anything I’m used to doing, I’m going to be bigger than a frickin’ house.

We have an appointment to talk to Dr. Beckman, who will be my surgeon, early on Tuesday morning to find out all the details of surgery, recovery and what day and time we need to do this.

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5 comments on “TEE Test Update
  1. Laurie says:

    Wow Steph, how scary and exciting to have to go through open heart surgery. Well, if Clinton can do it, so can you! I’m sure you will be posting when you actually do it; I just want you to know that I’m thinking of you. And btw, thanks for the xmas card. You and Stephanie should come out and visit Arizona, very nice this time of year!

  2. Angela says:

    Sending you Good Vibrations…Thank God for all the things you are thankful for and to this I add thank God that you have Stephanie and so many wonderful friends and family to support you through this! Thanks for sharing your life and unique perspective with us Steph.

  3. Susan Bryant says:

    I am having a TEE on Friday. Have you had the surgery? How was it? Would love to talk to you about it….

  4. Susan, I did have the surgery and I’m doing great.
    The TEE test wasn’t bad at all — slightly uncomfortable, but only for a bit. The medication/anesthesia was great.
    The recovery from the surgery was pretty tough, I have to admit, but I got through it fine.

  5. Jeanne says:

    would you be able to see a tumor in the bronchi from a TEE test. My husband had one done a few years ago and they saw something but didn’t know what it was. A year and a half later her was diagnosed with cancer in the bronchi. I have always wondered if that was what they might have seen in the TEE. Thank you.

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