I had to show up at the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at 0645 yesyerday morning. After getting fitted with my armband and an IV port in my left wrist. We were directed to a bed in a room with three other gentlemen. I understood that there were about twelve of us in total who were waitng for the procedeure. The wait could be up 4-5 hours depending on emergent cases coming in.
We had plenty of time to socialize and swap “war stories” (everyone in our room had already had some kind of procedure) Anxiety was apparent but well controlled.
At 1115 a light lunch was delivered and I had iust tucked into my egg salad sammy when a nurse appeared and ordered me to pee, get into my bed and take this pill which would relax me. Now, on rare occasions, I might take .5 mg of Lorazepam for anxiety. I was given 10 mg of Valium :eek:
It turned out to be a good thing because after being moved into the staging area, I had to wait another 90 minutes because of an emergency case having arrved by ambulance. Poor guy looked to be less than 30 years old and had suffered a serious heart attack.
I finally got my turn. I was able to distact myself by gawking at all the cool equipment. The previous patients images were on the monitor suspended over the table. Six or seven short movies of someone’s heart being flooded with some radioopaque dye just kept looping over and over. I could see the stainless steel wires which they use to hold your sternum closed after open heart surgery. I have a bunch of them and they are easy to see/feel under my skin.
The doc who did the job was unknown to me. He froze me and inserted the tube in my right femoral artery. This would be the port through which the catheter would be inserted. I couldn’t see that but imagined that a fair bit blood must have come out before all the plumbing was in place.
There’s a warning about the intense sensation of heat that people experience when the dye is injected. “You will think you peed yoursef” the nurse said. It didn’t feel like that but it sure is wierd. I tried not to ask the doctor too many questions but enough to satisfy my curiosity. (never about my case. I know where that will get you ) The dye is some kind of iodine compound which absorbs well in the x-ray part of the spectrum. The hot feeling is caused by the dye solution scavenging water from the vascular system (as I understood his explanation) He likened it to taking a shot of straight liquor and the resulting warm sensation in your esophagus/stomach.
The images on the screen were hard to make any sense of. (for me). I was able to see at least one artery which appeared to almost totally occluded.
The worst part was lying prone for 3-4 hours while the hole starts to heal and waiting for my Cardiologist to stop by and give me the results. The valium probably helped this.
Finally, the news. Native arteries: no blockages. Grafts: like new. No problems. Why the positive stress test? Doc has no idea. He’s confident that I have the atherosclerosis under control.
I’m going to start Couch to 5K again and keep in touch with my GP. Sorry I couldn’t get any pictures .
Thanks again for all the support. I’m taking flowers to the staff at the Cardiac Day Surgery unit on Monday!