One step closer to getting the ole ticker fixed!
Today I had a heart catheterization in preparation for my open heart surgery in the future. Unfortunately we still do not have a date, due to the fact that I have to meet with the surgeon yet (which now isn’t until August 21), but after today, I feel that timeframe is a bit more manageable.
As of late, I have not felt myself. Of course when you have a severely leaking mitral valve, you’re told you need open heart surgery, symptoms are completely normal, which can alter life a bit. This past week though, it was getting to be a bit too much. I had difficulty sleeping, I could not catch my breath, was wheezing, wasn’t hungry, and was incredibly tired. I knew fatigue was a big part of this whole ordeal, but I did not expect it to escalate to where it had. I was napping almost everyday, which is highly unlike me. I called my cardiologist and she suggested I go to the ER to get monitored, but I knew I was going to have the heart cath today (I called yesterday), and thanks to the humidity dropping, I was feeling much better by Sunday night. I knew something wasn’t right though when I couldn’t finish my ham and cheese slider bun Sunday noon because I wasn’t hungry. For those of you who know me, food and I get along very well! After a drive in an air conditioned car, I was feeling MUCH better, so we did not go straight to the ER in Ann Arbor.
My heart catheterization was to determine what type of pressure my heart was putting on my lungs. Previous tests had shown that I had some pulmonary hypertension (aka difficulty breathing due to pressure being on my lungs) and they wanted to see what was causing that.
Today we found our answer!
Dan and I spent the night in Ann Arbor so that we would not have to get up at 3:30 or 3:45 to drive there, while I was on my diuretic, which would mean umpteen bathroom stops on the way! My mom was willing to take Mazy overnight and let’s be honest, Mazy loves going there anyways, so it didn’t take much convincing! I had a 7:00am appointment, with a blood draw before that. Due to the nature of my health (being that the rest of me is healthy), they chose to not sedate me, but just numb the area in my neck where they inserted the catheter. That was an experience to remember indeed, being awake while they “operate” on you! Granted this is no surgery, but to hear everything that they are doing, being fully aware while the doctor taught his fellow/resident by his side, and as they discovered what was going on. It was about a 30 minute procedure, but after they were done, I literally sat up, stepped off the operating table, and was wheeled to Dan, just to be sure I was steady. One of the most crazy and interesting experiences I’ve ever had, but telling, none the less!
Indeed, I have been retaining fluid, much to my surprise, in fact. I have been pretty good about weighing myself and taking my blood pressure (higher blood pressure and weight gain are signs of fluid retension), but I have not seen a change. Well, due to the fact that I haven’t been hungry and haven’t been eating as much, that is why I haven’t gained, but have only retained fluid in it’s place.
This all brings me back to after I had Mazy where I had retained almost 30 pounds of fluid. I remember feeling similar symptoms and I should have known, that was the issue! After explaining the symptoms to the doctor, he said well, there is a reason you have been feeling that way: you are retaining a lot of fluid around your heart, which is putting pressure on your lungs, and causing that shortness of breath, fatigue, and trouble lying down.
Not that I thought I was going crazy, but I didn’t understand why over the past week it all of a sudden effected me? Granted it has been QUITE humid here, which if you have heart issues, you know humidity and heart problems do NOT mix. So I thought I was maybe being a wimp. But no, I definitely have some issues going on, with easy solutions. Thankfully I am not to the level I was after I had Mazy, but I clearly have some issues to deal with.
I have to up my diuretic med to twice a day for 3 days and also be on a very low-sodium diet. I feel I do pretty good in that area, outside of the occasional eating out. He said I can still do that, but just to be smart and maybe not get the saltiest thing on the menu (bummer!) I admit though I could do better, so I am hoping in the next week or so, I will be feeling much better! And thanks to something as simple as the weather, it is supposed to be cooler and less humid too I believe, which will help. I told the doctor I like Hungry Howie’s pizza and he said maybe cut back on the pizza, to maybe just one slice instead of eating it for a whole meal – say wha? Thankfully we don’t eat it that often, but I was a little bummed I couldn’t have 2-3 slices! The things you learn! I also have to watch my fluid intake, but that’s old news, and is something I am monitoring already.
After the test was done, I had a chest x-ray to double check things, and then we were off! Here we thought we would be at the clinic for most of the day, but we were heading out the door at about 9:45! I am definitely sore from where they threaded the catheter down my blood vessel in my neck, but to think I literally could have walked out the operating room, was SO not how we thought the day was going to go! They previously had told me I would be sedated and would have a 2-4 hour recovery time. Needless to say, we were very happy about that and even more so, thankful that we could walk out with answers.
I could not be more thankful for how God guided the doctors to see the conclusions they did, being that the fluid is something that I can get rid of, and hopefully feel better up until the surgery. If I had to live like I did last week, for the next couple of weeks/months until surgery, I knew I couldn’t. So to have something tangible that I can do to fix the problem and feel better until that surgery day, oh I couldn’t have been happier!
Thank you all for the prayers, for your care, and walking this journey with us!
P.S. Probably the funniest moment of the day was when the doctor asked what our daughter’s name was and I said “Mazy.” Of course them being die-hard U of M be people, they thought we named her in reference to the University of Michigan’s maize and blue. I told her actually it was a play off of Amazing Grace, though we had not thought of that until someone had mentioned it to us! Well, they still think we landed in the right place :).