Friday, July 27, 2007

More about how I got here... and thanks

Doing this whole blog thing was quite a thing for me, and I've been thinking about it all week long. In my first post How I got here I mentioned most of what has happened to me with regards my heart and how it affects how I exercise. But there were some things I forgot to mention.

I'd like to thank all my friends and family for all the help and support they gave me during my convalescence. I had a wonderful core of friends, from university and before (you know who you are), who were always willing to help me out or come visit me when I needed to go for a procedure. I had friends who were at UCT Medschool at the time and would come visit me while I awaited a procedure at GSH. Thanks for understanding that I couldn't do all the things I used to do. Thanks for all the notes I copied from people more diligent than me :P

My sister was living in Cape Town some of the time and I remember waking up to her a few times... not to mention being told we were having a conversation for the second time as the anaesthetic wore off. My Uncle was also always keen to help me out when I needed it.

So what kind of things did they do to me? Besides regular INR blood tests, ECG's, Echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds) and chest Xrays? I went for two or three cardioversions, which were almost exactly like what you see on ER when they use the paddles on someone in cardiac arrest. The put a conductive gel on your chest and you get two nice circles of light burns all the way around where the paddles were, most of the energy is passed directly through the skin but some of it still manages to burn. Apparently I was awake through all of this, they gave me an amnesiac, I'm not sure if this is the right term for a drug that induces temporary amnesia. I've had some interesting discussions about whether this is humane or not...but I say if I can't remember it then it's all good. As long as the post-op pain was in the correct places.

All these cardioversions were an attempt to put my heart back in sinus rhythm. I was also put on a nasty drug temporarily which helps with getting someone with an arrhythmia get back into sinus rhythm. The possible side effects were quite nasty, ranging from your skin becoming very sensitive to scarring of the lung tissue, for those of you who are medics I'm referring to Amioderone. Although after all these procedures I did temporarily go back into sinus rhythm it was never for any length of time. and I am still not in sinus rhythm.

Another attempt at fixing this problem was an operation that I can't remember the name of, I think it was an angiogram. They made an incision in the crease between my thigh and groin and inserted a catheter into my femoral artery. This was pushed all the way up until the end was in my heart. Through all this I was wide awake! It was when the doctor started doing "pacing exercises" (I think they stimulate your heart artificially with electrical pulses from inside) that I stopped him and said I was REALLY uncomfortable... drugs :D . He then continued and cauterized some of the nerve pathways in my heart, in an attempt to fix the rhythm problem. I'm not too sure about the technicalities but this is how I understood it. But once again the procedure was unsuccessful.

So that's where I am, my cardiologist decided that my quality of life was good enough to stop the attempts and to just manage it properly from here. He told me a heart transplant was a bad idea because you trade one set of problems for another and that my heart as it is is too good to be replaced... so here I am :)

For the next post, sometime next week I will go into why I say "rediagnosed" in my header, or profile, can't remember which... more history :)

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