Cardiac catheterization day
5:45 am – Set & ready to leave 🚗
Alike early hospital appointment days, the day beforehand I ensure my Go-to bag is packed with all its necessities. Clothes etc are taken out to save time in the morning. Advanced preparations make it a hassle free morning.
Enroute to hospital I quickly replied to messages from loved ones who wished me well for the day ahead, and requested to be kept notified as things unfolded.
My unique soul sister & quote digger 😆 posted the following image as a motivation for me and it was too beautiful not to share 💙💚💛🧡💖💜
We reached the hospital in good timing at 6:40 & it was still fairly quiet. As we entered I coached myself inwardly and continued praying with earnestly to keep calm
Thankfully I was among the first patients, attended to immediately.
“first come, first serve basis”
The earlier you’re there, the quicker you recieve a bed in the ward to be prepped and taken to cath lab.
Somehow the hospital was fully booked and they were waiting for a patient / patients to get discharged so myself and a few other patients (who were also booked for admission in advance) could get beds.
The first test began when the staff started hassling with the original amount quoted. Seriously, some of these people search for any opportunity to skin you alive. They wanted to charge an exorbitant fee “because stents cost so much and so much”
Whereas no mention was made of stents being included in the procedure. Duhhh! Is a 23 year old going to need stents????! There might be rare exceptions, but I’ve never heard of such a case before. Dr clearly mentioned when doing the confirmation, this will be a straight forward right and left heart cath. Nothing more included.
Our reasoning and proof fell onto deaf ears until we insisted they call Doc himself and hear what he has to say.. He was angered and gave strict instructions according to the initial agreement.
(Lol, this image is so true. Most people with complex chronic illnesses will be able to relate)
After the drama concluded (for that particular time), they said Dr is waiting so I’ll be taken straight to the lab because no beds are vacant.
From then onwards, things unfolded in fast motion. I was wheeled into the changing room by a very cheerful and pleasant nurse.. Told to lay down on a bed within the lab area outside the procedure room & covered with a nice “clean & fresh” hot blanket considering the wintry morning. Blood pressure, medication & other information was noted down. No IV given. Two little “relaxing” pills were popped under my tongue to dissolve.
The nurses were wonderful!! They made lots of jokes to ease the nervousness and took great care in ensuring everything was prepped correctly.
Then Dr’s assistant came. Wonderful person as well!! Introduced himself and explained what I should expect of the procedure incase I haven’t consulted with Dr Google already lol!
He also asked if I was nervous & said: “It’s human nature to be nervous for an unfamiliar procedure, but the calmer you are, the easier it is for us to puncture the artery and gain access. The more tensed you are, the harder it is to gain access”
Another nurse comes with a scissor and shaver to remove hair and clean the groin area if the Dr’s are inserting the catheter through there, so it’s best to do your shaving or waxing at home if possible. Less awkwardness and you feel confident being prepared.
The nurse stated: “You came well prepared when she saw there was no work for her with regards to that aspect lol.
The following is a summary of what to expect:
Excerpt from mayo clinic
Cardiac catheterization (kath-uh-tur-ih-ZAY-shun) is a procedure used to diagnose and treat certain cardiovascular conditions. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart.
Usually, you’ll be awake during cardiac catheterization but be given medications to help you relax. Recovery time for a cardiac catheterization is quick, and there’s a low risk of complications.
Why it’s done
Cardiac catheterization is done to see if you have a heart problem. It can also be done as part of a procedure to correct a known heart problem.
If you’re having cardiac catheterization as a test for heart disease, your doctor can:
- Locate narrowing or blockages in your blood vessels that could cause chest pain (angiogram)
- Measure pressure and oxygen levels in different parts of your heart (hemodynamic assessment)
- Check the pumping function of your heart (right or left ventriculogram)
- Take a sample of tissue from your heart (biopsy)
- Diagnose heart defects present from birth (congenital heart defects)
- Look for problems with your heart valves
(Image is to give you an idea how it looks inside the lab although here the screen was HUGE)
Dr came in & they commenced 💉
Some type of a liquid is first injected into the area (perhaps a numbing or sedative agent)
It hurts slightly because the needle goes deep in but his hands were very gentle. Dr is not a rushed or haphazard person. The pain is not unbearable and depends on your threshold.
If you’re a heamophobia – one who cannot tolerate the sight of blood squirting out then do not look at what they’re doing. Rather distract yourself by focusing on the screen at the side of you or the roof lol. Seeing blood is normal for me so I was fine, just felt a little queasy for a few minutes. The discomfort doesn’t last long. After that you don’t feel anything.
According to Drs assistants explanation if remembered correctly now: “Your heart doesn’t have nerve endings so you don’t feel pain from the catheter being inserted”
While performing the procedure I wasn’t explained step by step details. Only overheard the discussions between the duo as they were going along.. “This area, that area, anomalous pulmonary venous return”.. I observed with great fascination.
Lol the assistant was hilarious. When the nurse said: “Now you’re going to feel a hot flush” – at the time of injecting dye through the catheter.
He’d say: “They preparing you for menopause in advance” 😂😂😂😂
The relaxing pills had a soporific effect, so I was extremely drowsy after they concluded. Could not recall the full duration. But gauged that I was wheeled out after approximately +-50 / 65 minutes.
Strict instructions of immediate aftercare:
You cannot bend your right leg for 3 hours if the entry was on that side. And if you need to wee, you’re given a hollow bedpan.
Dr came to speak to me while I awaited a transferal to the ward for a half day admission until 12pm. But in my uncontrollable groggy and confused state I could not comprehend anything. He also realised that I was completely doped. The last I recall hearing, was a mixed trail of:
“I have good and bad news, but it’s ok I’ll speak to ur dad”
During that I was moved to a bed in a ward. But I was in my own realm of sleep & confusion until my brother tried shaking me awake to say it’s time to go home. Half carried from wheelchair into the car, I slept all the way home. When we reached, I got onto the bed & slept nonstop.
Cannot even recall who came to see me..lol. I remember opening my eyes in between and mumbling incoherently trying to converse with someone but drifted off again into my own world.
Until the next day at early noon, I finally awoke sober 😂 and alert to hear the news…
(Here is a link where you can get a glimpse of the procedure being conducted in the lab. Don’t bother about the logistics explained)