Friday, December 7, 2012

Aortic Aneursym Surgery, Catheter Ablations, and the doctors who do them!

I know a lot of you have been asking about my heart surgery that I had back in March, and many of you are wanting to hear my experiences. So we go! My doctors at the University of Kentucky Hospital were spectacular, and do things like my catheter ablation and aortic aneurysm surgery all the time, they are real pros!

Tuesday morning, March 27,  I showed up at UK hospital for my procedure bright and early, at 7am. 

I was taken back right away to a tiny little room, like an ER room. The first thing I did there was change into hospital gown, no slip hospital socks, and fancy hair net!! :) (For future use: no jewelry, no undies, so be prepared!)

The nurse was absolutely wonderful (shout out to Kelly!), and made me feel way more comfortable. We went over the procedure, and what would be done, even though we had been over it a million times before. 

My IV's were put into both arms (the procedure is long, so they wanted to make sure in case something happened to one IV, that I had a backup!), and they took some blood and sent it to the lab for some kind of tests.. I  am not really sure what they were, but I know one of them was a pregnancy test... They wanted to make sure I wasn't pregnant before they put me on the Xray table.

My dear new friend Mindy came to get me for surgery! They wheeled my little bed right out of the room  and into the Cath Lab. I knew as soon as I met Mindy that I was going to be okay. She was so funny, and sweet, she took all the edge off right away. And she promised me lots of drugs, which was why I really liked her... LOL.. 

I really can not say enough good things about the EP team at the Cardiac Cath Lab (UK Gill Heart Institute). These folks are amazing. The guys and girls were really young, really funny, and really nice. As soon as they wheeled me in, I said "I'm scared", and one guy goes "not half as scared as I am." That's when I knew it wasn't going to be too bad LOL! They had the radio up really loud in the room and it was blasting Lady Gaga. "Do you want us to turn it down?" they asked.. Umm no, I think I will be okay... 

They flopped me over onto the surgery table, and started putting all the wonderful cold pads all over my body. Apparently these are for different things, including shocking my heart back to life if I were to die, etc.. There were a total of 52 of these all over my body, and they were cold! They also tied my hands down so I didn't go all ninja on somebody. I didn't argue. It was a possibility :)

Now, after this point, someone slipped some happy juice into my IV, and things get a little fuzzy. Someone changed the radio station. I said what the hell, change it back. We talked about how many kids we all had, and how long we had been together with our significant others. Somewhere in this little getting-to-know-you session, someone snuck some catheters into my groin. What? When did this happen?!? I didn't even feel it. 

I thought it was going to hurt? The internet said it was going to burn? Cmon! My doctor (a wonderful and amazing electrophysiologist, who I quite literally, owe my life to!) arrived, and patted my head. It was time to start. Okay.. whatever.. can you turn the radio back up? Everyone was laughing at me. This was a good sign. .. 

I turned my head to watch the millions (okay, like twelve) monitors that showed all kinds of stuff about my heart. I was going to watch them do this! Oh shit, I thought, I have no idea what any of this means... "well guys, I dont want to be rude, but I really am thinking about taking a nap"... I said.. More laughter. 

"It's totally fine, take a nap", they assured me. 

"Well, this is important, and I feel like I should be paying attention...."

No one cared if I was paying attention, so I took a little nap.. 

I remember them talking all around me. I remember the doctor telling me it was going to be a tricky one. I woke up several times and tried to talk to everyone, but they would zap me with more happy juice and I would go right back to sleep!

I woke up again. I asked:
"have we been in here like, what, an hour?"

Everyone laughed.
It had been six and a half hours. Oops, time flies when you're having fun.

The doctor patted my hair(net) again. "We got it!" He said, and gave me a high five.

And I went away. Back to my little room, and then on, to the hospital of doom.

(My 24 hour stay in a regular hospital room, was enough to make me wish I had not done the surgery. Absolute worst 24 hours of my life, but that is another post.)

Laying flat for 6 more hours was the absolute worst of the whole thing. I thought I was going to go crazy. And I puked twice. IDK what it is about me and sedation, but it always does that to me.

The next morning, I talked to my doctor. This time I could remember what he was saying, since I was sans happy juice.

He said my extra pathway was in a very weird place. He had to burn my heart 33 (!!) times just to get the wire to burn once. Crazy! He said he wasn't sure he could get it at all, but he wasn't going to give up on me.

Eventually, he seared that baby, and after that he couldn't get my heart to do crazy shiz anymore, which was great. He also told me that I was very sensitive to my own adrenaline, and once my heart started, it just went crazy. As if I didn't know that LOL.

My insertion sites for my catheters (one on each side of my groin, no neck cath), look like tiny pinholes.. Maybe like someone stuck the tip of a pencil in there. That's all. I was a tiny bit sore the next day, and today (third day out) I can only feel the one on the right side (that's the one they used for all the work). Ibuprofen works just fine, in fact, it's the only medication I have had since I came out of surgery.

Best news of all? No hurting heart. No palpitations, maybe just a couple here and there and doc says that's normal as my heart's "normal" rhythm (the one it's been used to for 26 years) has been interrupted and it will have to get used to a new one. It is so weird not to hurt, and I see a direct relation between this and anxiety. I am still so anxious that it will start again, so afraid... I still can't really believe that it is gone, that fast, and that easy. I am still scared that it will come back. I know it is a possibility to regrow, but hopefully I will at least have a few years of no worries before I have to do that again.

Basically? It was no big deal. Easy Peasy. Much easier than having a baby, and much easier than having a tooth pulled. I felt no pain whatsoever during the procedure. IDK who the people are who say they felt the wires being burnt, or a tingling sensation, or anything like that. Perhaps they didn't have as much happy juice as I did LOL.

I hope that this post helps someone else who is preparing for a catheter ablation. If you have any questions for me, I will be happy to answer them!

This has been a sponsored post for NYU Cardiac, however, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.


  1. I was very interested to read your post, since I'll be having the same procedure one day. I am on three different medications to keep my heart beating correctly right now. I'm one of the lucky ones. My doctor said the meds only work for about 50% of patients, and then they only continue to work more than a year for 30% of them. I've been on them over a year and still feeling well. But, I've been told it's inevitable that I'll need cardiac ablation one day when the meds stop working. I've had many surgeries, but since this one deals with the heart it's a little more scary. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish you all the best!

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