Thursday, October 14, 2010

Heart Cath

I was admitted on Monday to the hospital. That was also the first scheduled day of my evaluation. Evaluation had to be canceled since I was sick and really needed a round of antibiotics. However they are able to perform many if not all of the tests for evaluation while I am in the hospital. That really gives me a sense of comfort. I like the idea of being in a familiar setting with my nurses and doctors while I have some of these procedures performed. Yesterday was the first invasive procedure I have had, a heart cath, it was not exactly a walk in the park.

The day went all wrong straight from the beginning. I had been placed NPO at midnight which basically means I can't have anything to eat or drink. I was told the procedure would take place around 7 am. However 7 came and 7 went, no sign of anyone. So around 10 am my nurse tells me that the test is going to take place around noon. Guess what?? Noon came and noon went, again no one comes for me. By this point I was beginning to become weak. The antibiotics take such a toll on my body and it doesn't take much for me to feel really lousy. I usually snack on fresh fruit through out the day and drink tons of water. I never realized how much my sick body depends on those things until I could no longer have them. Several other things occurred as well that I am not going to discuss here, but to say I was upset is an understatement. Finally at 3:00 pm they showed to pick me up.

They took me down to the cardio/vascular holding area and hooked me up to several monitors. I basically just sat there while they entered all of my information into the computer. Around 5:00 the doctor who would be performing the procedure came to see me. He was a short man with thick lens glasses that framed his eyes. He was a bit quirky and sounded like the character Napoleon Dynamite when he spoke. I asked him exactly what the procedure entailed. He began explaining to me that I was not having the normal heart cath that most patients have to check for blockage, rather a right heart cath to measure the pressure in my lungs. He wanted to go in my neck instead of my groin area however my port is placed in the exact location he was hoping to use. So he looked at the other side of my neck, hoping to use it and continued explaining to me what would take place. He said he would snake the catheter into a large vein next to my artery and wind it around my lungs and back up to my heart. Then he would go through a series of methods that would help determine exactly how much pressure I was holding inside my heart. I was completely calm and peaceful during the beginning of his explanation, because I was previously informed  it would be going to my heart. I was actually even a bit relieved to discover he was NOT going into my main artery like I had been told upstairs. So all of this sounded like good news to me. However, when he mentioned snaking it through the blood vessels in my lungs, I began to panic. That was information I had not been given, therefore not allowed to process ahead of time. The tears came instantly. I knew my lungs are very fragile because of the steady decline I have experienced with my health over this past year. The first thing that came to mind was collapsing a lung. So I asked and did not get the answer I was hoping for. He said yes there were risks of not only collapsing the lung but also puncturing it. My mind began to swirl and I instantly became dizzy. I am not sure if it was because of the information I was being given, the fact I had not eaten in almost 24 hours or a combination of both. Regardless, I was at a breaking point. I thought I was going to scream. He tried to talk to me calmly and quickly realized I could not calm down. He said I would have no more than 15 minutes to decide if I wanted to continue or reschedule. Several verses came to mind while all of this was happening, first "Cast all your anxieties on Him", and "God did not give me a spirit of fear, but of peace and a sound mind". I just kept repeating these over in my head as I concentrated on breathing and thinking of the benefit of this test. It would get me one step closer to a life free of  tubes. Tubes. Tubes for treatments, tubes for medications, tubes for oxygen. They are everywhere and I despise them. God did not create me to be tied down. The more I thought about how much I wanted to throw away every tube in my house, never drag an iv pole down the hall, or an O2 tank to the grocery store again, the more determined I became to do whatever it takes to get the life I dream of having.

So, I wiped my eyes with a tissue, swept my hair out of my face, sat up a bit taller than before, and said, "Let's get this done." With that the doctor handed my chart to the nurse and the next thing I know I am being wheeled into the operating room. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. I began imagining what it is going to feel like one day to be rolled into an even bigger operating room, knowing my disease is going to be cut from my body. Knowing that somewhere a stranger is going to give me a gift so precious that I can not even fathom. It was so overwhelming.

The room was a standard procedure room. Not too big, not too small. I crawled over onto the long steel table and the doctor and his team entered a small room next to the room we were in. I am not sure if they were getting dressed or just discussing how crazy they thought I was, ha, but either way I know they were out of the room for no more than a minute or two. I am such an observer and I immediately began looking around the room, trying to see if I could guess what instruments would be used and what their purpose might be. My fear was beginning to fade. And even though the room was silent, it was loud, as if there were an entire congregation of people in there with me, all wearing watches that were simultaneously beeping. =) I knew as I felt myself melt into the cold metal of the table while I took deep breaths of oxygen through the tube against my nose that simply, God was with me. He was there, in that moment, in that room.

The whole procedure lasted about 30 minutes, 15 minutes of that being prep time. We did decide to enter through the groin area. The doctor said there was about a 0% chance of collapsing a lung that way. I didn't feel anything other than maybe some small flutters around the spot he entered. I got three numbing shots and literally could not feel half way down my thigh, so he did a really great job to make sure I was comfortable. I did ask a lot of questions. I wanted to know what tools were used for what. Not out of anxiety but rather curiosity. I do find it all fascinating. The human body never fails to impress me. When you begin to learn about it, you realize there is absolutely no way we evolved, but were rather created. It is just so amazing the way it all works together. You realize God truly does have a plan for it all.

Love you guys!!!

P.S. My results came back and I have MILD pressure in my heart, even more mild than what they originally thought. They said it was no more than what would be expected with someone with Cystic Fibrosis! So that is great news!!! =)

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry it was such a difficult day for you, but I'm SO happy that the procedure went well (once it actually took place and after your anxiety passed). In a recent post, you mentioned your apprehension about the heart cath. At the time I was only vaguely aware of what it was, so I did some research and I've been obsessing about it ever since then. It gives ME peace knowing that it wasn't the worst thing ever for YOU. (Is that weird?)

    I love getting to know other CFers and hearing their stories, and the most interesting part to me is the way we each deal with the challenges that CF presents; some are angry about it, some are just tired of it all, some are extremely positive. From what I've read, I get the impression that you and I are a bit similar in the way we deal with things - yeah, it gets tough, but with a whole lotta faith and love we'll make it, baby!

    As things get more difficult for me, I can only to hope that I handle myself with as much grace as you do. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you.