Ready to film The sequel: Melanie Returns to the Hospital for a New Heart Device. Can I get a better wardrobe this time?
As my sister and I got ready to go to the hospital for the “device upgrade”, I felt like I had already been to this movie before. Maybe we were just filming a sequel? Could I ask for better wardrobe options at the hospital this time? Those gowns just do not bring out the best side of anyone!!!!
No cab was needed to take us to the hospital for the device upgrade. My sister had taken a cab to my apartment during after the pacemaker procedure was done in 2013. She had paid attention to the route and she drove my car back to hospital the honext day to pick me up. So when it came time for this second hospital visit in 2014, she was very comfortable driving me to the hospital, which fortunately has valet parking. What this meant for the worrier in me was that unlike the procedure to implant the pacemaker, I would not have to be concerned about whether the cab would show up on time to take me to the hospital.
Traffic was not bad at all and we made it to the hospital in good time. My sister dropped me at the entrance to the hospital so I could start the admissions process while she took the car over to valet parking. The procedure as I recall was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Of course, I had to fast from midnight on, but it did not bother me that my stomach was growling. I had another pressing need in my body that needed to be resolved.
We sat in the waiting area watching television for quite a long time. In fact, the time came and went for the upgrade procedure to begin and I was still in the waiting area. Finally, the nurse who seemed to be coordinating the waiting area came out to talk to my sister and me. She said that the procedure that was scheduled immediately before me had some complications, and this was what was delaying my procedure. Although patience still was not a virtue that I had developed a lot of, I was not bothered by the delay. I would rather know that they were taking good care of each patient and not looking at a time clock and rushing each person through.
Eventually, the nurse came to take me back to the area where I would prepare for the surgery. My request to upgrade the star’s wardrobe was not honored. They gave me the standard issue hospital gown. You know the type I am talking about – it fits no human being comfortably and it doesn’t close properly despite having miles of fabric. But then again, I was going to be out like a light while a team of very competent people performs a procedure that was going to improve my heart options. So I guess we ought to be funding their work as opposed to giving me a more attractive outfit to wear.
Once I was changed into the hospital gown, some nurses came by to take my vital signs and to start some IV units. They also gave me some sedative (maybe Valium) to in advance of getting anesthesia for the procedure. At this point, I realized that my sister had not eaten much during the morning and it was already afternoon. I had to fast, but why should she suffer? So I encouraged her to go to the cafeteria to get something to eat. She was hesitant to leave me, but since it didn’t look like much was going to happen for a while, she decided it might be a good time to leave me for a bit.
While I was by myself, the electrophysiologist stopped by to see me. I thought this was a good sign, as this meant that the previous procedure he was involved in must be over. Indeed, he was finished with the patient whose procedure was before mine. But it was not all good news. He came by to let me know that while we would be starting my procedure shortly, he had to make me aware of something.
I apologize for what I am about to write in this blog because I am sure that this description of what he said is very simplistic and not medically correct. But I am not a doctor, and I was also under the influence of a sedative at the time. So the doctor basically told me that because I already had a pacemaker inside me, it was possible that this device had been absorbed into my body. This would mean that the procedure would not involve simply lifting out one device and inserting another.
The doctor told me that before they could do any work on changing out the device, they would have to do a test with dye to see if the pacemaker had indeed been absorbed into my body. If this was the case, they would have to cancel the procedure for that afternoon. They would then have to reschedule a procedure whereby my pacemaker would be “lased” out of my body. Unfortunately, that type of procedure could not be performed at the hospital I was currently in. Instead, I would have to go to another hospital on another day for a procedure that obviously would require a bit more work.
It was probably fortunate that I was falling under the influence of the sedative at the time the doctor was talking with me. Because even though I was a bit shocked, I was starting to become mellow and I was not vocally upset. Who knows? I may have smiled and said something like "sounds good to me." But I know that I have expressive eyes and I doubt that the sedative toned them down. I know my face can be very expressive, and I am sure eyes must have grown the size of the recent “super moon” when he said they might have to “lase” the device out.
Two thoughts immediately popped into my head. The first thought was "Why me Lord, I just wanted a simple upgrade". When I heard the word "lase", my mind conjured up a series of science fiction images, like something out of Star Wars. I know that lasers are used all the time in medical procedures. Lasik eye surgery involves lasers, so why couldn't a laser be used to take out an embedded pacemaker? But what if the laser got too close and hit my heart?
The second thought that went through my mind was how in the world was I going to explain this to my sister when she returned from the cafeteria. When she did come back, I was able to give her a very basic explanation of what might happen. Fortunately, she was able to speak to the doctor before the procedure began to get a more accurate description of what he was going to do. It was nice to have her with me in the time before they wheeled me into the procedure room, because it helped alleviate some of my worry about what might or might not happen. I feel for those who do not have family, or are not close to their family. In times like these, it really helps to have someone who has known you for your entire life and who can help talk you off the ledge emotionally speaking.
They wheeled me into the procedure room and the anesthesiologist started putting in the drugs that would knock me out for the procedure. As I was going under, I could hear a lot of chatter going on as the team got ready to do the process with the dye that would determine whether they could continue with the procedure to upgrade the device. So I went under not worrying about what type of hospital gown I was wearing on the outside. I went under wandering if I would be wearing a different device on the inside when I came out from under the influence of the anesthetia.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. Since that time, she has been learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth.