Wednesday, November 29, 2017

My Experience as a Heart Patient: Heart Cath

Image result for heart images

As many of you know I went into the hospital in October of 2017 with heart attack symptoms. I subsequently had open heart surgery and was in the hospital for two weeks. When I got out I couldn't believe how fresh the air felt (two weeks in a hospital is a stretch) and I felt like I wanted to share my experiences as a heart patient. So I'm going to do that periodically- share my experiences in the hospital, and how it felt to come to grips with a diagnosis like that. This is by nature a personal post, but I hope it will be helpful or informative to someone if they or someone they know goes through something similar. 

So I'm going to talk about the heart catheterization procedure. This is where the doctor will thread a very thin catheter through your vein or artery into the heart to see what's happening. The catheter has a tiny camera on it that allows them to see the chambers of the heart. I've had relatives who've had it done and they said it was a piece of cake, but I was always skeptical. They commonly go through a blood vessel in the leg or your wrist, and thankfully my team went with the wrist approach. Going through the leg did not seem like a piece of cake to me!

To be honest, it was a breeze. I was wheeled in and the nurses were fabulous- they were funny, joking around, and efficient. They don't put you out but they do sedate you to keep you calm, and frankly I felt very little. They warned me that I might feel a slight pressure in my wrist as they inserted the cath, and I might feel a slight flushing in my arm briefly- I did feel both, but there was no pain at all. It was so easy! And it was over before I knew it. Throughout the process the nurses kept it light and humorous- I joked after word that it was the most "fun" procedure I had the whole time I was there. Now that may have just been that particular team, but I can't say enough good things about that group. 

The other thing that cracked me up was that they had classic rock playing when I was wheeled in, and between that and their joking around they totally set me at ease. I thought it interesting that my favorite song- Barracuda by Heart- was playing as I was there. That had to be a good sign right? And sure enough, it went by in a flash and I was done. Now the results did confirm that I had had a heart attack, and I'll get into that at a later time. But the takeaway for me is- if you ever need a catheterization done, don't be afraid. They're very efficient, low- risk, and my experience was very positive. I'm sure there are instances that have not been as positive as mine, but I personally thought it was a breeze. Good music helps though too. 

54 comments:

  1. I'm glad to hear you had such a great team of nurses and that that procedure went well :-) And it's great how your favorite music can put you at ease for these kinds of things.

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    1. The team was fantastic! And I'm sure that was part of my good experience- I know not everyone's experience is probably as smooth as mine was.

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  2. I've heard others mention getting a heart cath and that it was easy but this is the first time I've read a first hand account. It's amazing they can insert a camera tiny enough to feed through an artery. And I love that they played classic rock. That would have helped relax me. :) Thank goodness you had such a great team.

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    1. Same here- my mom actually had one and she said it was a piece of cake, but I was a little skeptical. Then it turned out really smooth for me, so I was pleasantly surprised. I joked that the IV and blood draws hurt moe than the cath did!

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  3. Wow it so amazing the technology they use. I love how the song by Heartbeas playing. Maybe they have a heart related playlist. Probably not Bob Jovi’s “Shot through the Heart and your to blame...” lol. Too soon? Thanks for sharing your experience. As I mentioned to you before my husband has high cholesterol so we are trying to prevent future problems. The ironic thing is that he is 6’4” and 180 pounds so his weight is fine but has inherited this problem. He misses pizza and potato chips. Have a great week.

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    1. I know. And yes I love that song, so I had to think- is this a sign??? It relaxed me. :) I wondered that too- if they play music based on what they think someone's preference will be by age or whatever, or if they just play their favorite station and that's it.

      Good luck to your husband! Is he on medication for the cholesterol? And yeah I was gonna say 180 lbs is pretty good for his height, so he has that going for him. But I know how family history can be- I think that had a lot to do with mine. I misspizza too... :)

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  4. Stupid autocorrect. Should say Heart was playing and Bon Jovi not Bob Jovi ๐Ÿ˜‚

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  5. I'd like a bit of ACDC or Metallica...

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    1. That would certainly rock the procedure!!

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  6. Your nurses and doctors sound lovely! I'm so happy to read this!! I've been thinking about you a lot, and I'd love to read your updates!

    My mom had her first angioplasty a couple months ago. They found that one artery was 90% blocked and another was 100% blocked. She really lucked out; they were amazed that she was still here. The really scary part... she had NO heart attack symptoms other than a pain in the center of her chest (which the doctors thought was anxiety) and failing a stress test (that she demanded to have to make sure she was okay).

    So in that first round they put in three stents. But nothing changed, and after the surgery she was actually in a lot more pain. Just yesterday she went back in for another angioplasty. One of the stents had blocked the artery 90% again... they did a procedure with a little balloon, but I can't remember what it is called right now. I just spoke with her now that she's out of the hospital, and she feels SO much better!

    Do you have to go to cardiac rehab? My mom says she is so glad that she goes. Just being around others that understand is very helpful to her :) Thank you for sharing this with us! And I hope you continue to feel better and better! <3

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    1. Thanks Erica! The team was fabulous- I met the doctor who was gonna do the cath beforehand, and he was really cool, so when I met his team being wheeled in and they were playing rock music, I wasn't surprised. :)

      Wow your mom was lucky, sounds like! Those are serious blockages. I am SO glad she's okay and that the second procedure helped- I think stents work well sometimes but I know in my case the lesions in the one artery were too spread out to do stenting- they would have had to put too many stents in and they said the more you have, the more chance one fails. Open heart was my only option *gulp* So I'm not totally surprised she had a stent failure- but I am GLAD they did the balloon and fixed it. And that she didn't have to have open heart. All my wishes and prayers for her to be smooth sailing from here on out!

      I am going to cardiac rehab. My follow up with the surgeon is tomorrow and then I go to rehab after that. It was voluntary but I said yeah I wanna do it, I wanna learn as much as I can because I was surprised how slow the recovery is. I thought eh a few weeks and you're probably good, and it's like- no, it takes a wee bit longer than that!!

      Thanks for the well wishes too!!!

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    2. You can't go wrong with a doctor that loves rock! :) Gosh, yeah, my mom sure was lucky! I'm glad you were able to get things figured out on your end quickly as well!

      Oh yes, definitely! I hope you are able to take as much time to recover and heal as you can! <3

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  7. Wow, interesting! I love that *Heart* was playing, do you think everyone gets a different Heart song? Glad it went smoothly๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. I know, the irony should have hit me but instead I was like ooh Barracuda lol.

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  8. Interesting. I’ve heard of people getting this procedure done, but I didn’t know what it was like. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you’re okay.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. Thanks AJ. It went a lot smoother than I thought!

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  9. So scary! I saw on Twitter you were in the hospital and having surgery. I hope things are going better now. I love that song btw. It would have set me at ease too.

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    1. Yeah that song made all the difference. And thanks- I appreciate it :)

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  10. I'm sure I would have been nervous too, even if others had told me it was easy. I'm glad that the team made you feel completely at ease---that can make such a huge difference!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  11. A great team and I am happy it all went well

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  12. I am so glad you are sharing your story. I hate MRI's but I love that they let you select music to listen to while they do it to help you relax. It's great to have a good team behind you. I am glad they made you feel at ease.

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  13. the hospital you went to sounds really good. I had to skim some parts of this post because I started getting faint lol I have a hard time reading medical stories XD
    But I am glad you had a great team around you and that it all came out good

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  14. I love that the band's name is Heart - very ironic, but a good sign as well as it being your favorite song! I'm so glad that the procedure went well and you had fantastic nurses and doctors!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  15. Friendly and informative personal and drs can make all the difference, right? Even so, two weeks in the hospital is a long time. Glad you're on the mend, Greg! :)

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  16. What a good sign that your favorite song is playing! I hope you are feeling better Greg! Good luck with your recovery. :) It's great that the people at the hospital were so amicable.

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  17. I'm glad everything went smoothly though! I guess recovery was the harder part in your case!

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    1. Shannon just yelled at me because I don't know much about medicine and this apparently was not the open heart surgery and actually a different procedure. SO I AM BACK TO CORRECT MYSELF and I am glad the heart catheterization procedure went smoothly!

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  18. I think mindset is SO important, and to have such awesome medical staff is fabulous in situations like this. The nurses sound amazing, I'm glad that they happened to be your team! And to hear your favorite song must have been a fun surprise hah- I mean, plus you were drugged so that certainly helped :D Even though I am sure it was scary at the time, the whole idea that they can straight up stick a camera in your heart through your wrist is just... incredible! And even though the results weren't ones you hoped for, at least they had such great technology to catch it and fix it! Also, two weeks in the hospital does sound like a LOT. I'm just glad you're home and getting better :) Thanks for sharing this, it's really informative!!

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  19. The procedure actually sounds totally intense to me, but I'm happy to hear you were in fact quite comfortable and it was a breeze! I hope you are feeling better and thanks for sharing your experience :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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  20. I'm glad you're okay and sharing your experience. I'm sure it could be scary. That's cool they had your favorite song. Good sign for sure!

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  21. Having your favorite song come on was definitely a good sign, and it's so great that your medical team went above and beyond to put you at ease! I hope that you're continuing to feel better every day! :D

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  22. I can certainly see why you were skeptical that it would be a breeze! But I'm glad you were wrong and it was so easy and painless. Nurses make all the difference. I know when I had my surgery this summer they were amazing! It's awesome yours were so great and kept you having a good time :) Hope your continuing to feel better!

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  23. I think it great you are sharing your story and that the catheterization was a good experience (I mean as good as it can be for what it is) for you. My mom has had to do this multiple times. She hasn't had to have surgery but multiple stents. It is still a scary thing to deal with and think about!

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  24. Neat that they had rock playing when you were wheeled in. It's nice when they try to make things comfortable for you. Thanks for sharing your experience, Greg!

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  25. My husband had the heart cath done but they went through his leg and he was knocked out. It went really well but he had problems waking up and was turning blue Yikes. But once they saw they made him talk and move around and he was fine.

    Not quite as stress free as yours but our staff was great too and was a super quick in and out thing.

    For What It's Worth

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  26. Thanks for sharing your experience. Just hearing the words "Heart Catheterization" makes my stomach churn, so I'm glad to hear that the procedure is actually nowhere near as frightening as it sounds. It's also great that you had such amazing nurses to help keep you calm throughout the experience. And Barricuda? YES!

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  27. Thanks, Greg! Good to know not to be scared if this ever comes up in the future. Is this going to be a weekly post? ๐ŸŒŸ๐Ÿ’–✨

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  28. I think it's great you are sharing your experience. It helps others. My Dad's was more complicated and involved his leg but your's sounds likes the best case scenario so I am happy to hear that. Speedy recovery my friend.

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    1. Sorry Greg, I was on my business Google account, and saw your post on Twitter..LOL Forgot to sign as Caffeinated.

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  29. Sorry you had a heart attack Greg! :(

    I did know you had surgery but I didn't know why

    Wow every time I hear someone talking about that procedure it doesn't sound like a breeze! So I'm so happy it was for you and that there was no pain whatsoever!

    A professional compassionate staff can definitely make a difference huh?

    Barracuda huh?! That must have felt so epic :)

    I'm so glad you are ok and recovering well. Looking forward to the next post and thanks for sharing!

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  30. Thanks for sharing your experiences. My grandfather has had several of these the past few years but no one has ever explained the procedure as well as you did here. I'm glad you had a great surgical team and yes, I imagine good music would help.

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  31. Thanks for sharing your experience Greg! Two weeks in the hospital sounds like an impossibly long time. I agree that the wrist sounds way better than the leg and it's nice to know that there was very little pain. I have a family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol so I'm always a little worried when I hear about these kinds of procedures because they sound so scary! I'm glad to know that this one really doesn't sound like that big of a deal - or at least the actual process doesn't. It sounds like the nurses were awesome and that's definitely a good sign with the song! Hope your recovery is going well and you're taking care of yourself.

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  32. I'm glad you had a positive experience despite the nature of the experience itself. And thank you for sharing it with us. <3

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  33. Wow. As it is I have had high cholesterol for awhile and wouldn't be surprised if this decision came upon me someday. Good to know what is involved. Thanks for sharing!

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  34. I'm so sorry you had a heart attack, Greg! But I'm SUPER happy that you came through this experience quickly and well, and are obviously doing GREAT! :) :)

    It's WONDERFUL that you had such a great team of nurses working with you! Having a great sense of humor, and cheering up patients, is definitely essential in the medical profession. Allaying patients' fears is a very necessary skill for both doctors and nurses, and what better way to do it than by joking around? I'm SO glad you had that experience with these nurses, Greg! The music helped, too! "Barracuda" happens to be one of my faves by Heart. And how appropriate that you were listening to music by that particular group! :) :)

    My husband had a heart attack several years ago, and has had catheterizations before, too. He currently has five stents in his heart, and is on the ketogenic diet. On this diet, you avoid sugars and carbs. He's been following it very strictly, and has lost a lot of weight.

    If you're interested, here are some links:

    https://www.ruled.me/guide-keto-diet/

    https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto

    https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101
    (You need to scroll down to see the article.)

    https://draxe.com/keto-diet/keto-diet-food-list/

    Take care, Greg!! Hope you're having a GREAT Saturday!! <3 :)

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  35. Really glad all went well! And that you had a good team :)

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  36. Wow - I knew from Twitter than you'd been in the hospital but I didn't know why. So glad you are doing well.

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  37. Sorry commenting on iPad and hit publish too soon. I'm looking forward to these posts. I also have high cholesterol in my family and my doctor is always like "don't worry about it" but at my next appointment I will have questions. Hope you continue to feel better - I have been thinking about you.

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  38. Wow, that procedure sounds so chilled. Now I have basically not been to the hospital for anything but visiting others (*touch wood*) so I know I;d be panicking over an procedure but's it's great the team put you a ease and helped you relax when it came to it. I think playing music would especially help and really those doing the procedure probably have done it plenty of times before so they can be a bit more relaxed to help keep you calm too.

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  39. I was concerned about what had happened but did not want to pry, so thank you for sharing this! Heart caths have come a long way. It is a procedure that never failed to impress me during all of my years of nursing. It sounds like you had an awesome team, but I am willing to bet your amazing attitude and spirit are what made it such a smooth and successful process my friend! You rock :) Keep at it!

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  40. Just peeking in to read and it is so reassuring to hear that this part of the procedure went well and the team were so efficient and caring. And good to see on your Sunday Post you are healing well.

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  41. Coming back to comment on this because I see I hadn't commented when I read it.

    I'm really glad that this part of the process was so comfortable and professional for you! It sounds like it was a fantastic team with everything aligned for the best procedure you could have hoped for - I mean, favourite song playing? Awesome!

    Great info and great takeaway. Thanks!

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  42. Good to know that one need not be nervous about procedure itself. Cool about the song playing -- definitely a good sign.

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  43. Thanks for sharing your story. Although different, I have had two cardiac ablations with insertion in the groin. As freakish as it all sounds, my procedures were relatively not a big deal either, and if someone needs to have an ablation, do not panic!

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