llcoolvad: (newer)
[personal profile] llcoolvad
Haven't updated in a while. It's now been four months since my surgery. I've had a bunch of tests recently because my breathing issue hasn't resolved (I can't walk very far or very fast without getting out of breath), and I would like it to. A couple of CAT scans (I've had four this year. I probably glow now), a bunch of blood work, etc. I had an appointment with a pulmonologist, who took me for a walk with a pulse ox on my finger and who kind of freaked out when a brief walk up the slightest of inclines pumped my heart rate to 140*. Had his staff do an instant EKG. That turned out to be fine. So he then scheduled me for a battery of tests: pulmonary, echocardiogram (HATED that, so painful pushing on my incision site for 40 minutes), and a stress test. Didn't get enough data from all of that, so a little over a week ago I had an invasive stress test (they referred to it as the "Cadillac of stress tests"). This involves inserting two catheters: one catheter in the neck, which allows them to feed an electrode into the patient's heart, and then an arterial IV in the arm, so they can take arterial blood during the test.

(* I was taking Tramadol at the time, which can have the side effect of increased heart rate. I stopped taking it when I figured that out, and haven't seen it that high since then. I am completely pain-med-free right now, so at least that's not affecting my breathing/heart rate at all)

So they wheeled me into an operating room to insert the catheters. Asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to. I jokingly said The Clash, so within a minute they had London Calling queued up on Pandora. Amusing. The procedure was a bit scary, however. But the surgeon told really bad doctor jokes and kept me distracted. It didn't hurt beyond the needle with the numbing agent. But it was disturbing anyway. They're threading an electrode through a tube in my neck into my HEART! Gross. And it was more vigorous than I would have expected. And the arterial IV just GUSHED blood initially all over my hand. Also gross.

Once I was cleaned up I was wheeled into the stress test room. They hooked me up to a bunch more electrodes (like for an EKG) and then attached them all to a belt around my waist. They had an IV stand hooked up with fluids (?) also attached, and they made me climb up onto an exercise bike, where they taped my feet onto the pedals. Then the echocardiogram technologist came in, and he was about 12. He stuck his hand down inside my johnny with the ultrasound wand, threaded his way through all the cables, and started searching around under my left breast to see if he could get a good image. Thankfully he couldn't, because MAN that sucked. So they did a bit of resting rates, including several vials of blood from the arterial line, then had me start to pedal. You have to keep it steady at 60rpm with no resistance (at first) which is hard because with no resistance your feet just spin around fast. Over the next 13 minutes they tapped me for blood every minute (apparently from both my heart and my artery) and increased the resistance. My heart rate finally got to over 150 and eventually they let me cool down and stop.

So the next week I saw the pulmonologist again and he said that I have a few things wrong with me: 1. body habitus is creating a mechanical disadvantage, 2. mild HFpEF, and 3. pulmonary mechanical limit. I need to probably ask more questions about the pulmonary mechanical limit. I think I understand the other two. Thankfully I recorded my appointment so I could play it back a few times and understand what he said. I gotta say, I will never go to the doctor again without recording it. The bottom line: I need to lose weight. I asked how I could lose weight if I couldn't breathe, and he said that the good news was that there it's safe to push myself to shortness of breath, that there was nothing concerning in that regard. Yay, I won't keel over while I exercise! Yay.

So basically I am fat and I need to exercise and eventually my shortness of breath will fade. I knew the first two already, thanks. Amazing that two years ago I was able to walk very quickly for three-four miles a day, and two years later I can't walk 300-400 steps without gasping like a beached fish. Sigh.

So that's basically the latest. Watching a ton of tv. Trying to get my head in the work game a little more enthusiastically. Grateful I can slack off from time to time. I consolidated the last of my non-student-loan debt (car, credit cards) onto one 0% offer, which I am hoping to have paid off by next December. Otherwise I just have the student loan, which I swear will be with me until I die, and all my normal bills plus my medical bills. That makes me feel good. If I can keep faking it at the job for another year, I'll at least have the rest of that crap off my back.

This last few months I've had a sensitive spot on a tooth, and I'm thinking they're going to encourage me to pull my other two wisdom teeth. I found the process for the first two to be oddly traumatic, so I've been completely avoiding it. But the sensitive spot is the spot in between the wisdom tooth and the one directly before it, so I'm afraid they're going to get me to agree. It's very sensitive and I've been using Sensodyne for months, and now it's not temperature sensitive anymore, but it's super "sweet" sensitive. I'm waiting at least until after Thanksgiving to deal with it.

Also the dieting/exercise. I cannot start something like a diet and then a couple days in have pie and mashed potatoes, so I'll wait until the Monday after the day to start all that nonsense. Sure, I'll try to walk more between then and now, but that's it. I've got a follow-up with the Thoracic surgeon on the 11th (they're doing another freaking CAT scan) so I'm hoping he'll say everything is healing up. It feels a lot better, but I sometimes feel it shift around still. It hurts a lot when I cough or sneeze, so that sucks.

I met an older guy in the work cafeteria who said "I had open heart surgery too!" and I had to explain that I just LOOK like I did, and when we chatted about recovery he told me he had his surgery in March 2005 and wasn't out of rehab until November 2005. I said "jeez I was out of the hospital in four days!" and he said "you do things differently in the north!"

I guess so!

Date: 2014-11-25 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] livingdeb.livejournal.com
Thanks for the update! Very interesting, but so glad I got to learn about these things from far away. Good luck with everything and with continued healing and fixing of things.

I loved the conversation in the cafeteria.

Date: 2014-11-25 11:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elevengirl.livejournal.com
Thanks for the update. I'm sorry this is so hard.

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