Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Round 1-part 2

I'm led into the EP study lab by a nurse. This place looks like something out of a sci-fi movie or a tv drama series. One table in the middle with gadgets all over the place. A 6-screen monitor on wheels and nurses turning on some "jamming" music to keep their energy levels up while they work on me. It felt like it was about 55 degrees in there and I was dealing with the paper-thin gown and footie socks. They were terribly inadequate for insulating me from the elements.

I hopped onto the table, which was as wide as a weight bench, and to lay all the way down, I had to lean back while curling around some thing that was suspended over the table. They brought me a couple of warming towels to cover me which was nice but the heat wore off quickly and I had to ask for another set after a couple minutes of prep time. I couldn't shake the cold and I was a little bit nervous too.

They were slapping me with those electrode pads from every angle. They numbed my entire hip area with an iodine, roll-on deodorant looking tube. They strapped my wrists down with velcro cuffs so I wouldn't interfere with their work. The procedure involves putting tiny catheter tubes into the veins in the groin. The veins let them get up to the heart where they map the electrical circuits and try to pinpoint irregularities. To my right was the computer room. A few folks were behind glass where they had computers and other equipment to read my heart's electric map. There were a lot of people involved in this procedure and it's nice to know that they are really good at their jobs. I have no complaints about Cooper Hospital.

The next thing I know, I'm waking up to my two happy prep nurses, counting to three so they can yank me off the table, onto a bed. I guess I'm done. I was rolled away to my room where Kim was waiting. This was around 7:30pm. I don't remember a lot about the next few hours, but my doctors came in and give me their results. They did find Atrial Tachycardia in my heart, but since they started working on me so late in the day, they couldn't do the Ablation procedure. The verdict is... they need to do the EP study again in a month and do the ablation to wipe out the problem, hence my title "Round 1". I need a few weeks to heal up before they can go poking holes in my legs again.

All in all, there was very minimal pain involved. The worse part was on Tuesday morning when I had to rip off all those electrode pads. I got an Echo test and my discharge papers by 11am on Tuesday morning. 25 hours or so and I walked out, slightly hunched over and shuffling along. Nothing really got fixed but at least I know what the deal is with my ticker. Next time, it should get resolved and I can move on.

Choose Wisely

Round 1-part 1

Monday was a long, long, long day. Kim and I arrived at Cooper just before 10am. First up was the tilt table test. They strapped me to a bed and hooked me up to a heart monitor and a blood pressure thingy. They tilt the bed up to about 80 degrees but it still feels like you're standing up straight. 45 minutes just standing there chatting with the nurse while he records my blood pressure every minute. Next, they put me flat and start pushing adrenaline through the IV. My normal rest rate was in the 60's so they needed it to be above 90 before they could stand me up again, this time for 15 minutes of bp readings. The adrenaline definitely felt funny since I wasn't running around or exercising to build up the rate on my own. But it wasn't too bad, only got up to about 125 bpm, mostly between 100-115. 15 minutes was enough of that though. Thus ended the tilt table test, they laid me back down to relax for a few minutes before I dismounted and headed carefully for a chair (little bit dizzy). This puts us around 12:30

They didn't really learn much from the tilt table, lots of people can pass out from it but I've never had symptoms that lead to passing out or even feeling dizzy. I just have a palpitation and some heart racing issues that aren't normal but aren't too severe either. Anyway, we started chatting with the Doctors about what to do next. Eventually we decided to go ahead with the EP Study and the Ablation procedure if they found something worthwhile. That's what we planned on doing and it didn't seem right to get to that point and just walk away without learning anything new. Now we're up to 2:30pm.

waiting around... waiting around...

4:45 the Fellow for the EP study lab comes in to chat a bit and get more info.
5:00 the nurses arrive and take me away to the lab.

more later...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Electrical problems

I wanted to put a quick note out there because I haven't blogged about some health issues I've been going through for the last few months. When I was sick with flu-type stuff around Christmas and visiting my doctor, I made a casual reference about feeling some heart palpitations, or "blips" or whatever you want to call them. Things sort of snowballed from there... cardiologist visits, stress tests, heart monitors. This all leads up to tomorrow.

In the morning I'll be going to Cooper Hospital to get some tests and/or procedures done to try and fix my problems. As far as I understand, and in completely non-technical terms, I have some miscommunication between the different electrical nodes in my heart. Sometimes I have a "blip", where my heart speeds up for a few seconds, and sometimes my heart races and I don't know it's happening. That's about the best I can break it down for you. I'll be getting a tilt table test and probably the EP Study. I'm sure I'll understand it a little better once I talk to the doctors who actually do these things. I'll try to report on more of the details when I can make sense out of them.

I'd be lying if I said I'm totally relaxed about this stuff. Mostly, I have tried not to think about it too much, which only works sometimes. I like to think I'm not a worrier and I can handle all the stress that is built up by this issue, not to mention my job stress, which has snuck up on me quite a bit lately. But at this point, it's not just stress that's got my ticker all messed up. I need to get these things done and put it behind me.

My appointment is at 10am on 3/16. I'll do my best to send an update ASAP. I might have to stay over 1 night but I won't know that until it's done.

Choose Wisely