Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Liberation Day

It's 8:15 am and I am trying to calm the butterflies that threaten to overtake my stomache.  My procedure was scheduled for 8:00 am and I really need to pee, but I'm afraid that the nurse will call me while I'm in the toilette, so I try not to think about my bladder OR the butterflies.

Aside from having my wisdom teeth removed (which required a hospital visit) I have never been on the receiving end of surgery, so had no idea what to expect.  I had read that Dr. Vogl didn't use anesthetic..."but that's a little  masochistic, isn't it?" I ask Brad, who tries to calm me down by saying that the scalpel he probably uses is so sharp I would hardly even feel it and besides...the incision is probably just a cm or two long. "So it probably feels like getting a paper cut???" I ask. "Yeah...a paper cut".  Yeah...right!?  I'm thinking he's just trying to keep me from freaking out, but I don't have time to ponder the paper cut theory as the nurse is calling for "Frau Braun"...wait...that's me!!!  I get up and go to the nurse who leads me to the angioplasty change room...Brad has to wait in the waiting room.  Amazingly I am not anxious about the procedure...just worried that the nurse will come back and I will be buck naked, having taken too long to change into the dressing gown she's given me.  I shouldn't have worried, as my modesty was about to be put to the test!!

As I try to keep the back end of the gown from flapping loosely about, which would expose my very naked backside, I am escorted to a very narrow operating table, which I get up on, trying hard not to expose myself.  (Little did I know that this was a pointless effort on my part).  So I am prepped by a doctor from Libya who inserts an IV...ouch!, and by a nurse who preps my groin area...so much for the modesty!

Dr. Vogl comes in (it is now 8:45am), asks me how I am doing and begins.  No anesthetic people!! The actual incision wasn't bad...to start... but he presses against the vein and THAT is extremely uncomfortable...I don't want to say painful...but it's close.  The uncomfortable feeling in my groin area subsides and I try not to focus on what the Dr. is doing.  (I should mention there are three other doctors in the room, monitoring the machines and assisting Dr. Vogl) "Breathe, focus, think of horses" I command myself"  Horses aren't working, so I switch to picturing Julie Andrews in the alpine meadow singing the "Sound of Music".  Hey, it's one of my favourite musicals and...it works!

I know I should be looking at the monitors...you can watch as they fish the catheter through the veins to their destination...but that would probably accelerate my breathing and I'm trying to stay calm!  Dr. Vogl does my left side first.  How do I know that,  if I'm not looking at the monitor?...I hear a loud pop near my left ear...it's kind of like when you have water in your ear and then it quickly drains out, but 50x louder.  He ask me to hold my breath.........still holding.......can I breathe now??? Didn't bother to tell me to resume breathing which I do, of course.

I feel the catheter, as a pressure, in my chest.  And then he tells me to hold my breath again, and I feel a tremendous POP! accompanied by a very sharp pain that radiates from the base of the skull, all the way to the front of my skull, just above my right eye.  Holy Hannah, do I have one heck of a headache!!  Dr. Vogl must have sensed my discomfort, because he asks if I have pain?...Uh huh!

I should mention that after every pop, the other Drs. are calling out numbers (I'm thinking they have something to do with the blood flow).  Anyway, a second pop and then I feel as if the catheter is being withdrawn.  Dr. Vogl informs me that it is done and everything looks good!  I thank him and look at the clock...9:15am.  Just 30 minutes!

After being transferred to a hospital bed I am wheeled out of the Interventional Radiology ward to the Day Ward.  Brad comes upon me with a very concerned look on his face. (he later tells me that when he saw me in the hospital bed, he thought something went wrong, as he was expecting me to walk out of the ward) I proceed into the bowels of the hospital...really, all I see are water and electrical lines as I am being moved to god knows where!?

I end up in a totally different building.  Geez, I hope Brad can find me?! The nurses were very nice, informing me that I would be staying here until 12:15, and offering water, tea, biscuits or a sandwich.  I opt for water and tea and patiently wait for Brad to show up.  While I was waiting I was evaluating how I feel.  I don't feel any different...no sudden improvement in numbness or clarity...darn! I was kinda hoping I would feel something different...oh, well that wasn;t very realistic. 

It's been about an hour and Brad still hasn't shown up...I'm sure his lack of German isn't helping.  In the meantime another woman is being rolled into the room...I recognize (what I am guessing is) her husband from the waiting room this morning.  I was curious if she was here for CCSVI as they spoke English and she was in a wheelchair.   He asks me if I got the angioplasty and I say "yes".  Turns out they are from Vancouver Island!!  Best wishes for a successful procedure Diane!!  Hard to believe I travelled to German to meet someone from VI.

Brad finally shows up...there was a bit of a miscommunication. :)  He asks how I am feeling.  It's a loaded question, but I am honest and say good, but the same... because I really don't feel any different except that I think my right hand is a little less stiffer...but maybe I'm just imagining things?

At 12:15 the IV comes out and I can get dressed.  I am transported by wheelchair this time, again through the bowels of the hospital...at least I can see where I went...back to the IR ward where I await an MRI followup.   Brad notices I am still wiggling my right hand, grabs it and notices that it is very warm??  He grabs the left hand...warm as well.  Well, that's a change...my hands are usually cold!?

Over an hour later, and I am finally called in for the MRI...I can keep my clothes on this time because it will only take 5 minutes.  And then we wait in Dr. Vogl's office for at least another hour!  I'm getting tired...tired of waiting!  Eventually I get to see Dr. Vogl for a final consultation where he shows me the newly ballooned veins, tells me I need to take baby aspirin once a day for the next year, and then hands me a weekly log that he would like me to fill out (its part of his study).  He wishes me well and then sends me on my way.

I have been liberated!

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