Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Heart Has Been Broken and Put Back Together Again. Part 2

Saturday morning came all too quickly and not quickly enough at the same time. I was eager to see my family again, but I was dreading this surgery. I'm used to being the one in the waiting room cracking jokes so that no one gets too serious. I'm not used to having everyone in the waiting room for me, nor was I ever accustomed to having surgery.

My daytime CCU nurse came in to greet me, and to my amazement, she was even better than my night time nurse (which I had already decided was impossible). She tells me that she is a mother of 3. During her last pregnancy, when she was feeling sad, she would take a piece of equipment made to find the pulse in cardiac patients with a lot of swelling into the break room and find her little boys heartbeat. She asked if that would help. I eagerly said yes, and she whisked away and immediately began to search for me. She warned me that it was very unlikely she would find it because her doppler was not made for fetal heartbeats and not to get worried if she couldn't find it. I promised.
Within just a few minutes, she found Baby Cannoli's heartbeat, and let the doppler linger on it for a few minutes. I cried, my whole family cried, and I had a small sense of relief that Baby Cannoli was so far surviving the trauma. The CCU nurse promised to find it for me as soon as she could after my surgery as well. I immediately decided that she was the best nurse God could have given me.

I was amazed with the hospital in Nashville. They told me my surgery was at 8, which I assumed would mean we would start about 9. At 10 minutes to 8, three surgical nurses, along with the cardiologist I saw the night before, came in to get me. I burst into tears and couldn't stop. The nurses immediately began to try to comfort me, and wheeled me away. I cried all the way down the hallway, all the way into the OR, and all the way onto the table. One nurse finally bent over and gave me an enormous hug and attempted to reassure me that everything would be ok. Naturally, I didn't believe her.

The cardiologist doing the procedure came in, and also attempted to reassure me. He told me that I would be awake during the procedure, but they would give me something to "take off the edge." He told me that they normally use two sedation drugs, but couldn't in my case due to my pregnancy. The nurse asked him how much to give me 25mg or 50mg. He looks at me and asks if I drink a lot. In my emotional state, I respond with "Drink what?" He laughs and says "alcohol." I said, "Oh, well I drink socially, but I can tolerate a lot of alcohol." He immediately tells the nurse to give me 50 mg.

Within 5 minutes, I'm still crying uncontrollably, and the cardiologist asks if I'm relaxed yet. Obviously not. He tells the nurse to give me 50mg more. I ask him if this much of one drug would hurt the baby. He looked at me very solemnly and tells me that he must do what is necessary to do this procedure because at this stage in pregnancy, my life is the baby's life. My "swimming" heart began to drown, I just knew this was the end of Baby Cannoli. I began to cry even more.

A total of 200mg later, I was calm enough to do the procedure, but not enough to try to sleep. I turned my head and closed my eyes, I couldn't stand the thought of seeing this happen. I felt everything, I heard everything, and I didn't like it one bit. It hurt. Plain and simple, it hurt. The nurse that hugged me could hear me grunting in pain, so she took a seat by my head and began to rub my hair, just like my own mother would. The other nurse took my hand and squeezed it. They both stayed in those positions the remainder of the 20 minute procedure. Those 20 minutes felt like hours. Running the catheter into my sternum was incredibly painful, as well as feeling the pressure of the fluid draining off my heart.

My doctor was so nice to me, and began to try to talk to me about other things to keep my mind off the pain. We talked about meeting my husband, college, restaurants, etc. It helped for a little while, and I really appreciated his efforts to help me through such a trying time for me.

I was finally done, had a tube stitched to my chest, and 1 liter of fluid drained off my heart. The doctor told me that it went beautifully, and he had no reason to believe that any serious reason was causing this problem. Shortly after, I was taken back up to my room, where my daytime nurse was waiting.

I cried some more, thanked my surgical nurses for stepping in as Moms. By the time I was in my room, I knew I was going to get sick. They began to run around trying to find something for me to vomit in, and one brings me what looks like a dust pan. Um. Seriously? They finally find something suitable for me, and I was given some nausea medicine. Again, surgical Moms stepped in, brought me a cold rag for me head and rubbed my hair for a few minutes after a very painful vomit episode.

Within a few minutes, my daytime nurse asks me if I want my family in before we find the fetal heartbeat. I say yes, and BEG to have my catheter (the OTHER catheter, ugh) out. She tells me that she can definitely take it out, but I have to promise to use the restroom on my own within 6 hours. I would have promised to attend the circus that night if it meant getting that thing out. She took it out, and I immediately had more relief than I had since this whole experience started.

Shortly after, my family came in, and the nurse pulled out her trusty "nondoppler." Within seconds, Baby Cannoli let me know that she/he was still going strong. I cried. Imagine that. My nurse even began to count the beats, and estimated about 154. She told me she was going to guess boy, as all of her boys were over 150s. I was relieved to hear that sweet sound.

I was apparently supposed to be so drugged that I would sleep all day. That definitely didn't happen. I was wide awake. Jason, my dad, and my sister left so they could get home for a while. Dad and Jason were going to get some belongings to return immediately, and my sister had sweet Riley that desperately missed her Mommy. My grandparents showed up, and visited for quite a while. A dear friend of mine showed up to visit, even though her husband is also in poor condition after a car accident. My uncle and cousin arrived. I had a lot of visitors. I finally napped for about 20 minutes or so.

A nurse came in to do another ECHO, and told me that everything looked beautiful. She told me she had no reason to believe that this fluid would come back.

A high-risk OB from the same practice that saw me to get this ball rolling came in to see me. He reassured me that everything with Baby Cannoli was fine, and there was no drug that I have ever heard of that I could be given/take as prescribed that would harm the baby. He told me that he really felt that this was brought on by I virus that I likely had this summer, and the inflammation began then. He mentioned that the pregnancy could have made the problem worse over these past few weeks, but that the cardiologist would know more about that than he did. After a wonderful conversation, I will NOT be considered a "heart patient." I should heal from this completely, and be able to deliver baby Cannoli in Kentucky without a mass of cardiologists present. He also told me that a C-Section would not be required because of this. More tears of joy. I cried a lot this weekend.

The cardiologist that came to see me the night before came by to check on me, and answer questions from my family. He also reassured us that things went beautifully, and that he felt that I was doing wonderfully considering the severity of the problem. He was the nicest cardiologist I had, and was very eager to make sure I was as reassured and comforted as possible.

Jason and my Dad returned, and some other friends of mine from Kentucky came to visit. It was really nice to have so many visitors, but I was getting tired and starting to hurt. I was afraid to take pain medicine due to my career in mental health and knowledge of crazy addictions. I opted for Tylen0l. That didn't work. Shortly before bed, I finally agreed to a very low dose of pain medicine, and was able to sleep. I slept well on Saturday night, but woke up in pain. I attempted to grin and bear it for about an hour, and I finally had to call and ask for more medicine. The pressure was aching, which created a very unique and painful throb. I slept for a few more hours, ready for what Sunday would bring. At this point, we were ready to get my tube out, and pray that the fluid did not come back.


Katie F said...

So happy you and your little one are doing well! I will pray that you both continue to be healthy and that the fluid does not come back!

Brittney said...

I'm teary-eyed just reading this! I'm so thankful you're okay and that Vandy was such a pleasant experience for you! Well, as pleasant as it could be when you're in a terrifying and painful situation.

Jess said...

This has me tearing up! I'm so glad you are safe and were in good hands.