Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
July 4th fireworks like you've never seen them
and then....with darkness finally upon us as we talked and ate and laughed into our wine glasses, it started. The first of the fireworks. First just a smear and sparkle of lights from the northeast, then a couple of bangs from north philly, and then....there were little sparkling lights everywhere....I mean everywhere. What ensued was this surreal eruption from every corner of the cityscape that encircled Mark's rooftop deck. It was incredible. We stood there and could not believe how much firepower one city could shoot up towards the heavens on one July 4th in 2009. I think all of us marveled at just how much we Philadelphian Americans love exploding things; while we took a guilty pleasure in how freaking cool it was, even if not quite environmentally sensitive. Even Mark, who had never spent a July 4th on his rooftop since he as always down in Margate, was really delighted by the show. Northeast Philly, by the way, far outweighed it's counterparts in the amount of chinese-made firecrackers it exploded that night, if anyone is keeping score.
Then Mark unveiled his anniversary gift to me: portraits of Gryphon, Madison and Chloe that he had professionally done while I was away at Cadence Camp. Can you imagine what this man went through carting 3 dogs off to Belmont Plateau to a professional photo shoot, calming 2 of them while each one was being photographed? And I had no idea! here I am realizing just how sneaky my innocent looking boyfriend really is....
It was an incredibly thoughtful gift and it makes me happy to know my kids will be memorialized long after they are gone. And to make the evening even more special, Colin decided to pose in front of each of the portraits in mimicry of each canine. Have a look:
here he is getting even more into his role:
see all of the pictures here.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I have been really tired and grumpy lately. After I got back from the Cadence Camp, which I have been meaning to write about but have added it to my quasi-trash heap of posts I have started but have not had time to finish, I was tired, which is expected. I took the next day off, stuck at work catching up. The weekend afterwards it rained and rained, and after doing a couple of 10-minute LT intervals on Friday I took another day off, and the next day I went to the gym, because as I said, most of us cyclists were comtemplating building an Ark at this point it was just so disgusting out.
So in an attempt to make up for my lazy weekend, on Monday I went to the gym and worked out like an animal for 2 hours, moving quickly and pushing heavy weights to the point that the pacer kicked in several times. I worked legs, chest, biceps and core, then went home and rode my bike to work. It took me about an hour; I felt good. On the ride home I was feeling drained and in retrospect, most likely what happened next was a result of it being my 4th hour of training legs.
When I passed in front of the old trolley depot on Island Avenue, where about 15 sets of tracks converge and the edges are imbedded in cracked and deeply rutted cement, I jumped the light to get ahead of the cars. My wheek got caught in one of the tracks which normally I would have hopped over, and to my horror me and my commuter bike were flung sprawling across the road. I jumped up to avoid getting run over, grabbed the bike and found myself in the bizarre scenario of directing the hesitant traffic that was stalled behind me with my one free arm. Not one person stopped to see if I was OK, I might add, but then I jumped up so fast most of them probably had not seen the accident. I had to carry my bike onto the sidewalk because the brakes were knocked out of whack and neither wheel was turning. After a minute of minor adjustments I was back on the bike and heading home with some bleeding road rash and my first pair of torn-up shorts.
Anyway, I rode into work 2 more days last week, and each time it took me longer and longer to get there. By Friday, after taking a detour around the site of Monday's debacle and missing a turn which brought me into the deep 'hood with the wind whipping up from a storm brewing into quickly fading daylight, it took me 1:30 to get home. I only rode 2.5 hours this weekend in an attempt to get my legs back. Today I opted not to ride in after the gym.
I have also been a bit irritable and depressed. I am not sure if it is hormones, or the fact that I have been exhausted, or the fact that my mountain bike is again in the shop, or perhaps something more anbiguous. This past year with a broken collarbone and a bum heart I was unable to race or ride hard, and I took it in stride. I even had a pacemaker put in so I could continue to train hard and maybe even race again. I think now that I am 2 months post-op and the opportunity has presented itself to ramp up the intensity and get myself into racing shape, my body and mind are telling me...
"not so fast..... chill out."
I have a good aerobic base but no high-intensity in me right now, but that could quickly come in a matter of a few months. But my body seems to be resisting my increased training load, and to be honest I have no desire to race at this point. I am feeling a bit lost this summer, as it seems like there are so many things up in the air and I don't do well without a plan. I do know that it is counter-productive to heap guilt on myself because I am not getting pcyched to schlep back out to central PA to do the Wilderness 101.
So because I have been feeling a bit low, I have decided to spread my misery a little by sharing with you a few photos from Mark's recent surgical adventure. He was asked to test out a new medical device on a cadaver. Yes, that's right, actually the arm of a cadaver. Mark agreed, after all, this was in the interest of the advancement of medical science. He did manage to get a few photos from his iphone and today I share them with you.
someone's sawed off arm sliced open like the mango I had for dessert today, yum
I will spare you the litany of arm jokes that ensued. You know.... armageddon, the surgery cost and arm and a leg, and on and on.
I am still tired, but my depression has lifted after yesterday's gardening. I am not dwelling on too much today, just looking forward to a nice dinner for our anniversary and even some sort of well-earned chocolate dessert.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
the Holter monitor
[Uploaded 7/20/2008 8:23:36 PM]
Saturday, June 13, 2009
struggling to understand
7. 12 08
I set out to do a recovery ride but I was bitter about it because I was missing class and I "knew" that my heart was not going to give out on me during an hour class. So I did the usual main line route, and as I was slowly winding up Falls road this Sturdy Girl passed me going up the hill. I did not care, after all I was warming up and doing an easy ride but I looked up and noticed her slowing down halfway up the hill after passing me. So I slowly followed up the hill and saw her at the light at City Line. I rode about 10-15 feet behind her for 4-5 miles or so, not close enough to get her draft. Then on the winding climb of Bryn Mawr Ave I set out doing the climb and felt really good. Climbing is much easier now--so I stayed behind her nipping at her heels and she picked up the pace a little as I got closer. I watched my power climb and stay around 200 watts, 4b, and then it happened, almost at the top of the climb. I felt a fluttering in my chest and felt like I was blowing up, but it was not in my legs. She turned and went a different way and I did the rest of the ride in recovery. I was really spent after that. Ran into Max in Conshe and then the entire Sturdy Girl team rode by as well, with whats-her-name in the pack. Funny. My heart rate was only at 157 when this happened. And it was only 26 minutes into the ride, not 2.5 hours like the other times. I wish I knew what was going on.
[Uploaded 7/12/2008 10:58:50 PM]
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
commuting via bike to save the planet
Anyway, um, regarding the bike route to work, it's awesome! Half of the route I am on a bike path, meaning there is 50% less chance that I will get hit by a car. I cut through Fairmount Park near the Mann Center (this time did not get lost, see below), then I go west to 63rd street, take that south through the 'hood (don't love this part of the ride I must confess) and then I hit the Cobbs Creek Parkway and it is smooth sailing until that one crappy 4-5 block section of Island Avenue where I have to hop my bike sideways over deep rutted trolley tracks and gigantic potholes on a stretch of road with no shoulder and some ornery drivers. I might be able to figure a way around that though.
On my first attempt last week I got lost in Fairmount Park because I neglected to take into account the one-way roads when I was google- mapping it. With my tail between my legs I set down the bike and walked into this cool-looking historic building right by the Mann and sheepishly told them I was lost. This woman came out from behind the counter and went over the directions with me 6 times, even telling me the safest route through the 'hood. She lives in the 'hood I was about to ride into and I was very touched by the care she showed me. Anyway, I googled the place and it looks really cool; I would like to go to lunch there sometime. Check out a review here.
I love how bike commuting suddenly multiplies the hours in my day; as my formerly wasted commuting time in the car now becomes training time. I can come home and feed the dogs, cook dinner, relax in my garden, and feel good about the fact that I have just reduced my carbon footprint. A little. At least it's one more small step towards a sustainable world.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
-attributed to Lao-tzu (c 604-c 531 bc), founder of Taoism
Monday, June 8, 2009
Saturday June 6th, 2009
[Uploaded 6/8/2009 10:06:02 PM]
oh soooo depressing
Besides, I was short on coin and could not afford my pricey Scrub rotors.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
how my co-workers see me
the 6 week milestone at last
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
warren at the woodmere!
Monday, June 1, 2009
my little device
or some such crap. Some of you probably think the solution to that is for me to just stop writing about it. I will consider that. But in the meantime I would like to come up with a name for this little Medtronic Adapta that suits me. Anyone care to submit ideas? If your name is chosen it will land you a $20 gift certificate to Amazon, or, if I really like you, an invitation to dinner. You might want to take me up on that after I am done being gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and animal free. A
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Quantum Wellness cleanse, day 1
- sugar (all forms except Agave Nectar, which is unrefined and has a low glycemic index)
- animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs, etc.)
- gluten (wheat, barley, rye) oats are OK
Anyway, Max said that he and two of his clients were going to take the challenge of the Quantum Wellness Cleanse. Now I had not been feeling right since the surgeries. Perhaps it was being on Darvocet for a week, or not exercising much for 2, or a result of my hormones being all wacky lately...whatever, I have gained 3-4 lbs since the surgery and I am just not feeling right.
So I surmised that for me, the cleanse would not be a huge undertaking. Really, a plant-based diet of no sugar, gluten, animal products, caffeince or alcohol was not such a huge change from my normal diet....with a few exceptions. Yes I do probably eat as many or more vegetables than your average vegan, whose diet might tend to be heavier on the grains than on the green leafies. I love to eat all vegetables, especially non-starchy ones, so much that when I have dinner guests they often tell me how, um, regular they are for several days following the repast. Alcohol I basically stopped drinking because it made my heart block more often. It's a habit I have not gotten back into since I got my pacer. I eat much less meat than I used to, and enjoy cooking meals using tofu, tempeh, or beans instead. Refined sugar is practically banned from my regular diet....although...I do like to have a big mug of coffee in the morning doused with 3 heaping spoonfuls of, you guessed it, raw sugar. When I go out to breakfast on a weekend, as soon as I walk into the establishment I scan those little ceramic sugar holders on all the tables to make sure they are bursting with little brown packets. If not I ask the waitperson to bring me some; and if they return with 2 or 3 packets I sheepishly apologize for being a "sugar whore" and I tell them I need 5 more packets. Really.
Caffeine is going to be the hardest sacrifice for me, mainly because it is my only addiction, and it is a strong one. Even though I only have one mug of coffee in the morning, or in the afternoon on the weekends following a 5-hour ride, I shamelessly use it to regulate my moods. I had started taking Wellbutrin to help with life's stresses lately, but the combo of wellbutrin and caffeine is too much for my dopamine and norepinephrine receptors to handle. If I have too much coffee I have a very hard time concentrating on anything; I am so revved. Anxiety then sets in for a person who often defines her self-worth based on how many items she can cross of her to-do list. I need to work on that.
So I was looking for some excuse to experiment by cutting it out....and here was a good one. On Saturday I changed to tea before the ride, and then I went home without stopping at La Colombe for my usual double latte afterwards. I was gardening later and I felt like I had rubber for arms and legs, I mean I had NO ENERGY. Ugh, and I had had tea that morning. Sunday I did the same, a cup of tea, and yesterday, well yesterday I went cold turkey on Memorial Day. No coffee. And no barbecue for me. I am a bit irritable and have had headaches on and off...but I am pretty excited about the cleanse and all the new recipes I will be making in the next 3 weeks. The next few days are going to be tough without coffee....especially at work and before morning workouts, but I am really looking forward to being free of it. More on the Cleanse in coming days.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
pacer adjustment #4 - the field test
hopeful and fearful at the same time...and a little tired.
So after about a half hour I got back on the bike and started pedaling again. This was, after all, today's workout. I blocked at 172, and then they made another adjustment. They asked me to try one more time. At this point, my legs were tired. My heart was tired from blocking. And I was a little depressed. I cranked it up more gradually this time, instead of spiking up to 440 watts, I just brought it up gradually over 200, then up by 20 watt increments...on up to 260...I felt the flutter which they later told me were PVCs, and my PT showed a block (HR stepped down to 82) but all of them were standing around saying "that's all you! you are not blocking..." It seems one thing I learned from this test is that the PT HR monitor was reading my instrinsic ventricular beat and not picking up the paced beat. I needed to be aware of that and go by feel, or else I could be losing power not from a physiological phenomenon but because of a psychological one. In other words, I am psyching myself out in anticipating of the block.
So the good news is that they made another change, still left me in DDD mode, and were waiting on a couple of questions from the techs at Medronic. They told me there was still tweaking to do but to go out and ride and report my findings; the change they made today should make it much better.
Go forth and ride. I can handle that. It's just a process; that's all. I just have to be a patient patient. Not so easy for me.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Rode my regular main line route w/saw mill climb. It was so great to be riding outside on a beautiful day. Kept in in endurance zone but did push it a few times and I blocked. The pacemaker and my heart seem totally out of sync, it is sort of disheartening, I guess that was a pun. ugh. They reset the mode to DDD (dual paced) on thursday but I am still blocking, although this time it was different, it went from 160, to 130 and that was it (it still sucked) the second time I dropped to 143 for a full 30 seconds, then stepped down to 105. I'm not blocking 2:1. Texted Zola and he said that they just need to change some settings, not to worry. I am still bleeding heavily from LEEP and period so I got tired midway through ride. Lost a ton of blood the past 3 days.
[Uploaded 5/11/2009 10:34:16 PM]
Thursday, May 14, 2009
the beginning 7.6.08
I rode alone, but because of the impending rain opted to do the shorter, 60-mile route. This is a pretty hilly route (at least the first 30 miles) and I was pushing pretty good on the hills. The 7-lb weight loss has made a huge difference on the hills. I feel really good climbing for the first time in forever. On the way back on the bike path I passed a guy and he grabbed my wheel. I was pushing pretty good into a headwind at subLT and after 10 mins I got that weird flutter in my heart, then my heart rate drops like a stone and I feel weak. It happened several times on this ride, starting at 2:23. I have to pull back because my heart is not beating fast enough to get blood to my legs or something. This also happened on 6/28 at 2:39. I definitely like riding by myself because I can push hard when I want to and not worry about dropping anyone, but this heart thing is freaking me out.
[Uploaded 7/7/2008 11:43:49 PM]
note the red heart rate line dropping in half, and then shooting back up again.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
pacemaker adjustment #3
I got into the office and the Tracey Munson the nurse-practioner greeted me.
I showed her my power files and explained the difference between what happened today and what happened before the surgery. I explained that today it was like there was a little battle going on between my heart and the pacer. But there was no doubt in my mind that I had blocked, and that at least one time I blocked 2:1, because I had felt it. Sometimes the Power Tap HR monitor does not catch my correct heart rate all the time, but there is no mistaking that feeling in your chest, and then in your whole body, when your heart rate drops from 164 to 82 in about a second. I also complained about the pulsing I was experiencing in my diaphragm, perhaps from a stimulation of the phrenic nerve, although Zola later told me this was bullshit, it was not the nerve. Anyway.
She checked frequency and impedance and it did not appear that either lead had slipped. I was greatful for this, because my biggest fear was having to go through that surgery again. She was looking at the screen, then she stopped, looked up at me, and said, “wait! I think I know what is happening here.”
She explained that the Medtronic Adapta has a function called MVP mode to prevent the ventricle from being paced all the time. This mode prevents this RV pacing unless you really need it. (see below)
Dr. Riley came and was very grateful for the Power Tap graph because he was able to compare pre and post op graphs. It seemed as if (from the graph) that what happened today this morning in class was not 2:1 but 4:3, then 3:2, so there was some discussion about what mode they needed pacer to be in to keep me from dropping like that. He put a call into Dave Callans who is in surgery all day and they left the room.
Then Dr. Riley came back and sat down with me and explained to me that the pacer was defaulting to MVP mode because they normally do not pace both chambers of the heart at once. The reason they do not pace both chambers at once is twofold. First off, since any pacing of the heart is not the organized cascade of impulses that occurs with your intrinsic impulses from the SA node, when you are paced it can feel as if your heart is a little out of sync, and this is even more of an issue when the heart is paced from the atrium and the ventricle. Bascially, the heart is being paced from the muscle, not from the natural nerve conduction system. The second issue is that there is a slight risk of the heart actually weakening if the heart is dually paced. They are not sure why it happends in some patients. Later I spoke to Zola about this and he said it is a non-issue in an athlete.
Friday, May 8, 2009
guess it was more like "rude awakening"
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
5.6.09 the awakening
** some others
Donald Yih, MD
Steven Rothman, MD
Charles Leng, MD
many many cycling friends
and last but not least, Max Calder, who was there at the very beginning, when we were both totally in the dark
Saturday, May 2, 2009
rocky and bullwinkle
Mark named him Rocky.
The next morning I refilled his food and put him out on the porch. I thought I should let him go, so I lifted him up and put him on a planter. He ate some food, then fell asleep, right in an area frequented my cats! He was exhausted, so I picked him up and he decided to crawl inside the sleeve of my sweater:
Finally I pulled him out and decided it was not safe to leave him exposed like that.
I made a little cardboard house for him with a very soft blanket inside and a little baby-squirrel-sized door and I kept some water and peanuts next to it. Soon we discovered that Bullwinkle liked the nesting idea too:
The next thing I knew we had 4-5 tiny squirrels nesting in the box. I fed them for several days until they were strong enough to go out on their own, which they did. I still see them around sometimes, getting fatter by the week. Anyway, it was a fun distraction from other matters.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
So the progression of misery coalesced this way:
1. I decide to get the pacemaker, after having the EP study the week before
2. I was banned from bike/gym for a week so I decided to take care of that nagging little cyst mentioned above
3. once I am cleared to ride from #1 above I take a short ride and open up my stitches from step #2, ouch.
4. since I can't do anything anyway I decide to have pre-cancerous cells on my cervix lopped off with an electric wire loop, which they are doing today.
Basically since I am miserable from not exercising, trying to work, cook, clean, take care of dogs, etc in chronic pain, as well as having a deformed upper torso resulting from an elective procedure, I might as well check everything off my list that requires me to take it easy, and do it all in the same month. We will call that month April, 2009.
So I am in the waiting room and I hear my regular Gyno is late coming back from her C-section surgery. Great, now I have to sit in the waiting room, or Baby Central; aka today's Portrait of Hell. Crying babies, fat pregnant miserable-looking women, completely clueless fathers-to-be-looking like they would rather be ANYWHERE but here, a Stupid Box that spews out nothing except videos about what to do when your new baby cries at night blah blah blah. You get the picture. I have an ipod on and am glibly typing away. The nurse practically has to throw something at me to get my attention.
She calls me in and asks me if it is OK if another Dr. does the procedure. I say "no problem" since I was intending to drive to work after this. Which I did. They numbed me up nicely, even giving me a little shot of epi in the lydocaine, nice touch.
So I am there in the stirrups, propped up on two pillows so I can continue writing the poem I had been working on for the past week. Dr. B asks me who made the incision (still with little stitches sticking out) next to where she needs to "do her work". I tell her that my boyfriend did it; I asked him to slice me open since for the first time in 10 years I was off the bike, and he is a surgeon, after all. Might as well make himself useful! She asks me his name, and when I tell her, her eyes get wide and she starts laughing. "Wait--I know you....you sent that funny party invitation! My husband and I are old friends of Mark's....we were so sorry we missed your party!"
So the two of us yammered on, and the procedure was done, and I was told not to exercise for a month. You have to be kidding me. There is no way; I am testing out this pacer in the lab at Cadence this wednesday so this thing better heal right quick.
It is a small world...and it does seem that doctors all know each other. Anyway, it was fun getting the dirt on your new boyfriend at the gynocologist's office. Kind of makes the whole business of having the tip of your hoo-haa cut off a bit less draconian.
despite what you might think after having read this I do love kids, even if they lack fur
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
4.21.09 the implantation
“November 11th, 1930.” Mark and I started hysterically giggling.
I had done the entire EP test with no sedation at all I had toyed with the idea of doing that again this time. ....but after all they were making an incision in my shoulder. Dr. Mark used his surgical expertise to advise me to take as much sedation as they would legally allow.
They hooked up the IV, put all of my monitor leads and blood pressure cups on (yes, again) then proceeded to scrub my left breast and shoulder with this green cold liquid that felt great running down my back. The OR is kept very cold and I swear they store those plastic patches they use to hook you to the monitors in the refrigerator. Finally I was hooked up and Monique my nurse adjusted some blankets over me. My wool socks kept my feet nice and warm and this was good.
I squinted to look at the monitor and asked the nurse what my heart rate was since they had taken my glasses. My blood pressure was about 110 over 69 or something. My heart rate was 43. Keep in mind that I had no coffee or food this morning; if I had had a cup of coffee it would be 55 or so. I explained to them that if I fell asleep it might drop into the 30s and they should not worry, that was my normal rate. Then they took my glasses away and covered my upper torso with a surgical drape so I could not see anything anyway. Soon Dr. Callans came in and said hello and they told me they were going to add some sedation to the IV since they were "ready to rock and roll." It felt cold going into my arm. Then it felt really nice.
Then Dr. Scollan, the Fellow who works with Dr. Callans, started injecting the site of the pacemaker insertion with lidocaine, "big stick and some burning." They got it all numbed up, then they opened up the site, which was in my delto-pectoral groove my just above my left breast below my shoulder. I was awake the whole time, and could feel the pressure of the incision but not the cut. Monique, my nurse, asked me if I was OK and did I feel any pain. I said I was fine.
We were going to insert the pacer under the muscle, so this was a little more involved surgery than the typical beneath the skin type, but if I did it that usual way you would be able to see the pacer sticking up right underneath my skin since I have very little subcutaneous fat in this area. So to place it beneath the muscle they make the incision, part the pectoralis major muscles, and slide the pacer in between. Needless to say it was not so easy with my anatomy.
The first thing they do once they have you opened up is to lacerate the cephalic vein and thread the 2 leads down into my heart, one in the atrium and one in the ventricle, as in the pic above. The leads are actually about 15 inches long as it is a circuitous route. As this was happening, Monique would monitor my stats and ask me how much pain I was feeling. I was fine for the most part, I would occasionally twitch when the leads hit a part of the vein which brushed against a nerve. They had some difficulty getting the leads where they needed to go. Then the leads needed to be screwed into the pacemaker, which is pictured here
just about actual size, although mine is slightly larger since they wanted to add an extra couple of years of battery. Then the pacemaker needed to be shoved into that little space that they opened up in my delto-pectoral groove. I think is was during this prcess that they hit the nerve that goes down into the funny bone in my arm and from then on I was uncomfortable.
They had some trouble getting it into place. Perhaps they cut the incision too small in an attempt to keep my scar as unnoticeable as possible. It seemed like they were shoving the pacemaker into that hole, tugging and pushing on my flesh. I imagined them grabbing onto my pec muscle with both arms and tugging, stamping on the pacemaker with their feet in an attempt to fit it in, but then they were flushing narcotics into my veins so I was sometimes in a quasi-dreamlike state. Then Dr. Scollan sewed me up, and Dr. Callans made a joke that even Mark would approve of the beautiful job he did. The surgery had already taken longer than expected. I could feel what seemed like dull needles pierce my skin as the lidocaine was starting to wear off. They tested the pacer, I did briefly lose consciousness at this point, and came around to the sounds of strange numbers being called out by a female voice, an exchange of digits that I did not understand, as they did not correspond to heart rate or blood pressure or oxygen. Valerie, the Medtronic rep, was testing the pacer with Dr. Callans. I guess it was the frequency corresponding to voltage readings or something. A this point I was feeling more discomfort. Monique leaned down and asked me if I needed anything. I was picking up on some negative energy in the room, frustration or irritation or something. I heard the doctors speaking in hushed tones to each other.
Apparently the lead in my atrium was not reading.
This means they had to rip open the sutures and basically start over again. They should have injected more lidocaine at this point, because Mark told me later that it only lasts about an hour. Monique asked me if I needed anything for pain. I am not sure why I kept saying, “I’m OK.” I think part of it was I wanted to see if I could get through this procedure with minimal sedation, I had my camera with me and I whispered to Monique that she should take a picture while I was still all bloody and cut open. She whispered back that she did not think she could legally do that. The other reason was it had been my experience that the medicine they used to block pain receptors always make me nauseous. So I said I was fine.
They pulled out the pacer and threaded a new lead into my atrium. Then they screwed it back on the pacer and there was what seemed like a tremendous amount of pushing and pulling to get the pacer back into the pocket. They apologized to me for all of the manhandling. I mumbled cheerily that it was OK, but the combination of the pain and my squeamousness was starting to get me agitated. I believe that at this point the HN realized that they were going to be very late for the second case. I never saw her again.
Then Dr. Scollans sewed me up again, and this time I felt every needle prick. Ouch. I decided I needed to tell Monique they needed to put something in the IV for pain, although at this point the surgery was essentially over. Monique responded and announced that she was giving me x grams of Fentanyl. (yes, the same med that Madison the dog was on)
Valerie called out her numbers again, as this metal mouse-shaped piece of metal was placed over the incision, I felt an electrical current and my heart responded with a flutter, and the voltage was tested, frequencies were adjusted. I guess this time everything came out ok. I barely remember that part, because all of a sudden I was incredibly nauseous. I told them I was feeling really sick, and they looked up at the monitor and said they were going to give me something for the nausea. I found out later that I had gone vagal and my blood pressure had dropped to 60/40 or something, and my heart rate dove well into the 30s. Dr. Callans said to give me Atropine.
Which they did, and whatever else, and the nausea subsided. I was getting very strong hiccups in my diaphragm from the electrical current of the pacer stiumulating my phrenic nerve. This was really annoying. The doctors had left the OR and many of the nurses as well but Monique had to call Dr. Callans back to make another adjustment. Finally they were able to wheel me out of there….around noon.
As I was wheeled out of the OR onto the stretcher the nausea hit me again like a wave. Steve, my nurse from the EP test last week, came over and asked how I was doing. I was sweating profusely, drenched all of a sudden. I mumbled "OK", staring weakly at him. I was sure I was going to throw up. I had turned a ghostly shade of green, my pressure had dropped again and my heart rate monitor was screeching it's alarm. Someone grabbed a plastic hat-shaped thing that you would use to collect a urine sample from someone who had no aim. Suddenly there were 4 nurses hovering around me, and one of them set one of those portable defibrillator units down on the end of the stretcher. I clutched at the plastic dish, and someone injected something else into my IV to bring my pressure up as they wheeled me into recovery. The nausea subsided, I was put into a bed and hooked to everything again, and my mom was called in.
Finally at 12:30, the procedure was over. I was very sore and stiff, but happy to not be throwing up.
I did doze for few minutes, and when I opened my eyes Mark was at my side. He gave me a hug and I asked him if he was between surgeries. He was. He had talked to Dr. Callans and had gotten the scoop about the dead lead. He stayed for about 20 minutes and then had to go back to save someone’s life.
For the next several hours my mother stayed at my side, and we chatted. People would call and I was able to hand her the phone, I did not feel like talking to anyone. About an hour later a nurse wheeled a portable x-ray machine over to me to check to see if during the surgery they had punctured either my heart or my lungs. They had not. Awesome.
I was still getting strong hiccups in my diaphragm so Valerie came back a few hours later and performed some adjustments to the pacer.
Basically the unit was pacing me when it should not be:
As you could see here was I was lying in bed and being paced artificially. It is important that we adjust the pacer so it does not pace me unnecessarily; since 1. it feels weird and 2. it will prematurely wear out my battery. A battery change means more of this stuff that I went thought today; I am in no rush to repeat this drill again.
the view from Valerie's strange suitcase
So finally at 5pm they discharged me, and I was sent home with a prescription of Darvocet. I thought I would only need a couple of days of pills. ha. that's a whole other story.
Anyway, Mark made me fried skate with capers and leek and shiitake mushroom risotto, and then Colin and Michelle came over and there was more food and many laughs. I convinced Michelle to help me make chocolate chip cookies, which we did. I ate 4.
And so ended a very long and life-changing day for me. I slept well that night. I was still under the effects of the sedation (what little there was) and looking forward to mending up and being able to test this new little device of mine on the bike, cauz God knows I am not going to win any beauty contests now with this thing: