Saturday, May 22, 2010

Heart Ache

Okay so here's the scoop, a year ago I was having my yearly physical and my doctor said she heard a heart murmur and sent me to go have an ultrasound on my heart. I had to wait until july last year to have this done and the results came back that everything was fine. Then in November I fell ill with Pneumonia and the doctor at the hospital heard the same thing and sent me for another ultrasound on my heart along with another ECG, this time the results came back that there was something there. I had to be referred to a cardiologist in january, who sent me to have an MRI in febuary. Then in March he told me I had a "coartation of the Aorta" which means that my Aorta is narrowed in a spot, which causes my blood pressure to be much higher in my upper body than lower body. It's congenital which means I was born with it, and it's odd that they only found it now, but also a good thing they found it. It's not inherited from anyone and is a mutation, yeah just what we all thought....I'm a mutant. Haha, this is what it looks like:The narrowing goes from 18mm, to 8mm at the narrowing then back up t0 19mm. It's symptoms include: headache, cold feet, high blood pressure, cramps in leg muscles, inability to excercise for long periods of time. Funny thing is I barely had any symptoms other than the first three, I have played soccer for 8 years and work out 3-4 times a week as well. This amazed the doctors, but they told me they had to do somthing to fix it or else it could cause serious health problems, and basically before i was 40 would I would have a stroke, heart attack etc. Not fun, so on April 23rd I met with a surgeon at the University hospital and he said they would be performing a "stent" which is seen in the first picture, they snake a balloon up through your femoral artery up to your heart which expands your aorta and then put the mesh cage in place which keeps the muscle expanded. It's a very simple procedure performed very often, and results in only a week recovery time, so we booked it for May 18th, they wanted to get everything done as quickly as possible. So this past tuesday I went to the UofA hospital with my parents a little tired, scared and nervous but with the hopes that it would be "a piece of cake". Unfortunatly there are things that can go wrong with the procedure although they don't happen very often, but, they happened to me.
I woke up after my surgery at around 1:30pm, with them explaining to me that in trying to get the catheter in my iliac artery and up to my heart they had torn the artery and needed to send me to a different hospital where they had a very good Vascular surgeon to operate on and repair this artery. I was confused, partly from the anesthetic and partly from fear. So we waited for the ambulance that took us from one hospital to the next, and there we waited for the word from the next surgeon. I was in a lot of pain with a pressure bag pumping into my iliac artery to keep me from bleeding out. When we met the surgeon he told us what had to be done. They were going to have to make an incision across my abdomen and one horizontal by my groin so they could get in and replace my Iliac artery with a piece of plastic, gortex to be exact (yeah the stuff they make raincoats out of). The recovery for this one would be about 5-6 weeks, I was obviously upset, but my mom, dad, brother and boyfriend were all there holding my hand and telling me I'd be okay. So around 730pm I was rolled into the operating room, knocked out with the anesthetic and 3 and half hours later I awoke in the recovery room in a lot of pain. All I wanted was to see my family, but I had to wait for an hour to make sure I was okay. Thankfully the doctor said this operation went very well and they fixed my artery. Around 12:30am I was wheeled back to my room and greated by my worried but loving family and boyfriend. I spent the next three days in the hospital, in a haze of morphine, pain and nausea. On the 19th I got my own private room and had about 8 or 9 visitors, my friends, family and man were wonderful and made me feel very loved. My parents and younger brother and boyfriend were there everyday, and my mom slept over on the 20th because they took my catheter out and I needed help in the night getting in and out of bed. My older brother from Vancouver called me several times and was texting me constantly to check up and make sure everything was going well too.
They also took my bandage off on the 20th and I was greeted with a scar about 7inches long across my right side, from my belly button to side. It's healing quite nicely and has sutures so I'll be left with a very clean nice looking scar. I'm not too concerned about having a big scar, even though I've been working my ass off on my abs, it's going to be kind of badass, and I'm probably going to make up silly stories about it. "Yeah I was in mexico and someone tried to steal my liver" haha that was a good one. I also have a smaller scar vertical about 3 1/2 inches long along my groin, poor vagina. I got to go home friday the 21st around 2pm, and was relived to go.
Here's where my Iliac artery is:

Im sleeping in my younger brothers room because it's upstairs and my rooms in the basement, I can't really "do stairs" yet. It's going to be a long recovery but hopefully everything will heal nicely, and 4-6 weeks from now I will be up and back to my normal life. Anyways, I'm bruised from all the IV's and needles and sore from my scars, so hopefully I'll be able to post later on. I may even put up a picture of my scar, so I can see how much progress it's making weeks from now. Hope everyone is having a MUCH better week!!
-Jenna D

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