Well, since many of you already have been filled in with this information, feel free to simply peruse the pictures. Or read it again for clarification. Or, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, welcome to the loop. 🙂
I had the last three of my four heart tests scheduled this summer. Last Friday at 7:30 am, (well 8, since my mother asked so many questions) up at Sacred Heart in Spokane. What were they doing? The first test was in July and had mixed results – mostly because I couldn’t complete it due to the stupid seizures I kept having due to the doctors not letting me eat. But no bad news and a bit of good news – my heart is a workhorse (just like the rest of my family’s hearts).
The last round of tests required anesthesia and a stay in the hospital (just for the day, thank goodness). A TEE (Trans-esophageal Echocardiogram) was first. It’s like an Upper GI but they look at the back of your heart instead of your stomach. A probe is stuck down your throat that does a sonogram of your heart and is useful in cases like mine since the surgical work I had done as an infant was on the back of my heart. They were examining the baffle – the rerouting of the blood – that was done at nine months. Generally during puberty, patients who’ve had the same procedure as me start having problems, often major, with their baffle as it wears out. But mine is in near perfect condition, which my doctor was very pleased with.
The second test, a heart cath, wasn’t so much a test as a little look around. They cut you open at the groin and thread a camera up your femoral vessel(s) to take a peek at what’s going on from the inside. In my case, my dr wanted to check blood pressure levels. I have a bit of a weak tri-cuspid valve so they like to keep the pressure down. I’ve been on pills to keep my BP low since I was a teenager. Once again they didn’t find anything to upset them.
The third test was the one which didn’t turn out as well as the previous few. It’s called an EP study (electrophysiology study). They use the vein for the heart cath to stick an electric shocker into your heart and try to shock it into an abnormal rhythm. Once they get it there, they see how long it takes for it to go back to normal, whether it needs shocking, etc. Usually, a good test takes two hours. Mine only took forty minutes before I went into ventricular tachycardia (what killed Tim Russert), and it took two shocks to get my stubborn ticker back into sinus rhythm. I’m not concerned about the two shocks, since everytime I’ve been zapped, it’s taken more than one try. What can I say, my heart doesn’t give up easily.
However, my cardiologist was pretty concerned and so now we’re planning on inserting a defibrillating pacemaker. Yep – just what it sounds like. An implantable crash cart. If my heart goes into a dangerous abnormal rhythm for more than a few seconds, the pacemaker goes off and steadies the rhythm with gentle shocks. If it still won’t convert, (which is likely with me and my history of stubborn cardiac muscle) it lets off a larger shock – compared to being spin kicked in the chest. Yay? And if that doesn’t work, it’ll hit with a harder one.
Needless to say, I’m not exactly pleased with the results, as it means another surgery (I HATE waking up from being under anesthesia), an overnight stay in the hospital, six weeks of recovery, and a lifestyle change. No more cell phones in my pockets, MRI’s (my neurologist won’t be happy), and I can’t be an arc welder. Bummer on the last one. For a month, I can’t wash my own hair, do laundry, drive, pick things up heavier than 10 lbs, raise my left arm above my shoulder, etc etc etc. And I’m independent and stubborn, so it’ll be rough.
Overall, this bout of tests wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. But not as stellar as all of my tests have been in the past. I wowed them all with my fast clotting abilities when it came to healing. I was released 18 hours early from the hospital and got to hang out in Spokane with my mom and Jason for an evening and morning, and I love Spokane. If you have other questions, feel free to ask me on facebook, email, or in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them. Now some pictures: a chai from a great bakery we found, and the burn marks from me getting shocked back to life – yay!