Monday, November 7, 2011

The Gory Details

On Wednesday, I had a heart ablation.  Here are the gory details...

I arrived at 5:30am.  Why?  Beats the hell out of me.  The cath lab workers didn't even arrive til 6.  And I had already pre-registered.  But anyway, we were there at 5:30.  Waiting.  Poor Vol Fan was a bundle of nerves.  Like to the point of throwing up - several times.  His lost his father during a cath procedure back in 2002.  So he was SCARED!!!  Evidently I was scared as well since I left an "If I Die" message to my closest friends!  But anyway, there we were.  Waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.

I finally was called back around 6:45.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  The nurses did their prep on me - yes, I am now sporting a Brazilian!!

I finally was moved to the cath lab around 8am.  Once there, they started hooking me up.  All manner of electrodes and oxygen and placing me in the correct position in the machine.  About this time, I asked the nurse what would happen if I needed to pee.  I got my first introduction to peeing in a bed pan!  The nurse had to turn the water on in the sink to help me to go!

Then it was time for the procedure.  At this point, I was only very slight sedated.  I had to be awake while they were pacing my heart.  If I was too heavily sedated, they might not be able to put my heart into it's bad rhythm and thus not be able to find the bad set of nerves.

The doctor told me I was going to feel a sting and then pressure.  I asked if it was a bee sting or a hornet sting.  He laughed and assured me it was a bee sting.  The cath lab assistant was behind him, shaking his head that it was closer to a hornet!  To be honest, the 'sting' wasn't that bad.  It was the pressure that followed that hurt like crazy!  The pressure was him pushing the catheter into the vein in my leg.  I was able to feel the catheter moving up through my abdomen into my heart.  It was very unsettling.  Not painful.  Just weird. 

Then the pacing began.  The doctor would send electric impulses to my heart and 'map' the nerves.  As he mapped, it went into it's bad rhythm.  I heard the doctor exclaim "Beautiful!  Just beautiful!"  Apparently, I have a very good looking bad rhythm!  He then called the others in the lab to come over and look at my rhythm.  I even turned my head and could see (and feel!) the location of his instruments in my heart as well as the rhythm on the monitor!

About this time, the pacing became increasingly uncomfortable.  I picked a spot to concentrate on while trying to breath deep.  I finally had all that I could take and told the nurse who told the doctor who told the anesthesiologist to put me completely under.  And I was out like a light!

I woke up a couple of hours later in recovery.  The surgery had taken about 3.5 hours.  And then the fun began.

Post surgery, I had to lay flat and not move my legs in any way.  I have never experienced such pain.  I had NO idea just laying flat could hurt so bad.  I was hurting so bad that I was crying.  Vol Fan was able to alleviate my pain some by rubbing my back.  But it only helped a little.

And then it was time for more fun.  It was time to remove the tubes going into the veins in my groin.  They made Vol Fan leave and he was NOT a happy camper.  HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, THE PAIN!!!!!!!  Not only the removal of the tube but since the tubes lead to the major artery in your leg, the nurse had to apply pressure directly to the wound.  And not just a little pressure.  She was pressing with all her might.  And she pressed.  And she pressed.  And she pressed.  And she pressed!

I now know that I had a standing order from my doctor for pain medication and I did not have to experience this.  My nurse was not exactly 'Miss Bedside Manner'!   She never even offered anything to manage the pain.  The nurse under her direction came in to assist while she was pressing.  She was the one that said I could have medication.  It was all I could do say a feeble "please"!  She immediately brought a shot and put it into my IV line.  Oh the relief!!  More tears but this time from the cessation of pain.

Once both tubes were removed and the bleeding stopped, I was moved upstairs to my room.  I was still in major back pain and still couldn't move my legs.  After another hour of excruciating pain, I was finally able to move to a 45* angle.  That was such a relief!  Plus some more drugs added to the relief :)

Finally at 9pm - 13 hours since the ordeal started - I was able to move my legs.  I cannot tell you the relief I felt!  Everything was just peachy throughout the night!

The next day I was scheduled to leave.  As they were working on paperwork, I got up to get dressed.  Next thing I know, my nurse (Lynn, the one I loved!) was knocking on the bathroom door, instructing me to get back in bed.  Apparently getting up had caused my heart to go crazy!

So she called the doctor.  Who ordered another EKG and an echo cardiogram!  So much for going home early!!  Finally the tests were run and the results were in and we were finally able to head home later that day!

Now we are home in recovery mode:)  I am moving a little slowly.  I can occasionally feel my heart give a little flutter.  The doctor said this is normal.  The bad nerve is still trying to fire.  It will take some time before it learns that it can't.  So hopefully, the flutters will become less and less.  As long as there are no problems, I will return to visit the cardiologist in mid-December for a follow-up.

Until then, we heal.

And today, Vol Fan is having surgery on his hand.  When it rains, it pours.  More on that tomorrow....


Lisa said...

So VERY glad that's over for you. You're one strong cookie!!

Linda said...

Oh my, and I thought my brain surgery was bad. At least I slept through all of it, and had morphine when I was coming out. I'm so glad your procedure is over, and you are on the road to recovery.

Praying Vol Fan does well today, too!

Busy Bee Suz said...

You poor thing...this sounds so NOT fun, but necessary. A heck of a way to get your first brazillian. :)
I am glad it is all behind you....and now you have to be THE nurse for VolFan. I hope his surgery goes smoothly and you are both back in fighting shape for the holidays.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Thanks for the details... I am so proud of you for doing so well during such a rough surgery.. God Bless you, my friend...

You and I both need to tell each other to take it easy.. It's only been 6 days since my hernia surgery ---yet I 'expect' to feel great.. I do NOT.. I feel better --just not great...

I do have question about your surgery. Is this something which should never happen again ---or is it something you may have to do again sometime????? I hope it was a one-time-deal..


George said...

I hope Vol Fan doesn't have to go through the agony you went through. I really don't know which is worse -- having the surgery or being with the person having the surgery. Regardless, I'm glad your procedure went well and I hope both of you have a speedy and complete recovery.

Desert Survivor said...

Glad you're on the road to recovery! Both you and Vol Fan take care!

Mental P Mama said...

Now we need to know about Part 2. Are you back? xoxo

Snooty Primadona said...

Anytime the medical people tell me there is just going to be *a little pressure* I know I'm going to freak out because it hurts like Hell. I feel for you, my friend.