Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back to work

Monday was my first night back to work after the stent placement. I followed most of the doctor's orders. Didn't drive for 24 hours, no heavy lifting for the first week. I also neglected to see the no pulling/pushing for 2 weeks. And they specified stuff like raking, vacuuming etc. Whooooooooooooops. I had to run my old machine Monday night, which consists of pulling apart bales of material and putting it on the conveyor belt. Tuesday morning rolled around, and 5200 pounds of material later, needless to say I was a bit sore. (ok that might be an understatement, my right shoulder was singing an aria) I figure it was not related to the ticker, since I didn't keel over yet. I'll see how it feels tomorrow. For today, I plan on curling up under a ton of quilts, and sleeping until such time as my body decrees it is time to get up. All phones are turned off. If I don't talk to you later tonight, I hope everyone has a safe New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Cardiac catheterization

I went in at 6:30am on Monday, Dec. 22nd. Appointment wasn't until 7:30 but I was coming directly from work. I had planned to be lazy Sunday night, but it just isn't in my nature, so of course I showed up dead to the world. 

They get you up to your room, do basic prep, vitals, slap leads all over, and start an IV line. Then you wait until the doc is ready. And wait, and wait, and wait...... (Or in my case sleep, and sleep, and sleep, or at least try to.) My procedure was scheduled for 9:30 am, but due to several things, out of everyone's control, I didn't get into the cath lab until 12:15. 

Once in the lab they make you move onto the cold slab of a table. Hard as a rock, and cold as a freezer. Then they paint you with an iodine wash, turning you into a oompah-loompah. Then they cover you with what they claim are heated blankets. (They could have used a dozen more) This is also when they start the drugs, in my case mild pain killers, and heparin. Time to turn that blood into water. You feel a tiny poke when they freeze the artery where the cath is going in. I was quite surprised how tiny the opening they make is. Less than 1/4 inch. And contrary to what some people say, yes you can feel the cath. Maybe it was the decreased dosage of meds, maybe I am just hypersensitive to what goes on inside my body, who knows. Once the cath is placed the fun starts. They shoot contrast dye into the heart, and it feels like a volcanic eruption from every single orifice of your body. Then the slab moves several times, then it stops and they talk about ivus, and start spouting out locations and numbers. Then the contrast dye comes again, and again the slab starts moving. I lost count after the fourth set of dye, but let me tell you, for someone who gets cold in under 75 degree temps, I would kill to bottle some of that stuff! Occasionally a nurse stops by and asks how you're doing. I was tempted to say a whole lot better if it didn't feel like i was lying in the morgue. You feel a tiggley wiggley when they set the stents. Really no other way to explain that part, sorry. I had two blockages, both at 70%, one of them in what they lovingly refer to as "the WidowMaker". Once they are happy with their work it's time to get the cath out, and try to close the hole in the artery. (Preferably before you bleed to death.) And folks, this is the one point in the procedure that will bring your azz off that table. Especially when they don't give you any warning ahead of time. The clip they used to close it is called a "StarClose" I am including a photo of it, just to see how strong your stomach is.

I can take a lot of pain, but that sumbiotch woke me up. Had they warned me, I could have at least prepared myself a bit. After they are done torturing the crap out of you setting the clip, it's time to go back to the holding cell your room. You lay in there for a few hours, being reminded regularly not to bend your leg. Then it's upstairs to another room, where you lay still for four more hours. (After several hours of being unable to move your leg, you start getting fantastic muscle spasms. Do you realize how hard it is to work one of those babies out when you aren't allowed to actually move the limb? Yeah, it sucks.) Finally seven hours after the procedure is finished they let you get up and try to walk. Just point me to the bathroom, I have to pee like a dayem racehorse! Once everything is to their satisfaction, a discharge nurse comes in and tells you all the do's and don'ts. Don't drive for at least 24 hours, don't lift anything above 10 pounds for 5-6 days, do take the meds they prescribe, and she hands you a stack of booklets on a proper cardiac diet. I didn't bother reminding her that I already have excellent cholesterol levels. I love veges and fruits, and consider salads to be one of the main food groups. 

You are stuck on Plavix for a year, to prevent anything from sticking to the stents while they heal into the artery wall. You also become one of the -aspirin a day for life- members.

I am 47 years old and have heart disease. Eat right, exercise regularly, and it means nothing if bad genetics is stacked against you.
By the way bp was 110/60 before and after, and cholesterol is 150.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The results

I am not sure why, but the sadistic Clock Maker feels I need to have a heart cath. It is scheduled for the 22nd of December. Why this date? Simple, I already have the week off from work. This way I don't lose any pay, or have to use any extra vacation. If he doesn't need to do anything further, I should be out roughly 3 hours after it is done. If he needs to put in any stents, I am looking at 6-7 hours afterwards. He said no driving for 24 hours after, and no heavy lifting for 5 days. (I move 5500# of material daily at work by hand. What constitutes "heavy"?) If it's anything major, just start digging that hole. (because the ground is froze, and it will take some effort)

I was also told, that on the off chance I need to spend the night (yeah so much for an "out patient" procedure), I should pack an over night bag, including all medications. So I made myself a list of things I need:
  • Medications
  • Netbook and charger
  • phone and charger
  • Twelve pack of Coke (they said I could have a liquid breakfast :P )

I feel like I am missing something on the list, but I am sure it will come to me before the 22nd. Hope everyone is staying warm out there.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Idiots and work

Last night was one of "those" kind of nights. It went relatively fast once you got past the idiot. Supervisor #2 hires some real winners. I think he chooses the worst of the worst, and says "congrats" you're hired! Case in point...

A worker came up to me last night and said he needed to fill out a "near miss" form. I asked him why. He said he almost got his fingers cut. The conversation goes something like this:

Idiot: I need to fill out a near miss form
Me: Ok can you tell me why?
Idiot: I almost cut my fingers
Me: And how did that happen?
Idiot: The hopper was clogged, and none of the regular fixes worked. So I took the air pipe off the bottom of the hopper, and grabbed the clog with my fingers.
Me: Ok, so how did you almost cut your fingers?
Idiot: Well there were these little blades on the inside half of the hopper, and they were spinning.
Me: Did you remember to LOTO (lock out tag out) the machine first?
Idiot: No. No one told me I had to do that. Maintenance said only if I am reaching inside the hopper. So I need to write up a near miss report, and tell them they should have a warning that there are moving parts inside there. So no one gets hurt.
Me: You do realize as soon as you remove the air pipe, you are considered to be reaching inside the hopper, correct? And as such you could be cited for a safety violation, since you neglected to LOTO the machine first.
Idiot: (extremely indignant) No one told me I had to LOTO the machine when I do this, I can't be written up for something no one told me.
Me: Actually you can. We do not follow after each and every employee to make sure you don't do something stupid. And we can only engineer out so many hazards. Common sense must come into play on occasion.
Idiot: Well that's not right. No one told me.
Me: Here is an example. Day shift Idiot takes space heater out of bathroom, and places it next to a bale of drc (paper), while she is working. Anyone above the age of 7 should realize you don't place a heat source near paper. We should not have to explain that to an adult.
Idiot: Well if no one told her, then she can't be blamed for doing it.
Me: Like I said before, we can only engineer out so much stupid.

I had to walk away after that. He was adamant that if someone isn't specifically told something is hazardous, that absolves them of any wrong doing. I wonder if he ever thought of bungee jumping off a very tall building, without a cord....

The Clock Maker

I thought the stress test went well. That's what happens when you listen to the moron technician running the dayem test. He said "I did much better than he thought I would." I took that as good news, and went home more relaxed than I had been since this started.

Well apparently he must have had some realllllly low standards. The doc called me on Nov 17th @ at 10am (even though she knows I work nights) to tell me I had an "abnormal" stress test, and now need to see the Clock Maker. I was barely able to process what she was saying, since I was half asleep yet. And just what constitutes "abnormal" anyhow? I mean seriously, can you use a word like that when referencing this kitty? I have been called a lot of things, but I am pretty sure "abnormal" wasn't one of them.

Anyhow, tomorrow is the big day. Maybe the Clock Maker will be able to explain in more detail just what "abnormal" truly means in regards to my ticker. And what means of torture he has in mind to rewind it.