So you’ve always wanted a heart catheterization?

My guy. After his heart catheterization. (He gave 100% plus permission to use this photo.)

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.

Marquette General Hospital Skywalk

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.

Help yourself to a wheelchair. If you need one.

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.

Develop a good relationship with your doc.

In other words, no repairs needed.

However, he still has A-Fib.

Go down the escalators looking for the coffee shop if you're the support person. Don't get lost.

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”.)

Sculpture in lobby: Body, Mind, Spirit. Remember them all.

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.

Neat artwork of Lake Superior in lobby

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. 

Mmmm, they even have Starbucks coffee. Nice architecture? You did remember your camera, didn't you?

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.)

If you bring your camera, do NOT take pics of patients without their approval. Take pics of yourself in elevators.

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?

But if your heart cath patient happens to be a fellow journalist and photographer, you may get away with taking a picture of him/her. You may. Always ask permission as you tenderly care for him (or her).

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…

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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57 Responses to So you’ve always wanted a heart catheterization?

  1. Nicole Smith says:


    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, Nicole. It WAS a very interesting day… Yep, it sure was!

    • i am on my way to the hospital after googling Why can’t my husband have coffee before his heart catheterization/ Must have been the coffee that set this off! I ran across this blog and wish i had seen it sooner!! This helped me sooo much. I cannot even begin to tell you! My hubby also has an irregular heart beat and went to the heart dr. to get ok for surgery and they said no, heart cath first so here we go.He drank coffee–couldn’t hold him back-hope he doesn’t throw up all over the table. Black with 2 artificial sweeteners–we shall see. I think others would love to know if that is ok. Will let you know.God Bless you Kathy, from Kathy with a “K”.

      • Kathy says:

        Kathy with a “K”, I am so happy you found this post and that it helped you. Can’t wait to tell Barry when he gets home from work. Hopefully, your husband won’t need to have surgery. I learned that there are so many different kinds of heart caths & reasons for the irregular heartbeat. Good luck about his coffee drinking! I hope you come back and tell how it went. It’s hard to keep these fellas from drinking/eating before procedures… Blessings to you and your husband!

  2. holessence says:

    Kathy – this was fantastic documentation with supporting photographs. I’ve got to say, Barry is BEYONG-A-GREAT-SPORT!!!!!!!

  3. holessence says:

    That was meant to be BEYOND-A-GREAT SPORT!

    • Kathy says:

      He IS being a wonderful sport, Laurie. He has such a good attitude. I am glad you enjoyed our pictorial documentation…and I can’t wait to tell him what you said. Thank you.

  4. Karma says:

    Best wishes along Barry’s and your journey. I agree with Laurie. What a fine sport!

  5. Susan Derozier says:

    So glad what they found was “clinically insignificant” Kathy. Tell Barry when I had my first one done you had to lie like that for eight hours. I will be really interested to hear what the next steps are. Loved how you took us all inside and how gracious Barry was to allow us “in.” Prayers continue for all good results and I bet he was glad you folks did all that wood loading and stacking before going in!

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Susan. It was good to have that diagnosis after the heart cath. You had to lie like that for eight hours!! You are a trooper and a deserve a cath award for that. 🙂

  6. Marianne says:

    Great news and great story! Nice looking hospital. Thanks for the tour, Kathy.

    • Kathy says:

      The hospital really is nice, Marianne. They have really kept it state-of-the-art. We are really impressed with it, that’s for sure. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

  7. Lucienne(Alluvja) says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m glad all went well and rather smooth.
    The hospital looks nice and spacious.
    All the best.

    • Kathy says:

      Lucienne, it is a very modern hospital. We’re glad that it exists so close to home–only 90 miles away. It was a very nice smooth procedure, but we’re tiiiiiirrrrred (that is “tired”) after three days of medical tests/procedures. Now we just have to wait til next Wednesday and the knee arthroscopic surgery. Hugs to you, too…

  8. Dawn says:

    Don’t remember the Marquette hospital looking that nice. But then that would have been almost 30 years ago. I have to think Barry was still under the influence of the Valium when he gave you “100% approval” to share his picture! LOL Glad it went well. That whole mess with my heart thing would freak me out.

    • Kathy says:

      Marquette Hospital really has improved over the yeras, Dawn. I think you would be very impressed. (Even Portage View has a new hospital since 30 years ago.) Honest to goodness, Barry 100% approved–before, during and after his Valium–which he said he didn’t even feel. (I, on the other hand, became reeeeeaaaalllllyyyy relaxed when he swallowed his Valium. Go figure.) He was so pleased with this blog that he read it eight times last night and edited it mightily so that I would have all the medical terms right.

  9. Susan D says:

    I really hate seeing Mr. Barry lying in a hospital bed, even though it was all necessary. It does something to one’s heart to see folks prone and “being good” for the procedure. Twists at my emotions. I am glad that THAT is one down …and that you are home. I think you’re both wonderful and brave, and making the most of the non-fun stuff of life, and it’s also awesome to share it all with us. Thank you, and lots of love to you both.

    • Kathy says:

      Awww, Susan, you are so soft-hearted. We’re glad this one was done, but–in a strange way–Barry was fascinated with the procedure and wanted to learn all about it. He feels much more confident after having read so much about the heart. You know the journalist in both of us loves to share this kind of thing. And Barry really enjoyed this blog–that feels really good. Thank you so much.

  10. OM says:

    Oh my. Humor helps in such situations, and you have an abundance of loving humor. I’m so glad it ended with some good news. Seeing golden light around and throughout you both. Wishes for many more years of love and laughter together.

    • Kathy says:

      It’s been a positive couple of days on the heart-front, OM. Thank you for caring. Feeling that golden light… even though it’s been a long three days. Thanks again.

  11. john says:

    As Spock would say, “Live long and prosper” Barry

  12. Reggie says:

    Oh, dearest Kathy and Barry – I am so relieved that the finding was “clinically insignificant”. Thank you, Kathy, for taking us through the experience with you – it was really interesting to learn about it. You are right – not knowing what to expect of a procedure etc. does make one more worried and fearful. Sooo relieved that your heart’s love is going to be okay.

    And Barry is AWESOME for allowing you to take along your camera and share this with us. Even though we are very far away, and even though we have not met in person (well, NOT YET!), we do care about you and wish you both the Best of Life.

    Lots and lots of love and light to you both.

    • Kathy says:

      One of the reasons Barry liked the idea of this blog was so that other people might feel more comfortable with this procedure, Reggie. If we can even help one person who might be feeling fearful or nervous…this would be worth it. Thank you SO much for your love and caring, Reggie.

  13. kiwidutch says:

    Cool photos, great result: “clinically insignificant” are brilliant words to hear under the circumstances.
    Sharing the procedure helps anyone due to have it a little less nervous and Barry’s cool calm dealing with it is therefore also an excellent public service. Well done Barry!
    You make sure he rests up and you spoil him for a while so that he can recover fully, yes? (I’m sure you already are).

    • Kathy says:

      Well, yes, kiwidutch, I think I AM spoiling him, just a little. Of course, he spoiled me just a little after my gall bladder surgery last December. So glad that he decided to let me share about his procedure. Hoping it helps others…thank you so much.

  14. Claire says:

    So glad to hear that all was a breeze and the anxieties beforehand were unfounded. A great report with interesting detail e.g. Barry’s hands at the end of the story. Oh by the way it is most definitely a WE in situations like these not an I. I send big hugs from theUK 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you, Claire. Wow, what a week it was! We were at the hospital/doctor’s offices for three days. Glad to be home enjoying a beautiful autumn weekend. Hope you are, too, in the UK. (Glad you liked the hands…)

  15. P.j. grath says:

    Great sport Barry. Great reporter Kathy. Glad nothing significant turned up. Hope it goes as well with the knees. We must be braver and braver as time goes on, eh?

    • Kathy says:

      Pamela, for some reason when I read your comment–too fast, as often happens–it appeared like you were calling me a “sports reporter”. Which, if memory serves right, I tried to be maybe last winter or the winter before in this blog? As for being braver and braver as time goes by: Yes. I can only hope to be as brave as Barry. I was shakin’ like a leaf before AND after my gall bladder surgery.

  16. Carla says:

    A Fibs can receive hugs, yes? wishing you and Barry all the best on this A-Fib journey.

  17. Tammy says:

    Blessings to Barry!

  18. Carol says:

    “Clinically insignificant” – such nice words to hear, I’m sure. I am happy nothing significant was found!

  19. sonali says:

    Gosh! that was kind of a shock! I get terrified hearing any heart related problems. Though you both seem to be reacting strongly and dealing with it quite sportively, touchwood. Infact its a great thing the way you put it up here with photographs. It gives courage. I’m glad that there’s nothing much to worry about then. May god bless you both with good health, abundantly!

    • Kathy says:

      It is good if this will give courage to even one other person, Sonali. That is our hope. We’ve both learned that our mental fear is often the worse. The actual procedures can be OK. Thank you so much.

  20. I’m glad the procedure went well, and best wishes for the next step.

  21. Robin says:

    So glad to hear the procedure went well. Your husband is a great sport, putting up with all that picture taking. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Not only did he “put up” with it Robin, I swear he encouraged it! **I’m afraid we’re two peas in a pod about wanting to share this kind of stuff publically.**

  22. Colleen says:

    Kathy, I’m so glad all went well! Blessings and hugs to both of you.

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks, Colleen. We’re still foggy-headed after “our” busy week, and now trying to get ready for “our” upcoming week of knee surgery. Trying to relax…although both of us have had to go into work at odd hours to help make up for our time off.

  23. Barb says:

    Hurrah – I’m glad THAT”S over! I had a catheter threaded when they tried to figure out why I had the heart attack. Seeing your beating heart on a screen near your head is quite the experience. I could even see where my artery had torn. Luckily, my cardiologist is very cute, so the experience was less traumatic than it could have been. Glad nothing further must be done to Barry’s heart. Now – on to the knees!

    • Kathy says:

      I am laughing, Barb. Cute cardiologist! (Funny, Barry never said a word about HIS cardiologist being cute…) You had a torn artery when you had a heart attack? Yikes…I would never make a nurse. Never. I get squirmy just thinking about these things. But Barry’s just the opposite. He’s fascinated with medical terminology and the more he knows the less apprehensive he is. The doc asked if I wanted to see the incision site and I said “NO” and Barry said “Yes, she does, because she has to describe it to me.” Which I did. 🙂

  24. bearyweather says:

    It is good to hear all the medical issues are working out well without complications. Taking pictures at the hospital is a unique way to spend all the wait time … your husband is a good sport.

  25. wolfsrosebud says:

    Love the pic of the tree next to the little building. Yes, there is something peaceful about a cemetery in an odd way.

    • Kathy says:

      Cemeteries are lovely old places. I love when there are trees, rather than just fields. Although tree roots can disturb graves in challenging ways…

  26. Pingback: A Week in the Life, Day 1 « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

  27. Brenda Hardie says:

    Aww Kathy you are such a loving wife to your Barry. He was such a trooper allowing us to be part of his adventure in the hospital. And you did a fine fine job showing and telling us, thank you! I am so so relieved and grateful the test showed nothing significantly wrong! Hopefully the next steps will be easily managed for you both. My prayers will remain with you as you travel this road together. Gentle hugs from MN 🙂

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