Thursday, July 19, 2007

Living In The Arterial World, or: Aorta Be A Law

The thing that surprised me the most about the operating theater was the loud, Top 40 music that was playing.

I mean, bad enough you’re shivering naked in a refrigerated room while they pile warm towels on you. You have to listen to 20-year old bombast rock?

One of the nurses reached up and turned it down just as I was considering grabbing a couple towels and bolting for the door. I suppose the music is supposed to relax the patients, but it had me looking for the nearest exit.

A young Indian woman who introduced herself as Suri explained that she would be providing the sedation during my cardiac procedure. I explained that I really didn’t like it and would appreciate just being given the minimum dose, whatever that is. “Just to take the edge off, ok,” she said. “But if you want more, I’ll give you more, all right?”

The doctor appeared and ran me through what was going to happen. They’d be threading the catheter up through a femoral artery to the heart where they’d have a look around and determine what the problem was. If things were in good shape, I’d be out of there in 15 minutes. If they weren’t, it’d take a while longer as they determined a course of action.

It all happened remarkably fast. I couldn’t tell if I felt sedated or not, which I figured meant that Suri had taken me at my word. Large pieces of machinery clicked and whirred, sometimes coming too close to my head but I resisted the urge to cry out.

Only at one point did I feel any pain in my chest and as soon as I mentioned it to them, it seemed to go away.

Then they warned me about the rush of dye that I’d feel in a moment as they took a final picture. It felt like a warm puddle exploding in my chest.

The doctor’s head appeared beside me. He explained that things looked very good, there was the matter of some plaque in the arteries but no real blockages. It was the best possible news, considering the scenarios that had been running through my head.

Then just as quickly as it had all been assembled, everything was broken down and put away as Suri showed me some of the play-by-play on a monitor. “See, that’s very good, you see how that’s open? Your heart is very strong.” I tried to look as intellectually curious as it’s possible to look when most of you is on display.

Then they wheeled my strong heart and I out to lie flat for three hours. At one point they brought me a turkey sandwich which, considering I hadn’t eaten all day, tasted like the greatest turkey sandwich ever made.

As I waited for my ride home, I could hear a woman waiting on a bench several yards away talking on her phone.

“Well, she’s just obnoxious now…she has no idea what’s going on and won’t cooperate with anyone…No, she won’t listen to me and I’ve just about had it with her...I want to smack her, I don’t care how sick she is…”

It felt good to escape from the Top 40 radio, but escaping from her was even better.


Post a Comment

<< Home