This is Part 3 of a (hopefully) short series with my interactions with the medical profession and my blood pressure (BP). If you haven’t read it yet, Part 1 describes my belief that my BP will be okay When the stress goes away. Following that, Part 2 covered my regular semi-annual meeting with the doctor where I described an ache I’ve been having in the middle of my chest in But Doc, I feel fine Except…. At my subsequent meeting with the cardiologist, I was informed that I needed to have a cardiac catheterization. That happened on Friday, 7 January, just 8 days after I first told the doctor about the ache.
I had the cardiac catheterization at Winchester Medical Center, part of the Valley Health System here in the Shenandoah Valley. Everyone I met at the cardiac center was absolutely wonderful; charming, personable individuals working hard to make the new patient comfortable and knowledgeable about what was going on around me. The only surprise I had was on the trip home when I checked my plastic wrist identification bracelet. It said “Sex: F”. I’ve never been “F” and I’m pretty sure the nurse who had to shave me knew that I wasn’t “F”.
Note: I’m positive that the person who invented the ‘modern’ hospital gown over a hundred years ago never had to wear one. You still have no idea if your backside is covered.
I had been told that if the results of the catheterization showed no obstructions or blockages, I would be going home in the afternoon but I would not be allowed to drive myself. So, my oldest son, Bo, came back from PA Thursday night and chauffeured me to the hospital Friday morning. However, if problems were found, they would use a balloon to clear it and then insert a stent to keep it clear. I’ve never seen a stent, but I’ve been told that it has the appearance of the spring from a click type ball point pen. If they had to do anything to resolve a blockage, I would have to stay in the hospital overnight.
When I was rolled into Cath Lab 4, I was greeted by a handful of nurses. When the nurse asking the questions learned that I’m a smoker, she said “Now we know why you’re in here.” After I pointed out that I wasn’t even on BP meds until becoming a single Dad, the laughter told me that there were multiple Moms in the room. And at least one of them was a single Mom. I’m among Friends.
I was in a position where I could see the TV monitor. But with the twilight drug they gave me, I had a lot of difficulty focusing on the screen. The last thing I really remember is one nurse sticking me in the left arm with the IV (ouch) and another nurse scrubbing my right groin area with an antiseptic soap (tickled, a lot). I don’t remember the doctor coming into the room. I don’t remember a second doctor coming in to check images on the screen. I vaguely remember the first doctor explaining what was on the screen and they weren’t going to be able to do anything during the procedure.
In the recovery room, I was visited by another doctor (not one of the two in the cath lab). This doctor is a cardiac surgeon. He explained to me what was in the images that I barely remembered seeing and why they were unable to resolve the problems during the catheterization. Then he got to the heart of why he was in my room. I need bypass surgery. Quadruple Bypass surgery.
Maybe it was because of the drugs, but that didn’t scare me when he said that. And, truthfully, I’m still not scared. He was ready to do it next week but I asked him if we could delay to the following week as I have things that need to be arranged. Like someone to watch the twins while I’m in the hospital.
So, on 17 January, I will go to his office for my pre-op checkup. Then, on Tuesday the 18th, they will do the bypass surgery. He expects that I’ll be be released from the hospital the following Sunday.
There is the proverbial silver lining to this, though. He’ll be able to fix my broken rib while he’s in there. Cool. I won’t have to pay for a second surgery.
I’ll get another post written before the surgery. And, I’ll try to write while I’m in the hospital – they have wifi. I’ll update this post with a link to the next once it’s available.