Day 3 of 3 — Part II

So where to begin…

Had 800am Echo appointment and an on the spot ECG right before. As per usual, the ECG told us that I have an irregular sinus rhythm, the Left side of my heart is enlarged and things just aren’t normal. Like I said, same as usual.

The Echo took longer than usual because there were 7 pages of measurements which had to be recorded for the study. It was not pleasant. It never is, for me, too much pain. Anyhow, the really cool lady that did my Echo was super nice and chatty. We talked about random stuff like how her daughter used to work at the same spa as I did way back when, her son is an animator for Bioware and worked on some of the Star Wars Jedi Knights game series and other random topics. She felt so badly for causing me so much pain, but unfortunately it’s one of those things that can’t be avoided. my body is just uber sensitive so there’s no real way of getting around stuff like that, so I just make a lot of whimpering noises, grin, and bear it.

While she was doing my echo, she was cool enough to show me my heart! I’d never been shown my heart in motion before nor have I been given a chance to listen to it on an ultrasound machine. It was neat ^_^

After doing the echo & ecg in the brand-spanking new wing of the hospital, we had to trek all the way back to the Research Office so I could do my 6-minute walking test. It went as usual, apparently I was just motoring along… whatever that means, in the scheme of things.

Once the walking test was done we still had a couple of hours to kill before I had to be checked in at the GI Endoscopy Lab, so The Hubbs made the executive decision for us to take off to Cross Iron Mills for an hour to see if we could spend my last birthday gift certificate. No such luck in that department, unfortunately. For one, by the time we’d left the hospital, I was starting to shut down from being so tired and for as many times as I cruised around Indigo trying to find a couple of books that I’d like to add to my collection (mainly cookbooks), there just weren’t any to be had. So we ended up going back to the hospital a little earlier, with a Chocolate-Banana smoothie instead.

Back at the hospital and checked in with the GI Endoscopy Lab, things were rather uneventful. I got my bed, changed into my gown, went over my health history, my drug list and had 2 IVs inserted only because the first one, as usual, failed to take properly. The second one went in without a hitch. Once that was all done, I ended up sitting around on my gurney for another hour playing Sackboy until Hawt Doc came in to say hi and check to see how things were going before we started. We talked a little about my Hamthrax episode and how I’ve been feeling since I’d seen him back in the summer. Once that was all done, they were pretty much ready for me in the surgical suite, so I was packed up and shipped off to my surgery.

Here’s where the “fun” stuff happened. Once I was brought to the “Bronch Suite”, I was once again hooked up with more electrodes for a second ECG, a blood pressure cuff and an O2 sats monitor. A resident came in and introduced herself, as she was learning under Hawt Doc and everyone got everything prepped. Basically I was going to be draped in such a fashion to keep the area they would be working on as sterile as possible. It was a little weird, given that they were working on the right side of my neck.

Once I was properly positioned, no easy feat I must add, my head was lowered as far as the bed would allow, I had to look as far back as my neck would stretch and then I had to turn my head to the left just so they could find the vein in my neck that they’d be working on. Then they cleansed the area with a fantastic red dye and took the ultrasound machine to my neck again to locate the vein with more precision. At this point there was a lot of deep poking and prodding with the wand because it was difficult to find, but found it was… eventually. Once they found what they were looking for, they injected a local anesthetic into the skin originally only two times, but in the end it was three times. I was pretty numbed up by the end of it all.

So basically what happened after the freezing took effect, was they inserted a needle into the vein and then they slid the catheter in all the way to the heart and then a wire is sent through which is used to take all the measurements they require. The wire is actually, from what I gathered, more like a balloon that inflates to the maximum volume available to it and it translates to a proper measurement. Once they did preliminary measurements, they let me breathe through a mask that had some gas mixed with oxygen for 10 minutes and then did the same tests again after the gas to see if there were any changes. Everything went according to plan and an hour later, everything was removed from my neck.

… Unfortunately, during the procedure, they managed to injure my vocal chords. We’re not entirely sure how it happened, but once all the equipment was removed from my neck, I couldn’t speak or cough properly. There are a few theories as to what could have happened:

* Because my head was tilted backwards and wrenched all the way back, there’s a possibility that it could be some acid reflux that came up and irritated things.
* The gas I was breathing could have ~really~ dried things out in my throat.
* The local anaesthetic could have done some damage from numbing my vocal chords.

Personally? I’m voting none of the above. If I had to choose, I would say the last option might be a contributing factor. But truth be told, the weird thing I noticed during the surgery was that I could actually feel the tube being inserted into my neck and down to my heart. It didn’t hurt, but it did feel really ticklish, I had to try my damnedest not to giggle lest I completely freak out Hawt Doc’s team. Once the tube was properly placed, it was sutured to keep it in position and I could feel the weight of the tube on my vocal chords, that much I do know and I have a feeling that, more than anything, is what caused some of the problems.

When I tried to sit up and speak, I couldn’t. My voice kept coming and going, when I coughed it was the most horrible thing I had ever heard (imagine an 80 year old smoker’s cough that’s wheezy and can’t get a proper breath in) and I had pain in places that weren’t normal. This prompted a few extra exams on Hawt Docs part while I was sitting on the surgical table and a STAT chest x-ray to rule out the possibilty of them having collapsed a lung — they were getting kind of freaked out by that point. The portable X-ray came, and everything looked clean — no collapsed lungs in site.

While I was in recovery, my voice did finally come back as time went by (about an hour in recovery) but it still wasn’t sounding 100% by the time we left the hospital at 500pm.

Hawt Doc came down to see me & The Hubbs before leaving recovery and he said everything went according to plan, with the exception of my weird vocal issues. The surprising thing was that they found out my heart is having some problems. He didn’t really go much into detail beyond that. Because of the vocal chord scare, he wants me back to see him in clinic Friday morning just to make sure things are okay and we’ll talk about everything then.

So all in all, that was my day. Long and hard.

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