my heart is complete – part 4

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part four in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here

The Rest of the Day

After Will, Ella and I were reunited, I fed Ella and Will and I caught up, him telling me what the doctor had told him and me telling him how I was feeling. Then Will went to get some lunch for himself, and shortly later my lunch came. I was able to sit up and eat and had a good appetite.

In the afternoon, a friend came to visit which helped pass the time. I also got out of bed for the first time, which went just fine.

The rest of the day, Will and I just did things to pass the time: read, talk, eat, and watch a movie. The doctor came by to talk and see how I was feeling. He said the hole was only 19 mm, instead of 22 mm, as they originally thought, and the right side of my heart had been pumping two and a half times the amount of blood it should have been. He said he was very confident about how the device fit in and we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

The night was a bit long and uncomfortable, as one would expect. Will slept in a recliner the straightened into a bed, and Ella in the pack ‘n play a bit further down. When she woke up, I had to wake Will up and he’d get her and hand her to me. After I fed her, I’d have to wake up Will again, and hand her back. It was a bit of an ordeal, but we all managed. Needless to say, no one got a great rest. (We made up for it once we were home!)

The Next Day and Full Recovery

Friday morning, a nurse came by and did an echo on my heart. Later I was taken to get X-rays. Once the doctor had seen them, he came in and showed them to me and said everything looked perfect. After that, it was just time to wait to be discharged. That took longer than we wanted, but finally it was time to go home!

This is the x-ray of my heart. Look closely for the computer arrow. Near it are two white spots that mark the ends of the device. You can faintly see the outline of the discs as well.
This is the x-ray of my heart. Look closely for the computer arrow. Near it are two white spots that mark the ends of the device. You can faintly see the outline of the discs as well.

Will and I got lunch before picking up the kids from my parents. Once home, I promptly took a nice nap!

I felt pretty good Saturday and Sunday, with Ella sleeping so well at night too. I didn’t exert myself, but I was doing things at a relaxed normal. Monday morning, I was all set to get back to the grind and got up at my usual time. However, I felt terrible by the end of breakfast and took a nap. (Thankfully Will had planned to work from home Monday and Tuesday.) This was concerning because I was told I should only feel better. Nothing was said about taking it easy, outside of no exercise. Later a nurse called to see how I was doing and after hearing all that reassured me that it was normal. It was more abnormal that I felt so well on the weekend. She advised me to take it easy the next couple days, and I did.

Wednesday morning I had a follow up appointment with the doctor, which included another echo on my heart. I was nervous about how I would feel because I had to get up early in order to get the appointment on time. Thankfully, I felt great! And, everything still looked wonderful and my heart sounded like a normal heart! The doctor assured me I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. As he walked me out, he reflected that he’s done this procedure on people of all ages, even pregnant women, but I was the first nursing mother! He contributed my set back to the fact that I was basically back on demand immediately after the procedure.

Since then, I have felt pretty much normal. With so much anticipation before it, it’s strange to think it’s all over. I’m very thankful though, not only that it was possible, but that it went so well.

Thank you all again for all your prayers! They were certainly felt!

my heart is complete – part 3

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part three in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

You can read part one here and part two here.

The Procedure

Here it was. I was walking down the hallways with the nurse toward the operating room. It was time for the procedure.

Even with the relief that came with talking to the anesthesiologist, all my nerves were on full guard. My hunger had kicked in too and I felt jittery from the low blood sugar. But the nurse was so nice and chatty that it helped a lot to talk with her. It wasn’t a long walk and shortly we entered the room.

It. was. huge. Talk about intimidating! I wish I’d had a good five minutes to look around. Cabinets lined two sides of the triangular shaped room. There was a huge bed with multiple instruments around it. I heard the end of a Mumford and Sons song playing and it was comforting to have something familiar in there, and I made a joke about it. It reminded me of the scene in City of Angels where they blare rock music during a surgery. I guess I felt comfort in knowing that the people taking care of me liked the same kind of music as me. Although, for that situation I probably would have preferred the Canon in D. (Which probably would have made me weep.)

I climbed up on the bed and lay down. The anesthesiologist came over with the mask that would put me to sleep. He explained that first I would have the “lighter” gas that would get me started. It wouldn’t put me out, but would make me feel “floaty.” The nurses had flavored the mask with some kind of fruit scented paste (something they probably do for the kiddos). I continued to chat a little with the nurse holding the mask until I remembered I had wanted to pray during that time. (You know, just in case those were my last thoughts ever.) So I started to saying the Jesus Prayer in my head as I began to feel as if I were rising in the air. I let the anesthesiologist know I was feeling that way now and he told me he was going to add some heavier gas and it was going to be “kind of stinky”. I noticed what he meant as he reassured me I was doing great. The edges of my vision started to go black. “You’re doing wonderful.” I heard him say. “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ” I grasped with my mind, anxious that the moment was coming. And I was out.

Waking Up

I woke to the sounds of the heart monitor beeping. Nurses were bustling around. I quickly remembered where I was and why. My next two thoughts were, “Was he able to do it?” and “Is Ella ok?” I heard a nurse talking about her new haircut and I wished I could open my eyes and see it.

Yet I couldn’t open my eyes or move, so I rested knowing it would just take some time. A few minutes later I opened my eyes a bit and asked the nurse what time it was. She replied, “10:30.”

“It has been five and a half hours since I nursed Ella. Ok, she’ll probably still be okay by now,” I thought. (Note: Ella had been going through a phase where she didn’t want to eat in the morning until she had been up a couple hours, so a long stretch was normal for her.)

Next I asked if the doctor had been able to put the device in. I was assured he had. “Thank you Lord!” I thought. Gradually I was able to take a few sips of water, and move just a bit. At first I felt a bit nauseous, but realized it just meant I needed to stay still a bit longer.

Before 11:00, I was wheeled to my room. I was to lay in bed four hours without moving my legs, in order to ensure the catheter sites stopped bleeding completely. Originally I had thought these would be cuts, but instead they were like large IV sites they poked in, two on my right leg.

I was eager to see Will and Ella and we had been told that a nurse would let them know when I was in my room. I kept waiting and finally asked my nurse about it and she said she’d check. Right at noon, they walked in. Apparently the nurse who was supposed to let him know had been busy or forgot. This was the only glitch of the day, and really a minor one. Ella had been fine; I think Will was more anxious to see me than she was. However, the doctor had talked to him after they finished the procedure so he had known that it went well.

In the next post I’ll share more about my recovery as well as some interesting information about my heart and an x-ray showing the device!

my heart is complete – part 2

On Thursday August 25th, I went through the procedure to place a device in the inch sized hole in my heart (technically known as an ASD). And I lived!

This is part two in my series about that experience. It was really a fascinating experience, and there is too much to tell in one simple post.

At the Hospital

The hospital I went to is a famous children’s hospital. It felt weird being the patient. As I was getting checked in, the lady kept referring to me as “her” until she looked at my birth year and said, “Oh, you’re the patient.” Yep. That’s me. After checking in, we waited with others for a nurse to take us up to the floor we needed to be on. When we were, I was joined by an infant and a tween, along with their parents.

Up on the floor, Will and I were led to a room and I was given gowns and socks to change into. They were so flattering! (ha) A nurse reviewed all my information with me and did all those normal things. By now it was 6:15.

hospital gowns

 

At 6:45, the doctor came to talk to us. He wasn’t a surgeon, but a cardiologist who specializes in these procedures. He was very congenial and we liked him immediately. He made it clear that they were hoping to fill the hole. Because of the size, there was a chance it would be too big. My case was very probable, but he was just saying that so there would be no surprises. He showed us an example of the device, which was incredibly interesting. After talking with him, I was confident I would have good care.

closure deviceLater the anesthesiologist came. I wasn’t sure of him at first, but after talking for a while, I felt more comfortable. I had to like him after he relieved me of my two biggest concerns: yes, I could nurse Ella right after I woke up and, probably, I won’t be nauseous.

After feeling like things were dragging, all of the sudden a nurse came to walk me to the operation room. Up to this point, Will had been with me. As we walked to a T in the hallway, Will went left and I went right.

The procedure and recovery coming up next!