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 drugs etc., and then physically prepping me by starting me on oxygen, putting on a blood pressure cuff, and starting an IV for fluid and medication, when it was time for that. Then the Cardiologist and Echo Technician (not sure what her official title is) came in and further prepped me, explaining again what would happen,  and the fun began!

First, the Cardiologist sprayed this numbing spraying in my throat that would suppress my gag reflex. This was the only part of the procedure that was uncomfortable. Not only did it taste bitter, but the sensation of having my throat numb was somewhat scary. It feels like when your face is numb and feels “fat” from freezing at the dentist, but your whole throat feel fat, like it’s swollen. It’s hard to swallow with a “fat” throat. The feeling doesn’t last long though because then the nurse gives the first drug- Midazolam (Versed.) Then there was no discomfort at all! The Cardiologist then put in a teeth guard/headgear type device and pushed the probe down my throat. I still remember this but it wasn’t bad because my throat was numb so I barely felt it. I started watching the screen as soon as the pictures of my heart showed up, which was fascinating, even in my drugged stupor. The nurses noticed that I was still awake- apparently most people sleep through the procedure, or are at least drugged enough that they don’t open their eyes- so they brought out the “big guns” and gave me Fentanyl, as well. I remember feeling really drugged, but I still watched the screen and following what was going on. I had a Bubble Study, as well, which I clearly recall, well not “clearly,” but I do recall.

Shortly after, the probe was withdrawn, which felt a bit “icky” but not horrible, then I dozed off for a short while. The nurse woke me and asked me some questions, saying how funny it was that I watched the whole test. She said that I most likely wouldn’t even remember this conversation, but I totally do! Soon, she tested my swallowing ability by giving me ice chips, then water. Then I walked up and down the hall, and was fine with that, so I was discharged.

I slept on and off for the rest of the day, went to sleep early, and made sure to take the bus to work the next day because I was still a rather dopey. But now, two days later, I’m back to normal. My throat feels a bit “off”- not like a sore throat but a bit irritated, but other than that I’m fine. So, if you’re scheduled for a TEE, no need to worry!

The results have been sent to my Cardiac Surgeon and he will decide if it will be a catheter device closure, or open heart surgery. I shall wait patiently.