Elephant in the Room

There actually isn't an elephant in the room, either literally or metaphorically, but it certainly feels like there is one sitting on my chest! Chest elephants, unfortunately, lead to ER visits. I had been recovering quite nicely at home with the help of my mom and sister. However, I think I got a bit too eager to recover and pushed myself too hard the last few days. On Sunday I went for my first "exercise" walk, which was much tamer than I'm used to, being a runner and all, but would still be considered exercise. I felt okay for the first 10 minutes but then I started feeling pressure in my chest and got really fatigued. I was determined to go back to work on Monday and thought it would…
Read More

Surgery Day

Surgery Day finally arrived! My day started at 5am with pre-surgerical instructions to drink a cup of juice at this early (dreadful) hour. ;) Then I went for a little walk, got ready, and headed to New Westminster with my mom. I got a phone call shortly afterward that they could take me in earlier than my 12pm appointment because the patient ahead of me was stuck in traffic, so I rushed over to the hospital and got myself registered. I still had to wait awhile, as the other patient actually did arrive in time, but it was no problem. I ended up finding the lovely sanctuary in the Cardiology Ward. They took me in for my pre-op, started my IV, gave me blood thinners, and asked me a ton of…
Read More

Pre-Admission Clinic Visit

I had my pre-admission clinic visit yesterday, which I like to refer to as a hospital scavenger hunt. I arrived at the clinic at 9am and was sent off into the depths of the hospital with a map, a pencil, instructions to visit the lab and cardiology department, and told to report back to the clinic at 10:15, hence the feeling of a scavenger hunt. The lab was busy so that it took me the full hour to get my blood work done. I came back to the clinic and met with a nice nurse who asked me a ton of questions, looked at all my meds and supplements, and took my vitals, height, and weight. Then I went off to cardiology to get my ECG. (Sinus bradycardia but otherwise…
Read More

Sign Me Up!

So I'm getting the device! No open heart surgery for me, assuming all goes as planned. :) I met cardiologist #2 today- the interventional cardiologist, who seemed really great. He answered my long list of questions, from my worries of a nickel allergy, to making sure I could still run a half-marathon with the device. He gave me all the necessary information, and gave me a quick checkup, before asking if I wanted to proceed with this option. I said "Sign me up!" It definitely beats having to be put on bypass and then spend two months recovering from a major surgery! My recovery time should be quick. My surgery date is June 12th. I'll have the pre-labs/ECG requisition mailed to me a couple of weeks before surgery, and then…
Read More

TEE Time!

I survived another procedure- I had a TEE (transesophogeal echocardiogram) on Friday! However, I had to wait until today to write about my experience, until all the drugs wore off. Note my extremely glazed eyes in the photo on the right! For anyone undergoing the same procedure, please don't worry! It's not nearly as scary as it sounds. It really wasn't a bad experience at all. I registered at Royal Columbian Hospital in the morning on Friday, and since I was quite early for my appointment, I spent about an hour lying in the echo room in 2N (Cardiology ward), while the nurses did a safety check of the room. Then they prepped me for the procedure, explaining what would happen- that I wouldn't remember the procedure because of the…
Read More

TEE Anyone?

I met Dr. L, my cardiac surgeon, yesterday. As stressed as I was for this appointment, he put me at ease, as he's very nice and laid back- not intimidating at all. If he does end up doing my surgery, I'll feel very confident in his hands. He actually may not be doing my surgery, as he said that the transcatheter closure may still be an option, and an interventional cardiologist does that procedure.  He wants to perform one more test before jumping into surgery to see if I'm a candidate for the device. I need to have a transesophageal echocardiogram or a TEE, as it's known. Basically it's another echocardiogram but with this exam they put the a scope down your esophagus so they can get better pictures of…
Read More

Heart Needs Fixing

I finally saw my cardiologist and received my MRI results. I think the stress of it all just hit me the morning I saw Dr. D. I live in denial with what's going on for the most part. I feel "normal," so I can't quite believe that I have a serious heart problem. But as soon as I saw Dr. D. and he started talking about surgery, it all became too real. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and I completely panicked in his office- felt faint, nauseous, and dizzy. Not fun. He told me that I definitely have an Atrial Septal Defect. The right side of my heart is strained and dilated, so that would explain why I've been having chest pain when I exercise. My inferior…
Read More

I Survived an MRI!

 I did it! I survived an MRI. I didn't even take the Ativan that Dr. D. had prescribed me when I told him how claustrophobic I am. I feel like I can do anything right now! I was beyond afraid to have this test, and last night I could not sleep at all. It's not so much claustrophobia as it is being stuck in a place where I can't escape. I guess that's more so agoraphobia. I was so afraid that I'd have a full blown panic attack. But I didn't! Months of meditation have surely paid off. My appointment was early so I stayed downtown to avoid rush hour traffic. I headed over to St. Paul's Hospital at about 6:30 am and waited for the Radiology department to open,…
Read More

Echo Report

I requested a copy of my echo report right when I was at the hospital, so it already arrived- that was fast! However, I found it concerning. I mean, I'm extremely grateful that this defect was found. It was a complete fluke that it was discovered and I'm so happy that it was before it did real, serious, irreparable damage, but that doesn't mean I can't be concerned. The report sounds more serious than Dr. D. made it sound. Maybe he just didn't want me to freak out for two months while waiting for my MRI, and I guess he doesn't have all the info yet; he wants the MRI to confirm the diagnosis. Anyway, the report says that my right atrium and right ventricle are dilated, which I know is…
Read More

A Hole, Eh?

I spent the entire weekend in panic mode, non-stop Googling and diagnosing myself with various diseases. I found out that an "urgent" referral means "significant potential for early intervention to save life/prevent hospitalization or functional impairment," so that scared me, needless to say. What helped me get through this weekend was my mindfulness practice. In addition to my regular meditation, I kept telling myself that "Right now I am okay." At this very moment in time I feel fine. Nothing has changed since before my echo a week ago, ergo, I am okay and should stop worrying. It really did help. I met my cardiologist, Dr. D, this morning. I was super anxious so I walked up and down the street near his office, pacing, trying to burn off my…
Read More