Thursday, March 31, 2016

What is it like having a TEE and cardiac catheterization?

So, I’m SURE you’re just dying to know what it’s like having a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and a cardiac catheterization all in the same day!

Mom and I got to the hospital at 9 a.m. and were promptly ushered to the waiting area, where the wait was maybe around five minutes. A lovely woman, Renee, was at the cath lab concierge desk (yes, that’s a thing) and was wonderful and calming. I was shipped back to a corner suite where I was informed the TEE would be taking place, and afterwards I would be hauled down the hallway to the cath lab. I changed into my always stunning green hospital gown and skid-free socks and cuddled up under warm blankets due to the frigid atmosphere of the room. Roxy the Oxygen Tank was replaced by wall oxygen, and I was fitted for my very own capnography cannula. Try talking with a spoon over your mouth and you’ll get the general idea of what that’s like.

I informed the RN that I was happy to receive an IV into my right arm, but IVs into my left arm usually didn’t turn out that great with fainting and weird results and things. She skipped off to consult with the MD that would be performing this procedure after I explained my funky anatomy to her in great depth. (It turns out that the MD had already called the MD who read my original CT angiogram to confer as to exactly what the hell was going on with me. #Mutant) So, I had an IV in each arm and an itchy nose. Naturally. I also was given Valium and Benadryl. I felt a bit mellow, but that’s about it.

The MD who was doing the TEE came in, and was full of good energy and evidently very excited to be on my case. He showed the CT video to the two nurses who were in the room. One RN hooked up a double syringe to my right arm which held the magic meds, Fentanyl and Versed. They helped roll me onto my left side, gave me a lovely pink bite block (to protect the doc, they said) and injected me with the medications.

All I remember after that was what seemed to be a twirling black Rubik’s cube heading directly down my throat. As I write this, two days later, it still feels like my esophagus is pouting in a dark corner, and pudding and cold drinks are about all that feel okay going down that pipe.

For my ACLS folks out there, this might amuse you. When I woke up, I was smilingly informed by my nurse that I had questioned the MD at great length as to what his favorite color was, as that would be their key to know if I’d had enough Versed. (For synchronized cardioversion during heart issues, patients are usually sedated to the extent that they can’t remember an answer to a simple question.) He told me “blue,” and apparently I answered him correctly when he quizzed me later on. I have no recollection of any of this.

I was also informed that they had to give me almost double the medications needed because I just wouldn’t “go out.” That’s normal for me. Takes the pharmacy and a half to get me comfortable and allow tubes to go places without me going all velociraptor on people.

I remember waking up somewhere in the cath lab, looking at a monitor, and telling the second doc that I was doing fine. I bemusedly watched the majority of this procedure, fading in and out. I always liked watching the contrast going through vessels when I was able to participate in the cath lab in nursing school. Now it was my vessels they were scrutinizing, and I had a great view. The only time I was really uncomfortable was when they did the radial cath on my left arm which was quite painful and they seemed surprised when I cried out. I was given even more Fentanyl and was okay after that. I didn’t feel anything else. I heard the words “wedge” and “stenosis” and “holy shit” a few times. Turns out that my single left pulmonary vein is dangerously narrow, and will have to be stented no matter what.

I remember having pressure put on my arm and groin by a young man after the sheaths were removed. I remember Mom and Dad coming into the recovery area, and I asked Dad how his lunch went. I vaguely remember going up to the short stay room and engaging in enthusiastic conversation with my nurse up there. I dozed off and on, and dove into my dinner plate when it arrived since I hadn’t eaten anything in almost 24 hours. It was salty but delicious chicken stir fry and the bread with it was probably the best thing in the world. The five hours flew by that I had to remain on my back, and some back discomfort was all that I noticed. I didn’t need pain medications for that as I knew it would go away once I could stand up. Being able to walk after hours of lying down is a lovely thing.

We finally arrived back at the parents’ house at around 10:30 p.m. and I fell asleep quickly again. It has taken until today for my brain to feel clear(ish) from the medications. I slept the majority of yesterday and all of last night, and even had a nap today. I removed the dressings and was surprised at how sore the two puncture sites are but have assessed them and they appear normal.

The MD team are going to confer as to what the next steps are. There seemed to be some question as to the “bridge” that was mentioned by the cardiothoracic surgeon, meaning that nobody else saw a bridge. I’m not sure as to what the next few weeks will bring, but I was told that it would take about that much time for them to get their plans thought out. At least we’re through this part and on the path to something or other. Right?


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Monday, March 21, 2016

Stag Nation

I typed in "stagnation" but put in a space accidentally. It sounds like some sort of bachelor party movie, or a scary foreign country, so I left it.

It’s about time for an update, yeah?

So last week I was told that my procedures, which were scheduled for tomorrow, had been canceled. Why? I don’t know. At least they didn’t think I was an emergent case. This morning they called and I was rescheduled for next week. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

So of course, after I had that news last week, I had a mini-meltdown, just pissed off and frustrated that three months has already passed and now this is going to be stretched a little bit further. Or a lot further. Who knows. I’m just so ready for all of this to be done. Most of my frustration stems from not being able to hop in the car and just drive anywhere. I can’t get on a plane and travel to conventions. I have a recertification course coming up on Saturday and have to figure out how many oxygen tanks I need, who is picking me up, when I’m coming home, and how many pairs of socks I have to pack because maybe I’ll be spending the night. Usually I’d jump in the car with a cup of coffee, hope I don’t get lost, and listen to loud music while stuck in traffic on the way home. I don’t like depending on people to live my daily life.

In other news, I had a guy from Home Depot come out and give me an estimate on what it would cost to get rid of the horrible white tiles on my counter and install granite and a backsplash. I fell in love with a sample, "Golden Crystal," which was of course towards the high end of the cost; Mom always said I had expensive taste, and I guess I do. Everything I love tends to be higher priced. I figure, though, that I really want to LOVE my kitchen and why not spend the bit of extra money to really make it special? I spend a lot of time in there. This project will be put off for at least several months, but I can’t wait to have it started and finished. I’ll also refinish my cabinets, as they’re good cabinets and just need to be re-stained.
Nasty white tile and grout and green walls


I may have my master bath done at the same time with the same counter, since the cabinets are the same in there. That leads into backsplashing (is that a word?) above the shower, or even considering having a contractor come in and tear out the shower liner and putting in tile. I change one thing, I guess I have to change everything. This is the stuff I think about when I’m sitting in bed at night, waiting for the sleepy gnomes to take over.

This coming week I’m also going to start down in the garage, trying to make sense of some of the disaster area down there so I can clear out my storage unit. I have a lot of stuff that belonged to my sister, and I want to start putting some of it in this house (and save $80 a month on top of that). I love looking around and seeing things that belonged to my family, because they’re who and where I came from.

Today I also signed up to be a Coach for Team Beachbody. This happened because my Coach and friend Karen talked me into it (I save a bit of cash on the shakes, which I love). Actually, I’ve been doing well on the 21 Day Fix program, with extreme modifications. I’ve been following the food plan to the best of my ability, and do what exercises I can while attached to the oxygen tubing. They have this modifier on the program, and sometimes I will have to modify her modifications, but I get through the exercises one way or another. Such things like Burpees I’ll skip entirely but will jog in place or will rest, depending on what my body is doing that day. I don’t want to risk anything strenuous, but I know that it’s not good for me to just sit and do nothing all day. Try doing exercises while attached to a 50-foot oxygen tubing and let me know how that works for you. It’s a pain isn’t it? I’ve choked myself a few times already and am surprised I have ears left from the number of times I’ve yanked the tube off with my feet.  Anyways, I am not going to get into trying to make money off this, because I have other things to worry about, but do hope I can inspire people who didn’t think they could improve their health due to concerns or just getting over the fear of “I can’t do that, I’ll die.” To put it bluntly, sometimes it’s nice to have something to focus on for half an hour instead of letting my mind go places it really shouldn’t. And Autumn, the trainer, is affable. I tend to cuss at her a lot on Leg Day, but she doesn’t seem to mind. If you want the URL to my website, let me know.

So that’s about it for now. Hugs and love.

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Friday, March 11, 2016

Finally, we're moving forward!

I finally have a date set for the transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and cardiac catheterization!

March 22nd will be the "Day of Fun Times" and hopefully it won't be too much longer until we can all figure out what to do with this lil heart of mine. I'll go in for more blood work next week, but there shouldn't be issues based on the labs I had done just a few weeks ago.

Here are some explanations of what each procedure entails, for those of you so inclined. Just click on the links!

From the American Heart Association - Transesophageal echocardiogram

From the American Heart Association - Cardiac catheterization

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Reality. And then some more reality.


This has been a bit of a busy few days. Mom came down to help me do some things around the house (she says she just loves me, but I know she likes being a handywoman.) What I didn’t know, though, is that Mom is awesome with a lot of things including electricity. Electricity scares the sh*t out of me, and I was going to call an electrician to have them deal with putting in new light fixtures. The flush mount lights that “came with the house” were standard builder’s grade screw-in deals that took us about an hour to unscrew the globes. The first time I really started to hate these lights was when I went to replace burned out bulbs and just about came at the things with a hammer to get rid of them once and for all. So, I ordered some awesome fixtures and they sat in the garage for a few months. Until Mom came along, of course! The woman is going to be 76 next week but she’ll face off with any DIY-er anyday, I think.
Before: Not exact, but just as "OMG SO NOT ME!!!!"

After: Ahhhhhh.... Definitely unique and ME!

Today, I went back and forth between my surgeon’s office and my cardiologist’s office for awhile as it’s been a month since my surgery consult appointment and my tests haven’t been scheduled yet. It turns out that they don’t just want a regular echocardiogram, they want the full bore transesophageal echocardiogram (more sedation, yay) and since I’m having a cardiac cath, they want to do it all at the same time. Which means they have to have all of that approved with my insurance AND try to schedule two very busy physicians at the same time in the same place. Good times. I should hear tomorrow when they have a date for me. Might as well have both ends probed at the same time. My poor body.
Just in case you're wondering what's going on right now....

I’ve been trying to eat better, I think I mentioned this awhile back… I’m on a lower carbohydrate deal which really hasn’t been too bad. I don’t crave things like white rice and white breads like I used to. I’ve been able to lose a little bit of weight but it’s not just dropping off me like crazy, and that’s okay. I’ve been eating more eggs (my cholesterol is super) and have been trying new things. Hardboiling eggs was never my specialty, but I finally figured out the secret and they’re almost my “I NEED THIS” food now. The good thing is, they take forever to make, so I can’t just scarf them down.

And now I'm really craving deviled eggs.

Then this happened earlier this week…. Serves me right for not rinsing every drop of dish soap off of the dishes before I loaded them into the dishwasher. I ran out of salt and towels dealing with this, but everything is right in the world, and the poor dishwasher received a good amount of berating in colorful language.
But check out the cabinet handles! Mom and I rule again!

That’s about it for now. I hope you all are well.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

An update on nothing, really

I was asked today if I’m okay because I haven’t put a blog up in awhile, and the last one that was up was a bit dark (okay, a lot dark.) I’m fine.  

I’m still in the waiting game with things and Monday I will be calling the surgeon’s office to make sure that they didn’t forget about submitting my info to the interventional cardiologist, so I can be scheduled for this cardiac catheterization and at least get something the hell over with.  

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow and Monday which will be good for my soul. Rainstorms always help clear out the clouds and other assembled crap in my brain, and I wish there were more of them here in “sunny” San Diego. 

Right now my Roomba is making awful noises as it tries to climb into my cats’ water bowl.  

I’m finishing up another class for my Master’s degree. After this is over, I’ll have two classes left, including the post-practicum class to make sure that I covered everything in my capstone project that I was supposed to. This is the main stressor in my life at this point, as I haven’t been able to really work on this project due to a million things. While I could have done some work on it (I admit it), I am now stuck with the prospect of not being able to drive as well as not being able to fully integrate the project into my work environment. Being on oxygen 24/7 really does tend to cramp a girl’s style. 

The Roomba has settled down and has decided that carpet is much easier on the ol’ wheels than a lumpy water fountain base. As my mom would say, “Good boy.”
His name is Robbie.

Today I actually put all of my laundry away. I emptied the dishwasher. Little things like that make my head feel clearer and make me wish that I had done it several days ago. I still have several emails to write and go through, yet I feel as if I’ve made some progress today. Tonight I plan on watching “The Visit” on demand and enjoying some form of dinner. Perhaps I’ll have a glass of wine with it, as I haven’t had one in forever and it won’t be battling against a huge loading dose of metoprolol. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. (Mom. Ahem.) 

Speaking of Mom, she’s coming over for a couple of days next week. I’m looking forward to this as it does tend to get lonely here and we have a good time together. I’m super grateful for my friends who have popped by or texted or called, and want to send all of you some cuddles for that. My bud Christine will hopefully be coming over for dinner on Tuesday if she survives her shift. I’m sure she will, she’s a hell of a nurse.  

All is well, friends. It’s one more day under my oxygenated belt.

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