OK, I’m just jokin’. You’ve never wanted a heart catheterization, have you?
We never have, either. Not Barry. Not me.
Yet, today, we found ourselves in the Marquette General Hospital Heart Institute for Barry’s first heart catheterization.
They weren’t looking for blockages in the arteries as they do with people who have heart disease.
Barry has an irregular heart beat (Atrial Fibrillation or A-Fib as we have fondly come to call it since his diagnosis in August). The doc threaded a wire and a catheter into the femoral artery from his groin to his heart. This is a very standard procedure.
Up, up, up they go. This is no big deal. It’s a common diagnostic tool.
While I was sipping Starbucks coffee and munching a lemon poppyseed muffin in the hospital coffee shop, his doctor was examining his heart looking at his atrial septal defect (ASD). Which means a hole in the heart. Something which exists in maybe 10-20% of adults who are mostly undiagnosed. (Sometimes the hole between the two atriums doesn’t close at birth. Which can sometimes cause a problem.)
Our doc found this to be “clinically insignificant” in Barry.
In other words, no repairs needed.
However, he still has A-Fib.
We’re off to our electrocardiologist tomorrow for a consult on the next step. (Barry is wondering why I am using the word “we”. I have decided that I have sat next to our patient enough hours in the hospital to be included in the editorial “we”.)
You wouldn’t believe how well our patient was today. He had the procedure without any sedative, except perhaps a Valium.
It was a breeze, except for those two minutes when they inserted the needles in his poor groin. Kinda like the needles you get when you’re at the dentist and need Novocaine.
The rest of the procedure didn’t hurt at all. Barry was interested to watch the catheter inside his heart on the computer screen.
When I returned bright-eyed and chipper from my Starbucks coffee, he was bright-eyed and chipper in the recovery room. Not like after his heart shock last month when he was still under sedation in recovery.
If you get your heart cath, you have to lie still, still, still from two to five hours. That means you don’t twitch and move your knees (even if your knees are shot and you’re going to have arthroscopic knee surgery next Wednesday.)
After they’ve determined that you’re going to be A-OK, you’re told to walk three times around the heart unit. This may be a challenge if your knees don’t work. But that’s OK. Keep walkin’.
Hey, you might even see someone else from your home town. It’s a small world, isn’t it?
If you started your procedure at 6:30 a.m. and had your heart catheterization done at 8:30 a.m., you might even be ready to leave by noon.
Hey, that wasn’t bad, was it?
Our thoughts and fears beforehand are often worse than the actual procedure itself.
Just don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds in the next 48 hours. No drinking beer today. Just go to bed and take a nice long nap and let your wife write a blog.
Tomorrow’s another day. We’ll see where we go next in the world of A-Fib…