Friday, November 03, 2006

the cath is clear or: on a clear cath I can see forever.

Everything turned out fine.

The cath is clear: the doc just increased the dosage on one of my meds by another 25 mg. It all went pretty much like I'd predicted: the volunteers had a little squabble over who'd given out which beeper during registration, another volunteer walked us to the cath lab, they made my husband wait somewhere else for a half hour or so while I changed clothes and got into the gown and put on the (teal) hospital socks.

The cath nurses had trouble with the IV. "Do you have any veins for me?" is how the one nurse put it. I extended my arms dutifully and then both nurses examined them with a critical eye, alternating between smacking my hand sharply and then stroking it kindly, as a cat. Neither method induced an air of cooperation in said veins.

Finally they just combed my left wrist over for the telltale pockmarks of past IV sticks, found one, and mined it with grim determination (and success).

A student aide wheeled me over to radiology for a chest X-ray, parked me in a hallway and said cheerfully, "Let me know if you get cold." Then she walked away from me, round the corner and out of sight. I stared at the wall counting the little white tiles to pass the time.

They took the X-Ray. Profile, turn around, hug the box, take a deep breath, hold it. SNAP, flash. You can breathe now.

The X-Ray tech wheeled me back into the hallway. Not before he wheeled me into the doorway, first. I put my right hand -- the one without the IV -- up and pushed the wheelchair back a little to help correct his aim. Then he parked me facing the other direction. I sat there a while watching people walk past. Then another tech picked me up and took me back to the cath holding area. He hummed atonally while he pushed, walking very fast. It almost sounded like he was a little boy pushing a Hot Wheels car: Vrrrrrrrrooooooooom. Vrrrrrooom-vrroooooom.

"She goes to Curtain #3," the cath nurse called out, and I said: "Sounds like a game show, doesn't it?" The guy pushing the wheelchair just did this grimace-smile. He glanced out the window and said, "Beautiful day out there."

"And here we are inside," I said dramatically.
"I know," he lamented. He sounded pretty sad about it.

Every bed in the holding area has a little TV on a swiveling arm. The husband and I watched Alien on the FX channel while we waited. It's a good movie to watch before going in for a cath. I'd actually never seen it before. (If I did, I don't remember it.) I couldn't figure out why Sigourney Weaver kept dragging the cat along when she's trying to board the shuttle. She even thinks to put it in the pod while she jettisons the alien from the shuttle. That would require, I contend, amazing presence of mind.

Once they wheeled me into the actual cath lab and helped me onto the table, one of the nurses marveled over my arms. "Look at that hyperextension. You must be double-jointed. Not everyone can extend their arms like that." I told them how I play this game with my sons where I "pretend" to stretch my arms out; I just figured everyone can do it. Nope, they said. You're unusually flexible.

The procedure was about what you'd expect.

They used a seal this time, which shortened the recovery period by half. After they got the seal in, the sedatives finally started to take effect. I got quite sleepy and relaxed. I think someone showed me my X Ray with the pacemaker showing and said: "Look! Someone put a radio in you!" I might have smiled. I can't really remember.

The only available bed they had for me upstairs was on the oncology floor. My nurse was extremely attentive and nice; she even walked down with me and sat next to me on the couch in the main lobby while my husband brought the car around. I'd never seen her before yesterday, of course, but she was so friendly she felt like family. She even helped me into the car and said, "Take care of yourself, now."

I'd had a cocktail of sedatives, so I slept most of the way home in the car, which I never do, even when I'm not driving. Then when we got home my husband walked me to the back door (which was locked) and when he instructed me to walk with him around to the side door I just leaned against the wall and slurred, "Can't I just stay here?"

No, he said patiently, because if I leave you here you'll fall into the bush. Walk.

I walked.

I slept really well.

I'm still stained in iodine but I can't shower until tonight. No lifting, straining or strenuous activity for five days; resume activity as tolerated. So, all is well, the cath is clear. I'll be seeing my doc in a couple of weeks for follow up. And I'm drawing a lot, so I'll post some of those sketches....tomorrow.