Friday, August 28, 2009

Troubles of the Heart, Part 5

***Note- don't start here, unless you've read the first 4 posts. Here's a link to the first part.***

The big day had finally arrived.

The alarm clock told me it was time to get up when 5:15 appeared.

We got to the hospital at 6AM. We filled out all the paperwork. I was admitted and in a hospital bed by around 6:30. My blood was drawn.

I was told my procedure was scheduled for 11 AM.

Which meant I had around 4 hours to just sit there. Rachael had brought some discourse on communicating with God that had been written in the 1600's by some monk named Brother Lawrence. She began reading to me. It was actually fairly good.

I think the person in the other bed thought we were praying or chanting or something, because I heard him tell his friends that he'd went to church yesterday to make sure everything was fine, just in case he didn't make it through the day.

I then read a portion of The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. I only finished a couple of chapters but it's shaping up to be a good read. I really love C.S. Lewis. While he's most famous for his Chronicles of Narnia series, he has written some of the best apologetic works on Christianity that one could hope to read.

Before I know it, and quite a bit earlier than my scheduled 11 AM appointment with the nurse that is sure to see me naked, I'm being given Valium and Benadryl.

Things are about to get fun.

I am wheeled down to the 'operating room'. Apparently, there's been a confusion of the schedule, because they're not ready for me. But, they don't want to send me back to the 3rd floor of the hospital, so I'm wheeled over to an unused corner of the hallway, just outside the doors to the monitoring room. This room is filled with people watching monitors of what is happening in the 'operating room'.

While parked just outside the room, I hear an unusual, and somewhat disconcerting conversation.

"Yeah, we've had 2 or 3 already cancel today."

"Really! I didn't think that many people would even read the newspaper."

While this helps explain why I got in so much earlier, it does make you think. I never did figure out what they were talking about, but my Valium-affected thoughts figured there must have been a mishap with a fellow Angiogram victim in the preceding days.

But, hey, according to the law of averages, that just means mine has a better chance of going great!

While laying in the hallway with nothing but a hospital gown on, a nurse comes by. She tells me that the entire gown will have to be removed. Evidentally because hospital gowns are best-known for how well they cover you. Before I know it, I'm lying naked under a blanket that several people seem to have a need to pull up just to make sure everything's ready.

In anticipation of this moment, I made sure to shave, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of needing any help in this area.

But, as I had once before discovered when I had my vasectomy, the shaving had to be repeated.

And, of course, it's completed by a female nurse.

I'd say 'Good Times!' here, trying to be sarcastic, but I wouldn't want anyone to possibly get the wrong idea. The times we were having were anything but good.

But the best was just around the corner.

Dr. Ash Jain walked in the room. Shortly before he arrived, I was once again told what a great doctor he is. I truly am thankful that he is the one to do my procedure.

As is his manner, he gets right to work. One of the things I have grown to like and admire about him is that he gets right down to business, but seems to always explain what is going on and what I will be feeling and usually asks if I have any questions.

The only question I have at this point is how soon this will all be over.

And, of course, The BIG Question.

"Do I have buildup/plaque/blockage in my arteries?"

The deadening shot is delivered to my groin area. While this hurt a bit, it was not too bad. Next came the incision. The incision is made into the large artery you find in your groin area. Once an entrance hole is available, a catheter is pushed into the vein and then all the way up the area right below your heart.

This catheter is used as a vehicle to deliver the iodine solution dye that will then be used by the machine to look at the inside of my arteries.

As the catheter tube made its way to the bottom part of my heart, it caused my heart to beat somewhat erratically at times. I was concerned at first, but Dr. Jain told me this was completely normal.

What happened next felt anything but normal.

Dr. Jain told me that he was ready to administer the dye. This is released directly below the heart and then moves immediately into the heart and then back out. He told me that I'd feel a warm, flushing feeling in my chest.

I did indeed!

Have you ever went out sledding or playing in the snow and spent so long there that your body was chilled all over? You have breathed so much ice-cold air, that it feels like your insides are frozen?

And then you take a drink of steaming hot chocolate? You know how you can feel it burn all the way down?

Well, multiply that feeling so that you are picturing it happening to your entire chest, and that's kind of what this felt like. Kind of, but not exact.

The warm sensation comes on fast, from the bottom of your heart, into the heart, and then out again. It is actually over quite quickly, but is quite the experience while it is happening.

Dr. Jain begins to take pictures. I can actually see the inside of a portion of my artery on the monitor. It looks good to me, but this is the first time I've ever seen the inside of an artery, so I don't have much of a baseline.

I do see some little squiggly piece of something going crazy inside of me. I'm trying to figure out what it is when I hear the best words I've heart in a long time.

"There's no blockage. Your arteries are completely clear. The only thing we'll have to work on from here out is just the electrical system in your heart."

I don't think I quite realized how much I'd been stressing about this, until I knew everything was OK. Rachael was brought in, and she said that she had not seen my face look so free from worry for a couple of months now.

I was thrilled.

I spent the next few hours in my hospital bed. They have to ensure you will not start bleeding through the incision as you could bleed to death fairly quickly since it's in such a large artery.

I was discharged around 3 PM and got home that evening. I spent that night and the next day with my leg in a straight position as much as possible.

I went back to see Dr. Jain for a follow-up appointment August 26th. After looking at everything, he once again assured me that all was well. He said I could go back to normal activities and that he didn't need to see me for another 3 months, and that was just for a routing follow-up visit.

And so ends my Troubles of the Heart. I praise God for His watch-care, your thoughts and prayers, and for putting me in the hands of a very capable doctor!

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