Friday, November 30, 2007

Part 3-Follow up on one year ago this week!

I went back to the heart hospital on December 1st, for a check up, and to further discuss the procedure to happen on the 22nd.

I had my sister-in-law Moomie with me, and we had plans of getting all our Christmas shopping done in the midst of the appointment. (We did get it all done.....hooray.)

I had another Echocardiogram, and an EKG. They both showed my heart was getting stronger......but......Dr. decided he would like to give my heart more time to heal between surgery's and opted to schedule the next surgery about 6 weeks out.

I must confess, I was disappointed, which seems crazy....I wanted of course to have a strong heart for surgery, but I also just wanted to have it done....complete....finished....yet, there would have to be more waiting......and I guess it isn't all bad, not having to be in the hospital over Christmas, and all.

Sooooooo, sometime in early 2007.

I got a phone call in early January from the Dr.'s nurse, Janelle. Surgery would be scheduled for February 6th. With an appointment in January for a cat scan, and x-ray's.

Mister's parents were scheduled to come and watch the boys, and stay at our house while we went in for the February surgery. This way, they could sleep in their own beds, play with their own toys, still be in school.......well.....things don't always turn out the way we would like, now do they.

Mister's father had gotten the flu, the day before they were scheduled to come out to our house.....not the best condition for trying to keep up with my sweet monsters......

Mister made yet another quick call to his brother and sister-in-law, to see if they could drop everything again, and pick up our children, and take them back to their house. They really are the best, without hesitation, they met us half-way, and we said good-bye to our babies, to begin this new trek to the heart hospital again.

We arrived in Sioux Falls later than we had anticipated, due to the meet, and hand off.

We quickly headed out to dinner, as there would be no food for me the next day, not that I don't enjoy some nice saltines, but really......needed some protein!

The moment we sat down to dinner......

Mister says, " throat is pretty sore"

Me...."well, don't eat the chips."

Mister....."yeah, I suppose...seems like more than that though....."


Mister...."hmmm.....I am not sure....maybe..."

Me...."do we need to find a clinic?"


We quickly checked into our hotel, and asked the guy at the front desk where the nearest Urgent Care Facility was.......just a couple of miles away.

Arrive....Mister's throat is getting worse.....we sit and wait, and watch as three more patients arrive, and go to the front desk, complaining of sore throats.

Mister is finally seen........YEP, rip-roaring strep throat! AWESOME! We explained our unique situation to the Doctor, tell her I am having surgery tomorrow, far from home....etc......etc.......a tiny bit of sympathy she showed. However, she said under no circumstances should Mister step foot into the heart hospital, until he has been on the anti-biotic for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 is in 10 hours.....

We finally left the clinic around 8:00 pm.......

Mister placed another phone call to our ever reliable brother and sister-in-law.....tearfully explaining the situation. Moomie left within a half an hour, and made the 3 1/2 hour drive to Sioux Falls, so she could take me to the hospital the following morning.

We arrived at 6:00 am, and Mister waited outside the hospital, while I went in to plead my case. FORTUNATELY, they agreed to allow Mister in, as I had already been exposed, and Mister had agreed to wear a mask. Mister is somewhat of a germ-a-phob anyhow, and will put hand sanitizer on when he is in any sort of medical facility, like he owns stock in it, so I truly figured there was nothing to worry about.

Surgery......I spoke with Dr., shortly before I went in for the procedure. He had made contact with the man who invented the equipment that they were using for my procedure, and he was interested in being a part of the procedure, and had come over from Nebraska, to assist. They agreed I would be better sedated for the procedure than I was the previous time, as they knew what to expect from the previous procedure, and figured they would be able to whip this out in no time, like......4 hours.....

I came out of surgery 4 hours later, and it turns out......they could not find any arrhythmia's to fix!

Dr. said, "it doesn't happen often, but it does happen occasionally......I think with the procedure before, and the medication you have been are cured."

Me..."what do you mean? Just like that, all better?"

Dr......"yes, just like that."


Dr. "we would like to schedule a stress test tomorrow, and have you take a 30 day event monitor home, and we can go from there."

They checked me out of the hospital about 6 hours later.......

The following day, I had my stress test. Turns out, guess I am not too stressed. They said I did much better then what they would have expected from someone in my "condition" or something along those lines.

They also gave me an Event monitor, which was similar to the Holter monitor I had previously, except it had only two of those sticker things, and the recording device was much smaller. There was also a button on the recorder, which I was to push if I had any unusual episodes, and then I would "fax" the information over the phone to some company that reads the events, and makes contact with the Dr. if there is any concerns. I was to have this on for 30 days.

We left Sioux Falls, and picked up our boys. Wondering, what in the heck just happened?

As we updated everyone of the surgery results.....there was excitement for me having no further problems.

To tell you the truth.....I didn't believe it, I knew there was still something wrong. However, what do you do?

I just diligently pressed my little button when I felt "funny" or got light headed......I would fax the information in.....they would thank me.....that would be it. It was three days before I was to send the monitor back in, and be finished with my 30 days, when I passed out in the kitchen. Now, not too scary, when I pass had happened often enough before, and it literally lasts about 1 second after I hit the ground.....never hit my head, I just sort of know it is coming, and start to lower myself down......and sit......usually hard, enough for a bruise......but it had never really been scary. (I know, seems insane....) I sent the event in over the phone, and well.....they thought it was scary.

Event monitor reader person, " you need to get to the hospital immediately, I will contact your Dr., and he will call you."

Me....."why, what did it say?"

EMRP, "I cannot give that information to you."

Me....."why not, it is my body?"

EMRP, "are you going to go to the hospital, immediately?"

Me...."I can't go right this second, I need to call my husband.....I have to do something with my no....not right this second."

EMRP, "if you do not agree to go to the hospital immediately, I will be calling an ambulance to come and get you."

Me....."then yes, I am going immediately."

I called Mister......and I was, um a little shook up to say the least, and he was home in about 5 minutes. (Work is only 3 miles away, it's nice like that.)

All the while I don't even know what is really going on, or what they "saw." I try to call my Dr. over and over, as I don't even know what I am supposed to tell the folks at the hospital....."hi, some lady on the phone told me to come here, right away......I am not sure why exactly, but she said I better come, so I am here......"

That all seemed really ridiculous to me, as well as we continued to call my Dr., while taking Sass to school, and finding someone to watch Fash. We had just arrived at Sass's school when the Dr. finally contacted us back.....I know, I make it sound like it was a super long time, but seriously.....Sass's school was about 3 1/2 miles away.......

The Dr. said I didn't need to go to the was more of the Ventricular Tachycardia....and it looks like I wasn't healed like they had thought.

Through some discussion, my Dr., who is the top cardiac surgeon in South Dakota, 3rd Cardiac Hospital in the U.S. said he could not fix me, but wanted me to go to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester Minnesota. The number one heart hospital in the World. He asked if I would be willing to do that.....seriously, what else would I say.......of course.

The Mayo Clinic made contact with me, and they pushed me through to have surgery, scheduled for March 27th, three weeks from now.

They also wanted me to be a part of their research findings....interesting. I don't know that I really want to be "special" but I guess if I am going to be "special" the Mayo Clinic is where I would like to be.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Follow up year ago this week...

Bleary eyed, Mister, Sass, Fash and I walked out of the heart clinic......with two pamphlets in hand.

One pamphlet was on the Elecrophysiology study, (EP study)......the other on Catheter ablation. Oh yeah, and they told us I would likely be in the hospital for at least three days following surgery, to see how I respond to medications, and observation etc.

It is intriguing to me the sort of things that run through a person's mind during times like this.....I am embarrassed about the things I was concerned about.....seem so silly now.....but, they are the things that go through your mind.

Me-"This is just perfect.....what are we going to do about Fash's birthday.....this totally screws up your hunting plans with your family this week......we are NEVER going to be able to afford this!"

Mister, always the reasonable, sensible, loving man he is......slams on the brakes of Vinnie....and says, "SoDak! I don't really care if we go bankrupt, and live in a tent! We only work with you in our lives, with you healthy, I don't care about anything else after that!"

Me-", yeah....there is that."

Me-"I haven't even called my mom"

Mister-"You can call her tonight"


We drove around for a bit......not really knowing what we were doing. We hadn't eaten since morning, and we were sneaking up on 6 pm. I called a good friend of mine from my town, who is a cardiac rehab nurse, and gave her my sort of get a feel for what I was in for. I honestly heard her gasp on the phone.....silence.....then she evidently composed herself, and told me over and over...."this is going to be is all just going to be just fine. What are your plans for the boys?"


We ended up at a Tac0 Bell, Mister the boys and I went in and ordered, and Mister went back out to Vinnie......not sure what he was doing, but we finished nearly all our food before he came back inside.

Mister-"I called Moomie (sister in love), and she and husband are coming tomorrow morning at about 7 am, they are going to take the boys indefinitely back to their house. I also called Bruce (co-worker) and we will be staying the night with him, he is close to the hospital. I have also called my Dad, and they are going to make phone calls to the rest of my family, I have the dog taken care of, the neighbors will let her out, and I am on vacation.....indefinitely."


Mister-"After we finish here, we will go pick some more clothes up for the boys, and pack them up a bag to go to Auntie's house, we can call your family when we get to Bruce's house tonight."


We did a serious shopping spree for clothes, grunders, socks, jammies, toys, (as Auntie's kids are grown) coloring books....etc. Clothes for Mister, and chocolates for me, and all the people stepping in to assist us.

I called my family that evening at Bruce's house.....and got to bed about midnight.

6 am- check in, more x-ray's, blood work etc. Auntie and husband got to the hospital about 15 minutes before I went in for surgery, I was groggy, but so glad I got hugs before I went in, now Mister won't be waiting with the children alone.

Right before surgery began, I was told I would be awake during the procedure. They strapped me down flat, with my head completely turned to the side, and I was to remain in this position for the duration of the expected four hour surgery.

After 4 hours.....they called in the other heart surgeon for consult. The two surgeons continued to work for an additional 3 hours, after the 5th hour, they did give me enough medication....I did sleep.

They kept Mister informed of the goings ons every hour. The reason the surgery was as long as it was, seems they expected to find one arrhythmia......but found at least 7. They chose to stop the procedure, after 4 ablations, and schedule an additional surgery. They anticipated an additional 3 to 4 hours longer, to complete the ablation.

I was required to lay completely horizontal for an additional 4 hours, to prevent blood clots, and or the openings to re-open.

I was still groggy, and goofy through the remainder of the night, said goodbye to my babies, who each brought me a balloon......and off they went.

For dinner I had saltines spread with peanut butter, which Mister lovingly prepared.

Would you believe the next morning, though still hospitalized, I felt better then I think I had ever felt as far back as I could recall. I had energy oozing from me!

We were in the hospital for an additional 4 days. During that time I got flowers, balloons, phone calls.....seems everyone was well informed. Reason was, while I was out, Mister kept everyone we knew very well informed via email messages.

We met Auntie and husband, and picked up our boys, what a thrill it was to see them both.

The next day Sass ended up having strep throat, and life began rolling again right away.

A friend of mine contacted practically everyone she knew, and set up enough meals, frozen and fresh for the rest of November, and most of December.......I am indebted to her still. What an outstanding gift that was.

When we left the hospital, we understood, the next surgery to complete the ablations would be scheduled for December 22nd.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story.....coming soon.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

One year ago this week......

One year ago this week, I was recovering from what would be my first of three unexpected heart surgeries.

I know totally outrageous......

I have been asked for the low down on this story......some of you have heard it.....some of you don't want to hear it, and if that is the case.....just leave me a comment you are glad I am all better, and leave it at that.......otherwise......get is quite a story.

This is how it went down. I had been asking Mister if he was ready to have more babies for awhile, he wasn't. We had gotten into a great deal of discussions on the matter, and his reasoning nearly always came down to......"I can't explain it, but I am worried about your health, and that something would happen to you, and I would have three babies, and no you." I bucked this explanation EVERY time he used it......."That is ridiculous!" Before you think I am too harsh....I will tell you this......I have been very fortunate to have unbelievably easy pregnancy's, and relatively easy births. I have never even experienced morning sickness. I don't have any special sickness, had never been hospitalized, never broken a bone, had stitches once when I was 8.....seriously, except a few extra pounds, pretty darn healthy......I just didn't get it.

We had finally agreed, I would have my IUD removed, and get on an oral contraceptive, so when, and IF the time came to try to have another child, we wouldn't need to make the appointment. This was in May of 2006. There was a new Gynecologist in town, and I could get in to see him the following day, so I jumped at the appointment. The oral contraceptive he wanted me to be on, was one I had never used, and I am not super duper good with change.....but I decided I would roll with it. I read all the packet instructions that came with them, and was on them for June, July and August. I was having some of the symptoms which are labeled as "side effects" and figured, well.....I have only been taking it for 3 months, I should give it another couple of months.......they didn't get any better.

I called and spoke with the OBGYN's nurse, and told her the symptoms I was having, and asked to get a prescripti0n to the pill I had been on before babies.......she wasn't that easy to convince, said she would talk to the Dr. and call me back........

**(irritating, thorough new Dr.'s)**

Well, she called me back and said the Dr. said it made him "uncomfortable" to give me another prescription with these "symptoms," and asked me to see in internal medicine Dr. if he said I was fine, then he would call in a new prescripti0n.....

**(irritating, over the top-thorough NEW Dr.'s!)**

The nurse gave me an appointment with the internal medicine Dr. who was new to town also, and had an opening the next day. They did a complete blood count, and an EKG, wanted an ultra sound of my liver, and an Echo cardiogram of my heart, took x-ray's of my chest, and to put me on a Holter Monitor!

**What on Earth is going on with these crazy new Dr.'s?**

I agreed to the Holter Monitor, the x-ray's, and the liver ultra sound because my liver enzymes were "high." I declined the ultra sound of my heart, as I saw that ALL of it was unnecessary. All I wanted was a different pill for goodness sakes! By the end of the week, Halloween, I had finished with the other tests, and was "wearing" the 24 hour Holter monitor. This is a monitor, that for 24 hours records the beats of your heart. It is put on with those sticky circle things you see in movies, with the wires all over the place, and a little pocket i-pod like device which is the recorder. I figured it made for a good costume, what the heck!

I turned the monitor in the next day around noon........I got a call on my cell phone at 3:00 pm. from the internal Dr.'s nurse.

"Hi SoDak, this is Jenny......Dr. has looked over the results you turned in today."


"He would like to go over those results with you, um.....what are you doing right now?"

"Shopping the Halloween clearance, at Wa!!mart...."

"Okay, then we will see you in 15 minutes."


**what the....what?**

That just doesn't sound all that good you I dropped off my boys at Mister's office, and went to the clinic.

Dr. explained things to me, but what I remember was, "this is no good." He called a Cardiologist friend of his in Sioux Falls, explained the results to him, and he wanted to see me within a week. Then he faxed the Holter monitor results to the Cardiologist, who called back in minutes, and said I needed to be in Sioux Falls for an appointment the next day, at noon. I still didn't quite get it I guess....

Sioux Falls is three hours away, and we decided to take the boys in case we wanted to stay the night after the appointment, and do some shopping. We packed an over-night bag for the family, and took off early November 2nd.

When we got to the appointment, at the heart hospital, it was explained to us that I had what is called Ventricular Tachycardia.....which causes my heart to speed up at random times, and go from say 80 beats a minute, to 180 in the blink of an eye. Also, occasionally my heart stops beating for 2-3 seconds. I had nooooo idea. They told us they almost NEVER see this sort of thing in someone my age. They see it in young children, and it can be corrected with medication if caught soon enough......usually at a well child visit. Or very old people, and it is corrected with a pace maker. WOW......

(The thing is.....I never really had any well child mom worked at a Dr.'s office, and we would get all our immunizations for free....and just not have a "check-up." Also, I had-had a lifetime of shortness of breath, but just thought that was me, I had asked several times in my adult life about light-headedness.....and was told I was dehydrated. I had told my OB's when I was pregnant that on occasion I would get a really rapid heart beat, and I was exhausted.....they said I was growing baby, and that was normal........)

My options were, I could go on medication, for the rest of my life, or I could have surgery in about 6-8 weeks, when they could get me on the schedule.

That is a lot to immediately....definitely did not want to be medicated all my life, so we agreed we would get on the surgery schedule. The nurse got us some pamphlets on the procedure, so we could look it over. They scheduled an echo cardiogram of my heart before I left......( know the one I declined from the first Dr........yeah, that one). Then they would schedule my surgery.

I had the Echo cardiogram, which lasted a half an hour, and was recorded on VCR tape. The technician was really vague when I would ask questions, and would say the Dr. will talk with you. Just kept measuring......repeating.....I could tell she was concerned. She asked me to wait in the lobby, while the Dr. looked over the results. I told her he said I could go following the Echo cardiogram, and she asked me to wait in the lobby, that he would like to look it over.

That didn't seem good......

The nurse came out, a half hour later, and asked us to come back into the room.......Dr. came in.....

"We have you scheduled for surgery at 6 am tomorrow morning."

"What.....what.....what happened to 6-8 weeks?"

"Your heart shows it is functioning at 35%.......and that is where a heart functions, right before a heart attack, we have rearranged the schedule, and you will be the first surgery tomorrow should last 4 hours."

Oh my..........

Tune in for more soon.........really.......soon.