Cardiac Catheterization

The other day, I wrote about my recent stress test, commenting at the conclusion: “It was all very interesting. I should know my results in a few days, but I’m optimistic.” Well, I spoke a bit too soon on that one. The results of the stress test were rather perplexing to my cardiologist. It seems as though some areas of my heart aren’t getting enough circulation, which doesn’t make any sense to him; I’m not a candidate for narrowed arteries at this stage of the game. My blood pressure isn’t high; my cholesterol isn’t high; I’m way too young. So I’m going to have an outpatient procedure to see what’s going on, and potentially fix any problems – Cardiac Catheterization. I go in to do this on Friday and will be in the hospital most of the day. I’ll have the weekend for the 2 day recovery period.

I found all this out last week, but I had to tell my parents before I blogged about it, so they wouldn’t read about it here first and get pissed at me. I was pretty freaked out about it, but I’m calmer now; there’s not a whole lot I can do other than what I’ve already been doing – eating tons of vegetables and healthy stuff, and exercising my ass off.

The absolute worst-case scenario is that I would have to go back in and have another open-heart procedure. I survived that already; it doesn’t scare me now.

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Wow, I had open-heart surgery!

I can’t believe it. I keep walking around the house thinking “wow, I had open-heart surgery. I can’t believe it!” Then I move wrong and I believe it, alright. It’s funny, the doctors and nurses keep saying “You’re not allowed to drive for four weeks! Don’t even think about it!” And I’m thinking I’d rather DIE than drive right now, so I can’t imagine what idiots decide to get behind the wheel like this, but there must be some or they wouldn’t give that warning.

For our Anniversary, David and Garrett made us Chicken Florentine with angel hair pasta in a clam sauce, and an excellent salad. Garrett came over and served dinner for us. It was sweet and amazing and I have to say it’s too bad that they don’t have their own restaurant, because I’d totally go there all the time.

They switched my drugs from vicodin to darvocet, and the freaky nightmares went away. I’m still getting used to sleeping on my back, though, which is not what I’m used to, so I’m having trouble sleeping. It’s getting better. It’s a long story about why, but Kathy helped switch my mattresses around and she built me a platform to help me get into bed. It’s so much more comfortable.

I’ve been watching the first (only) season of the TV show Wonderfalls. I bought it a couple of months ago and saved it for this occasion. I also watched part of the Incredibles, but I did that in the middle of the night when I didn’t want to go back to sleep because of the nightmares, so I need to re-watch it because I’m sure my ideas about it are skewed. But the premise of that film is really interesting. I’m not sure I agree with all of their message. I kind of want to talk to Andy about it sometime, because he loved it so much and identified with the movie so he saw it twice.

I haven’t played Xbox because it’s a bit too much moving yet. This is the most typing I’ve done in a while, because that’s not fun, either.

Continue ReadingWow, I had open-heart surgery!

Are you nervous?

Heck yes. It’s funny, that’s the question that nearly everyone has asked me. I am really nervous. So I’m just in denial about the whole thing, for now. I’m sure I’ll lose it once I get to the hospital. 🙂

Seriously, though, I think I’ll be just fine. I’m young and strong and pretty healthy, and I know lots of folks who’ve had this done. It’s a major surgery, but it’s a pretty common procedure for the doctors, and since it’s not an emergency and I’m not currently in distress, things are really positive. I’m sure it will suck for a while, but I’ll be back and writing in no time.

For family and friends — if you’re in town, one of the main things we might need is for someone to sit with me in the evening so Stephanie can feed her cat and get her mail and tend to her home. So if you want to hang out with an invalid and watch some DVDs or play some Xbox, we’ll probably call you up.

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Surgery details and information

I go in for surgery at 5:30 a.m. this Friday at Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. 1701 N. Senate Blvd. Indianapolis, IN 46206. 1-800-248-1199 is the toll-free number to call for information.

If you want to see me in the hospital before surgery, please come at 5:30. If you are visiting while I’m in surgery, you will need to go to the main information desk to find out details of where I am. The operating room and surgery waiting areas are on the second floor of the A building. Parking garage 1 is the closest parking area.

Surgery starts at 7:30 and should take about 4 hours. After surgery I will be moved to the Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit (CVCC), which is on the second and third floors of the same building, building A. Family members may be in one of two waiting rooms — 317-923-0171 or 317-923-0170. Or you can try to call Stephanie on her cell.

Visiting hours while I’m in the CVCC are: 9:30-11:30 a.m., 12:30-3:00 p.m., 4:30-6:30 p.m., and 8:30-11:00 p.m. While I’m in the CVCC, I can receive cards and mylar balloons. Flowers, planters, or latex balloons aren’t allowed on the unit.

After a couple days, I should be moved out of the critical care unit to a regular room, where I’ll be for a couple more days. I should have more visiting hours there and be able to see people. If you want to come visit me, call the information number to find out where I am and what my visiting hours are. Or you can send me monkeys. 🙂

Stephanie will be sending some e-mail updates letting family and friends know how I am. She’ll also be posting to my Web site, so watch this spot for more information.

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April 22nd – My Surgery Date

So my surgery will be April 22nd. From what Dr. Beckman and his staff told me, it won’t be nearly as difficult a recovery as I’ve been expecting from the reading I’ve been doing. I’ll only be in the hospital about 5 days. After that I will be home, but I won’t be bedridden. I’ll be able to be up and walking around, going up and down stairs, etc. in the first week after being in the hospital. Every day after that will be an improvement. They are still recommending that I take 6 weeks off work. There are restrictions on lots of upper body exercise for quite a while while my sternum heals. And it will take me 3 months before I’m completely healed. But I won’t be bedridden, which is the impression I had.

He said that it’s a 90% chance that this will only be a valve repair, not a replacement. They will know for sure once they’re in, but he says my chance is good for the repair. If that’s the case, I won’t need to be on anti-coagulant drugs, which means that I would be able to be on the Amazing Race. No, we didn’t specifically ask about that. 🙂

He and his staff were very upbeat and positive about the surgery, and made me feel much better about it.

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Heart Matters

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Heart DiagramWhat an echo-cardiogram is.

Also, the dangers of Endocarditis, also known as heart valve infection.

I’m googling these things because I have to go get an echo-cardiogram for the first time since I was a kid. I have a congenital heart murmur, which has apparently gotten worse in the last two years.

More specifically, I have two problems: a pulmonary stenosis, which means my pulmonary valve is too narrow and doesn’t pump blood efficiently. And I also have Mitral Valve prolapse, which means my mitral valve doesn’t close completely and allows blood to flow backwards into the previous chamber, causing a whooshing sound or “murmur.”

Apparently my murmur has gone from a grade 1 to a grade 3 on a scale of 6. It’s possible that this increase in the murmur may be a result of age, or as a result of a heart valve infection that occurred when I had my appendix rupture.

Interestingly, this site mentions as symptoms two things that I do recall having: fatigue, exhaustion, and light-headedness (may result from low cardiac output) and shortness of breath when lying down (orthopnea). Hmm.

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I am so tired

I just want to go home and sleep. But even if I did that, I would have to change the sheets and sweep the floor for cat hair before I could, because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to breathe. 🙁

Next weekend I’m sleeping the whole weekend.

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Appendix Rupture

Appendix Diagram

Well, I Never Read the Appendixes Anyway

I’m back to work today and doing a lot better. I’m still not 100% and I’m pretty tired, but I’ll be fine if I can just get home and crash tonight. This past week and a half has been hell. I’m like a human pin cushion. I was in the hospital from Wednesday through Monday morning hooked up to an IV, and they had to move that around a bunch as well as take blood once a day to test my white-blood cell count, so my arms are bruised and full of holes and I look like a junkie. I hate the hospital with a passion and if I could figure out how to get out of going back there, I would. But there’s no way I can avoid it.

But I will need to go back in and have my appendix removed in the very near future.

The whole thing started back on Wednesday, July 2nd, when I had an upset stomach and couldn’t eat anything. But I felt better on Thursday, and the July 4th weekend was great. Then Sunday I had an upset stomach again and couldn’t keep anything down — I threw-up long after I had anything left in my system. But I still thought it was just the stomach flu at that point. By Monday the 7th, though, I knew something was seriously wrong and I went to the emergency room because I couldn’t get ahold of my doctor. I was completely doubled over and the pain in my lower right side was the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my life.

They decided right away that I had gall stones, even though I wanted them to rule out appendicitis and I kept telling them the pain was lower than where they were scanning with the ultrasound. They said the tests to rule out appendicitis were too expensive, and that with women over 30 who are overweight, the problem is always gallstones. But they decided they couldn’t see anything on the ultrasound because they weren’t radiologists, and wanted a real radiologist to give me one. They filled me up with pain medication and anti-nausea medication (but no antibiotics!!!!) and sent me home to wait for an appointment at Methodist East Medical plaza, which is way over on east Washington Street. The appointment was Wednesday morning, and Kathy drove me over there. By this point my appendix had already burst. It probably happened sometime late Monday in the hospital or on Tuesday while I was at home waiting to get an appointment.

To her credit, the radiologist at Methodist East realized what was really going on pretty quickly when I told her she wasn’t scanning where the pain was actually occurring. When she started to scan where the pain was, she said, “well that’s where the appendix is,” and then stopped to look at me, and left the room. I know she went to call and arrange an emergency CT scan at the Methodist South facility because she knew my appendix had already burst and I was probably in trouble at that point. So Kathy raced me to the south side, where they hustled me into the big donut tube and confirmed that I did have ruptured appendix. And they sent Kathy and I immediately back to the Methodist emergency room downtown with the x-rays of my oozing insides.

The first thing they said when we walked into the emergency room was “why didn’t you come in here on Monday when the pain started?” You should have seen the looks on their faces when I told them I had, and they sent me home.

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