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Stabbed in the wrist
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Stabbed in the wrist
A small bandage covers the spot on my wrist where, yesterday, my cardiologist inserted a catheter into my artery and threaded it up to my heart. The procedure was called an angiogram, and it was intended to let my doctors know if there are any blockages in my coronary arteries before I have my aortic valve replacement surgery.
It felt like a preview of my upcoming operation, because it was in the same hospital where I will have my surgery. I had to put on a hospital gown, an IV was inserted in my arm, and I was wheeled into an operating room with lots of high tech equipment, bustling medical staff and very bright lights in the ceiling. I was given a cocktail of drugs that put me in la la land, but not completely out. I felt some discomfort in my wrist and right arm, then it was over and they were ready to take me back to the recovery area. I was pretty groggy, but I remember my doctor telling me that they did find one partial blockage, of about 70-80 percent, in one of my coronary arteries.
I was happy they did the angiogram through my wrist, a method that is becoming much more prevalent, than through the femoral artery in my groin, because the risk of bleeding is reduced, and I didn't have to lay flat for hours after my procedure (although they kept me in recovery for the afternoon, to receive IV fluids to help flush out the contrast dye that was put into my system to aid in the examination of my coronary arteries.)
Two things stand out in my mind from yesterday's experience - one, although I was very nervous going into the procedure, it actually wasn't that scary once things got going. I was a passive participant; the medical staff did all the work, and I just went along for the ride. Of course, the sedatives I was given before and during the procedure helped.
Second, the staff, especially the nurses, was amazing. I had my procedure at the new Prebys Cardiovascular Center in La Jolla, which is part of the Scripps system and dedicated solely to cardiac care and treatment. Beautiful facility, top notch staff. They were caring, attentive and very sharp and knowledgeable. The nurses had read up on my history before I arrived, which impressed me. I felt well cared for and in excellent hands.
Of course, I had hoped that no blockages would be found, to simplify my surgery. But, I think of it like taking your car in for repair of a blown head gasket. The mechanic usually suggests replacing the timing belt and water pump as long as the engine is torn apart. So it will be good to take care of this problem now, before it gets worse, as long as I am already having open heart surgery.
I am supposed to take it easy for the next day or two, especially on my wrist, since I don't want to reopen the wound and make it bleed. No driving or dog walking for a couple of days. Otherwise, I feel fine.
Now for the next step, a meeting with my heart surgeon tomorrow. Perhaps I will get a date for my surgery...
AmbassadorC, June 1, 2017 9:49pm EST
Hi again - I thought this may also be helpful for you.
AmbassadorC, June 1, 2017 9:44pm EST
Good evening joetash1!
Thank you for sharing your experience. It's great that you have a positive outlook re your upcoming surgery, despite the result of the angiogram. .
Mind, body and spirit must become one while prepping for ones journey. it sounds as if your next steps will be to meet with a suregical team. While this is a repost, I would like to share with you, the questions that I had prepared in advance of meeting with my team. It is specific. To the mitral valve, however, you can tailor it to your specific condition. I hope this provides you with some comfort and reassurance as you prepare for your next steps.
Christine Rekash – Questions I Asked Before Heart Surgery
December 5, 2016 3:48am EST
You have been told by your cardiologist that "it's time" for surgery. You think to yourself, now what? Your upcoming events related to family, work and social obligations flash before you and you try to negotiate time and ask, how soon do I need to have this? The hardest part of "swallowing this pill" is that you wish it could be something other than the one thing that sustains your very being - the heart. To further complicate things, what if you have never had any other surgery, and this is your first experience undergoing major surgery? Nervous anxiety, the fear of the unknown and "what if's" occupy your every moment from the time you are informed by your cardiologist that "it’s time" and the time you meet with your surgeon to discuss the procedure that is recommended. Everything from how do I prepare for this, how do I share this with my family, my friends, my employer, to how will this affect all aspects of my daily living, and what is my surgeons experience, begin to swirl through your mind.
For me, after developing a leaking mitral valve the time to repair the valve came within a short period of two years upon careful monitoring by my cardiologist over the course of several years. I was a candidate for the robotic minimally invasive repair but had the option to also have a traditional open heart incision. It was important to me, to discuss both procedure's advantages and disadvantages as well as the number of surgeries the surgeon has performed.
Below is a checklist of questions to discuss with your cardiologist and team for when you are informed "the time has come."
♥Risks associated with the traditional open heart repair of the valve vs. the minimally invasive robotic repair?
♥In your professional opinion Dr. based upon a degree of medical certainty what advantages are there that outweigh the risks of this type of surgery, in your overall professional expertise?
♥Advantages of the traditional open heart repair vs the minimally invasive robotic repair
♥Dr. in your professional opinion, why do you prefer the traditional repair approach
♥Disadvantages of the traditional open heart repair vs the minimally invasive robotic repair
♥Dr. in your professional opinion why do you feel these are disadvantages?
♥Approximately how long, based upon your professional expertise, have you observed the repair to last? Is it possible that the repair will necessitate a replacement down the line?
♥Is there a more optimal time to have the surgery which will aid in a faster recovery: i.e. Summer vs. Winter (dry and sunny conditions vs snow, ice)
♥Based on my current state of the heart, what is your recommendation for how quickly it should be repaired?
♥How will you repair my valve? (With the ring or just a nip and tuck)
♥Will my body organs be cooled down while on the pump run to preserve them?
♥Percentage of people who you have operated on and what is their outcome?
♥What is the typical recovery time for someone in my age, current state of the heart?
♥How soon will I notice an improvement? I.e. will I still feel the palpitations? sluggishness? Lightheadness that I feel now?
♥Will I need to be on medications after the surgery, if so, what and how long? Lifelong vs temporary?
♥Risks of infection?
♥If so, what?
♥What signs should I be aware of to be considered an ER (other than the common sense ones) i.e. will be it apparent if my valve springs a leak?
Diet/ Daily Functions:
♥Soonest I can get out of the hospital?
♥Special diet during recovery?
♥Any Lifelong alternations: Will l I be able to return to eating chocolate? wine? How will caffeine affect my new valve?
♥Will I need a catheter during recovery?
♥Will daily functions such as sneezing, coughing, bowel movements affect have an impact on the recovery?
♥I Have a hard time staying put, what is the recommended activity level for optimal recovery? i.e. Will I be sleeping allot, should I expect to be walking around the house being able to fold laundry and vacuum? To that extent, should I make any advanced preparations that would assist in the transition of recovery
♥How soon can I return to work:
♥How can I handle job stress?
♥Modified work schedule to transition be recommend?
♥What will be my prescribed method of monitoring the condition of the valve replacement?
Support during Recovery
♥Any nurses or support groups to recommend for further questions?
♥Any books to read in advance of the surgery?
User22008, June 1, 2017 12:20am EST
God Blessing thank you for sharing 🙏🙏
AHAASAKatie, May 31, 2017 1:19pm EST
Thank you so much for sharing your patient path with us! We are so glad to have you here. What do you think the hardest part of this has been so far. Best Katie