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.

No comments: