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Monday, December 13, 2010

My Heart Procedure

On Friday morning Dave and I dropped Eddie off at Cassie's. We left our van there for her to use since she'd be keeping Eddie all weekend. This was the first time Eddie had ever spent the night away from us (and of course, he did just fact, I'm not sure he missed us at all!). Then we made a quick visit to the planning department to pull a permit for replacing our windows. On my way inside, I ran into my friend, Tara, who had an ablation procedure done by the same cardiologist four years ago. We chit-chatted while Dave got the permit. Then we zoomed into Sacramento so I could check in at the hospital.

Once I got my wrist ID band on and signed myself in, we sat in the Cath Lab waiting room and watched Food Network. I was starving, but I love cooking shows so I watched anyway (we don't have cable at home). A few minutes into Paula Dean's show, Dr. Stark's nurse came in to tell me that they were behind so my procedure wouldn't be until nearly 4pm. Greeeeeeeeeat. So she let us leave for a couple of hours. The obvious thing to do would have been to get a coffee at a cafe to pass the time. But since I couldn't consume anything (other than small sips of water), my mom and I decided to drive around the McKinley Park area of Sacramento to look at all the pretty, old houses in the area. Dave went home to get some sleep since he was recovering from a head cold and needed the rest.

At 2pm my mom and I checked me into the Cath Lab Holding Area, where they took my weight, height, blood, etc. I changed into a hospital gown and got settled into the bed. Since it was a "holding area" the beds were all in one room with curtain separators--so no TVs or anything entertaining. I was dying inside because I could hear, see, and smell all the other patients and their families eating lunch. Good thing I brought my book to distract myself! (I also blogged from my phone and sent a bunch of silly pictures of my IV site and the ugly no-skid socks I had to wear to my dad, brother, and Dave). Seriously, what did people do while waiting for surgery before the advent of smartphones with mobile internet?

This paragraph might be TMI for some folks, so consider not reading if you're crochety, old, or whatever. While in the holding area I was prepped for the procedure. My nurse had a razor to shave my groin area (two of the catheters would go into my femoral veins in my groin). She looked and said, "wow, you did a good job!" Haha, I told her I'd recently had a bikini wax. My mom was there and was flabbergasted: "Julie, why did you have a wax?! Was it for this procedure? Or were you planning on going swimming in the winter?" I told her that I often get a bikini wax, it shouldn't be that surprising. My mom was still so was hilarious. The nurse laughed and said something like, "Oh, you young people, always staying nice and trim. This is just how your generation operates!" God, my mom is SO OLD.

After what seemed like forever, the surgery nurse came into talk to me and have me sign some papers. Dr. Stark came into see me and said, "Ah, Julie. Last but not least." I said, "Yes...I hope not least!" He said it would be a super quick procedure (1 hour) if he could find the faulty neural pathway. If he couldn't find it, however, then it could take up to 6 hours (!) to poke around inside my heart looking for it.

Then I was wheeled into the cath lab.

The cath lab was very much like you'd expect...if you expect only what you see on medical TV drama shows. It was super cold so once I was on the table, they mounded hot blankets on my upper body. First they slapped adhesive electrical "patches" on my back. The only thing that weirded me out was that they tied my hands to the sides of the table so I couldn't move them. They said that a lot of patients (mostly guys) try to cover their groin during the procedure. Haha.

I remember chatting with the nurses and techs about the ages and temperaments of our children. Then the nurse said she was going to start the medication. She said I'd see spots (I didn't) and start to feel strange. I immediately felt like I was floating up above the table. The swabbed my groin with freezing cold liquid to sterilize my skin--she said the doctor will hopefully only have to use catheters there, but there was a chance he'd have to use another vein as well, near my right clavicle (turns out he did have to enter through my shoulder). A few minutes later she said she'd give me the next dose. From then on I don't remember a thing. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled back into the holding area where I saw my mom sitting in a chair waiting for me.

I had to lay down flat for a while until some of the meds wore off. Then I got to have some juice since I was famished. The nurse elevated the bed so I was sitting and brought me a tray of food. I quickly posted on my blog and Facebook so people would know I had survived the procedure, then dug into my fried fish dinner. About 5 minutes later I started to feel really faint, really quickly. My mom ran to get the nurse and as they were approaching my bed the heart monitor alarms started beeping because my blood pressure had dropped significantly. They gave me some atropine and made me drink a soda for the sodium (weird, right?).

The holding area closes at 8:30pm so they transferred me to a proper hospital room upstairs to recover. My new nurse, Leslie, said I'd have to stay until about 11pm--and that I'd have to show her that I could walk around first. I really didn't want to spend the night because I didn't want to have to pay for it (my insurance covers 90% but it still adds up fast!).

Unfortunately, I had another fainting/low blood pressure spell in the hospital room so I didn't get to go home that night after all. I nearly fainted and wanted to puke when Leslie tried to get me up to use the bathroom. She gave me some anti-nausea medication via the IV and I felt SO MUCH better after about 5 seconds. My mom laughed and said, "Yep, she's back to her talkative self so that medication must have worked!" Since I couldn't get up to pee, I had to use a bedpan...that was um, interesting.

My mom left around 11pm so she could go home to bed. I didn't get much sleep that night because the right groin puncture site was swollen and with the nurses coming in every few hours to get my stats it is hard to sleep. Luckily, by the middle of the night I was able to walk to the bathroom alone so no more bedpans for me!

I didn't have my cell phone because it had to be charged at home--since I didn't expect to be spending the night I hadn't packed it. The phone in room only accepted in-coming calls so I had to wait until about 9am when my mom called to tell her I was ready to be discharged. Of course she wanted to take a shower and Dave wasn't even up yet so I had to wait until noon to go home.

We were all hungry when we left so we stopped at Beach Hut Deli in Davis for a Pig Kahuna pulled pork sandwich. Lucky for me, my mom has a handicap parking placard so she was able to park right in front of the deli. I was light headed just walking in, but got to sit down quickly.

Once home I napped and then we watched Killers while I knitted a dishcloth for my mom.

I was told to stay off my feet except for showering and using the bathroom for 1-2 days. Ug. Staying static for more than 8 hours makes my lower back hurt so I have spent all my daytime hours on my heating pad.

On Sunday we had a yummy breakfast at Cafe Bernardo's downtown, then did some shopping at Walmart and Target. Both stores have wheelchairs...isn't that crazy? I felt so retarded being pushed around the stores, mostly because I didn't look ill. We bought favors for Dyani's upcoming baby shower and a few Christmas gifts. Dave ran into Michael's to get my a set of circular knitting needles. Once we got home we watched Letters to Juliet while I started knitting some monster pants for Eddie.Cassie texted me when Eddie woke up from his nap...Dave wouldn't let me go out again ("You have to just take it easy!") so he and my mom fetched Wadamus and the minivan. It seemed like it took forever for them to get back. I wanted to see Eddie!

Eddie just stared at me when Dave brought him inside. He snuggled into my lap--and remarkably he stayed STILL so I could breath him in and kiss him soft hair. I had a big blanket folded up on my lap so he wouldn't hurt my puncture sites. I'm not allowed to lift him yet, but I tried to keep him out of the nursing position so he wouldn't try to nurse. (I had to wait 3 days to nurse him so the meds would be out of my system.) After about 10 minutes he was off my lap and playing as usual.He had LOTS and LOTS of fun at Cassie's house over the weekend--they went to cut down her Christmas tree, rode on a sleigh (a tractor dressed to look like a sleigh), went out to pizza, bought Santa jammies, etc. We're seriously SO lucky to have such a great sitter!

And now I have a nasty head nose is raw from blowing it so many times and I can't sleep laying down because my sinuses don't behave in that position. I wish I could sleep breathing through my mouth, but I wake up every time my mouth gets dry. least my heart is healthy now!


mu rye uh said...

when did you get a van? How did I not know this? LOL Girl talk before I got married came up on shaving and lets just say my SIL and myself were the only ones who thought it was normal to take it all off. ANd when I was prego with Andrew the midwife was like 'you don't have to do it' and I was like 'I know'.

Kelly said...

The picture of you and Eddie cuddling is soooooo cute! He might have had a ton of fun at Cassie's, but he still missed his mama :D

I'm glad everything went well and I can't wait to see how the monster pants are coming along!

steph.kelley said...

Thanks for posting the whole saga — it is nice to feel so connected to you during a trying time like surgery. Thank heavens you are all fixed now. :) Kudos to Dave for trying to keep you relaxed! I love it! xoxoxo

Kait said...

holy cow what a procedure. all your recovery reminds me of my c-sections and makes me not want to do it again. sorry you have a fun! but i'm with dave....TAKE IT EASY! glad the procedure went well!