December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Venting, Venting, Venting! I Survived the Heart Cath

Hola darlings!

I survived the heart catheterization.  Geez - thought I truly was going to expire from an exploding heart and hyperventilation while laying on the operating table staring up at the ceiling - with no sedation in me whatsoever - while the nurses were doing their 'prep' in the "procedure room."  I think my heart must have been going about 200 miles per hour.  One of the nurses started rubbing my shoulder, and she or a different nurse (there seemed to be four of them but as I did not want to be staring up at the ugly ceiling and the equipment dangling down over me from up there, I mostly kept my eyes shut and so I can't tell you exactly how many there were) wiped the sweat off my brow and she or another nurse kept dabbing at the tears leaking out of my eyes with tissues.   It was probably 40 degrees in that room (I understand why they keep it cold, because tension causes one to sweat profusely) and I was sweating bullets.  Leaking tears too.  I cry when I'm scared, I cry when I'm happy.  I'm just a regular cry baby, I guess.  I broke down when I had to move from the bed to the operating table, and cried my eyes out for about 30 seconds, and then got up on the table.  Fortunately, it was heated and that was a distraction.

I received no sedation until the doctor who was to do the cath finally appeared in the room about 15 minutes after my arrival.  Then it went into my IV - they told me they were doing it.  I can't say that I was knocked out, but it certainly did help "relax" me and it did work quickly.  I felt like how you feel when you're just going into a nice deep satisfying sleep, and the procedue did not hurt - and I really didn't even feel when the made the holes to put the tubes up into my artery, just as they'd promised.  I was absolutely terrified of feeling any pain or, well, ANYTHING at all.  The thought of things being snaked up inside my body through arteries into my heart just freaked me out, and still does!  If I NEVAH have to undergo another such procedure, it will be too soon, let me tell you!  I do not understand why I was not given a mild sedative before I was ever wheeled into that OR, or why it took anyone so long to realize that I was shaking so hard I was about to shake the whole damn hospital building down in a giant quake as I shook my poor terrified body nearly off that operating table! 

The entire damn procedure was unnecessary, as it turned out.  I had NO BLOCKAGES at all in my heart arteries, and NO WEAKNESSES in my heart arteries requiring the insertion of stents.  Heart was also healthy enough to not require immediate insertion of a pacemaker. The only thing they ended up doing was taking some photographs (I declined to look at them, thank you very much) and measured various pressures inside my pulmonary arteries.  I already knew I have PAH; the only thing this procedure did, therefore, was give the doctors more information about the level of pressure inside my arteries and eliminated two possible causes of the PAH (blockages, partially collapsed arteries). 

So, back to square one.  I still have PAH, which will kill me slowly or quickly, I don't know which and neither do the doctors. I have a leaking mitral valve, which may or may not need surgery (ain't happening, I can tell you that right now, darlings). And I have a-fib which one doctor says he can fix by doing "x" and the second doctor says cannot be fixed by doing "x", he must do "y" and then I must do "z" and who the heck knows what else for whatever remains of my life, all the while, of course, as I continue to die from the leaking mitral valve and the PAH. 

Darlings, is it any wonder I haven't been in much of a mood to blog lately?  I'd been living in terror for two weeks since the heart cath was first scheduled, and yesterday was the epitomy of the House of Horrors.  Oh I received excellent treatment, don't get me wrong.  And it wasn't as if any of the nurses or even the male doctors were callous - but to them this is all old hat, and I know my terror and horror at even the thought of the procedure I was there to undergo just puzzled them more than anything else.  Oh geez, even now, just sitting here thinking about it, I'm all of a sudden broke out crying.  One moment...

So, maybe no one will ever read this, or maybe lots of people will somehow find their way here some day and read this, and go YEAH, that happened to me, too, and NOBODY UNDERSTOOD or, some poor unfortunate soul who is waiting for the time to tick down until they have their own heart cath will read this and kill herself rather than undergo it.  What a horrible thought.  What a horrible thing for me to even write down.  I'm leaving it, anyway.

These doctors, they are all about treating the mechanics of my body, which right now are become the enemy of ME - the essence of ME - the person.  I am not my body.  I am - my mind, soul, consciousness, whatever it is that creates the life spark that is unique and is Jan Newton.  They do nothing about how this affects the ME -- the way they act, they don't even seem to realize that this is profoundly affecting ME - or that there is, actually, a ME.  The mechanics are all they're interested in.  As if I'd be able to live forever if only they can just get it "right."  As if! 

Thank Goddess my youngest sister was there with me yesterday.  I don't think I could have stood it if I'd had to arrive at the hospital yesterday by bus, check myself in before 7:00 a.m. and then call a cab to take me home in the afternoon after I'd sufficiently recovered.  She was so calm and collected, she helped me keep it together.  But let me tell you - it HURTS when they take a ton of blood out of your arm even though the blood tech was the sweetest lady.  It HURTS when they take your blood pressure every five minutes.  Why is it necessary to crush the hell out of my fat upper arm?  I know my arm is fat.  It's a Newton trait. It was fat when I weighed 117 pounds.   If you don't want to deal with the fat, then COME UP WITH A BETTER WAY TO TAKE BLOOD PRESSURE. It HURTS to have the IV thing put in plus it was put into my left hand - and I'm left-handed.  I had to go to the bathroom 3 times.  Have you any idea how how it is to well, do what you need to do and then wash your HAND with only one HAND? 

All of which is screamingly hilarious, actually. LOL!  I was laughing my butt off when I wasn't otherwise feeling terror!  My right hand got a real work-out yesterday, let me tell you. 

P.S.  It hurt every single time I tried to move my left hand, and hurt whenever I tried to use said hand to like help push myself around the bed, or leverage myself this way or that way, or do anything even half-way normal that you take for granted in using one's hands.  You would think they'd come up with a better way of putting IV fluids into a person.  Like how about shoving the IV into my big fat upper arm, where it wouldn't hurt half so much as on the skin and bone where you found the veins in my hand? 

I couldn't eat anything after midnight Thursday night so I was already hungry before I got to the hospital yesterday morning.  My stomach started making loud protesting noises around 8:30 a.m.  The only time it quieted down was when I was wheeled through tunnels and hallways and eventually arrived after coming out of a maze into the OR -- it was probably too terrorized to issue even the tiniest gurgle at that point.

Afterwards I was able to order lunch, but since I had to be nearly flat on my back and was not allowed to even budge anything below my waste for fear of bleeding starting for more than 3 hours, it was a little hard to eat.  I tried anyway.  I NEEDED FOOD!  And try drinking water through a straw at that angle -- geez!  In the end, I felt like a sick Cleopatra, my sister feeding me grapes and bits of fruit from a fruit cup we'd ordered.  Was only able to eat a few bites of cottage cheese - didn't go down very well.  The ham and lettuce wrap was more successful as I was able to get that between my teeth and chew it up sufficiently before swallowing. 

Karen, the nurse who was there when I was first admitted, went off shift while my sister and I were feeding myself lunch.  She was a great nurse, let me tell you.  She made me feel about as relaxed as I was going to feel, and was very matter of fact about explaining how to keep my "wound" clean, signs to look for things going wrong (if it does go wrong) when I'm home after the procedure, she checked for bleeding afterward every 15 minutes like clockwork, she helped me sit up the first time and gave me plenty of time to get the dizziness out of my head.  We laughed together as she helped me wheel the IV thing to the bathroom the first time because, well before the procedure, the doctors wanted to make sure I was pumped full of saline solution.

My second nurse was Kathy, and she was a sweetheart, too.  She thought it was hilarious about how eager I was to jump out of bed and get dressed when I was given the "okay" to do so. But honestly, darlings, do you have any idea what it is like to go without your underwear for an extended period of time unless you're sleeping or in a swim suit?  I mean - geez!   She was in and out of the room a few times and during that time I'd quickly pulled on undies, jeans, bra and shirt, and had my sister remove the hospital "booties" from my feet (because I was not allowed to bend over or do anything to put any strain on the groin area where the holes had been made, in case bleeding should start up) and Sis put my fake Sketchers on me and tie them up.  Now that's family devotion, let me tell you.  LOL!  Nurse Kathy lauged and laughed every time she came through the curtained "door" and there I was with another piece of clothing on and then was standing there with shoulder bag and sunglasses on ready to GO after giving my "do" a quick once over with my hairbrush and adding a touch of make-up and Chapstick to dry lips in the mini-mirror on the inside of the locker-like "closet" where I'd stashed my clothes and bag hours before.

You won't remember any of this tomorrow, she cautioned, as she grinned from ear to ear.

Guess what.  She was wrong.

We'd used valet parking. Thank goodness.  It was hot and muggy outside, even though we were under a shaded canopy.  Early morning, it had been cool and damp.  Late August weather at its finest. I'm glad I did not have to walk through the blazing sun, dodging cars going this way and that in the busy hospital parking lot, and on the steaming asphalt, to get to our car -- even assuming we'd have been able to find it.  Nice to have a young man hold the door open for me and help me with my seat belt.  Well, I had gauze and bandaids on my left hand and right arm (where they'd drawn the tons of blood) and it was a little hard NOT to see that I'd just been through a hell of an ordeal.  Thank you, sweeties, just the nice touch I needed, to feel a little pampered. 

So, now for 48 hours I am restricted from doing anything too strenuous, including lifting 10 pounds or vacuuming or, heaven forbid, shoving my gas powered 6HP lawn mower around, LOL!  I do understand about not straining the groin area where the holes were made for the tubes, because I could start bleeding and it could quickly develop into a crisis, so I am being a good girl.  No mowing the lawn until tomorrow afternoon, and that's assuming the rain holds off long enough so that I can get a start on it at least.  Instead, I raked up lots of dead grass from the damaged front lawn areas to give my upper arms a good workout early this morning while it was still shady out there, and made sure that the hike back from the supermarket was under 10 pounds in each bag.  I can shower soon and change my dressing to a bandaid :)

But for now, I'm going to sit out on the deck with my feet up, and sweat a little bit in the hot humid weather.  Summer isn't over in Milwaukee yet!

2 comments:

  1. Jan!! Goodness!!
    I am nurse and I have been a patient MANY times ( too numerous to count in my book). I have had all kinds of tests done, tons of boodwork and tons of IV and 11 scopes to see if my tumor came back or not. I have disconnected my EKG monitor leads, climbed off the liter in the ER and taken my own IV with me to the bathroom-----many times!! I have gotten myslef up after surgery and told Joe that if I pass out then he can call a nurse! LOL!
    I went home the day after 4 hernia's were reparied with a 6 inch incision, a binder and a drain in that I had to tie to the shower rod to take a shower with...Again, Joe , please call the ambulance if I fall in the shower.....BUT... dress me first!!! LOL!!
    I have been on both sides and isn't getting older grand?????? LOL!!

    Hugs,
    Deb

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    1. Oh my goodness, Deb! You have been through so much! A tumor? I had no idea. And 11 scopes - does that mean what I think it does - they put a camera inside you??? Oy! I don't know if I could do that, I honestly do not know. You certainly have a great deal more fortitude than I do, for sure! I'll tell you, I am very grateful that we live in the internet age because I was able to look up lots of stuff and find out about it before it actually happened in the hospital, but some things just aren't described -- like that terrifying "trolley" ride to the OR for instance. There you are lying in bed in these cotton hospital gowns buck naked underneath being wheeled through the hallways and byways and people are trying not to look at you but of course they are looking at you -- you know, like it would be bad luck or something to look too much at that poor person being wheeled by! That was awful! I've always felt so sorry when I've been visiting at hospital and see other people being wheeled around. Now it was ME! Does your training as a nurse make it "easier" for you? It certainly sounds like your knowledge gives you more guts to get up and do things that need to be done, like unhooking yourself to go to the bathroom. My second sister is a registered nurse and my youngest sister (the one who was at the hospital with me yesterday) worked for many years as an aide and then as a phlebo- whatever that word is - the person who draws blood, so she is familiar with how hospitals run even if she doesn't have the technical knowledge that my nurse sister has. Knowing the things they told me and having Yvonne right there, who is not afraid to get in anyone's face if she thought I wasn't getting the proper care, that was really reassuring. I tell you though, I never thought I would be THAT scared. Not that I think of myself as a particularly brave person, but I knew this procedure was really the best way to get the information the heart specialists needed, so it was a necessary evil. I have always thought of myself as a practical person, and rather logical. But fear trumped logic yesterday, even as I knew I was acting quite irrationally. Well, in the end I did decide to stay on that narrow table in the procedure room even though I did think, quite seriously, about calling a halt to everything then and there! But I'm not brave, after all. Not sure I like that I'm such a chicken! YOU, on the other hand, are brave! Maybe some kind of magic will happen and some of that will rub off on me if I keep visiting your blog! BTW, love what you did to the upstairs bath! So pretty, like a floral bower almost. Thanks for stopping by, Deb.

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