Back in February of 2013, one Saturday night, I had a stroke. Fortunately, it was a little bitty one, and I was back in the classroom on Tuesday, though it took the brain a bit longer to fully compensate for the very minor damage, and settle comfortably into a new normal, slightly different than the old normal, but equally functional. I had fun for about a week walking up to colleagues, peering curiously at them, and asking: “what’s your name again?” The brain is a wondrous thing, and God looks out for English teachers and the authors of scruffy little blogs.
I had the stoke due to Atrial Fibrillation–A-Fib, which had been diagnosed the previous summer. Medication kept it under pretty good control for nearly six years, but on Friday, I underwent cryoablation. I’ll let you take the link, gentle readers, if you’re interested, but it is remarkable. We live in an age of medical miracles.
I had the procedure because I was finally experiencing A-fib about 20% of the time, as determined by a month on a portable heart monitor, which was a neat little radio transmitter–about the size of a watch–worn around the neck as a sort of pendant, attached to four stick-on contacts about the chest. The transmitter transmitted to a specially programmed cell phone. The thing–rented–was damned expensive, but may have saved my life. Any episode of A-fib greatly increases the chance of stroke, but the blood thinner I’ve been taking all along–Pradaxa–and will take the rest of my life, helped there.
The experience was interesting indeed. Just before the action, I asked my surgeon if he was feeling particularly precise and skillful. He laughed and assured me he felt that way every day. A surgeon that can laugh at himself is always a good sign. The cath lab looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. There was a huge multi-screen monitor, and all kinds of high tech goodies strewn apparently haphazardly about, as well as a great many personnel. I lay down and the anesthetist told me I’d be out in about 30 seconds and I was indeed, which probably wasn’t a bad thing, because they shaved my nether region and threaded four catheters in four spots on my groin up and into the heart, etc. If I had known, I would have gotten a bikini wax…on second thought, probably not. Don’t want to scare the horses and stampede the women and children.
They used those–and another one in my left wrist–to poke around inside my body and heart, a process that took about 3.5 hours. I was of course, obliviously unconscious. Because they added another blood thinner for the procedure, they had to wait for about two hours after I woke up until my clotting numbers were right, and then two nurses, simultaneously, pulled out the catheters, one on each side (nurses, not the two catheters…oh, you know what I mean). One of the bloody things was blue, about as big around as your thumb, and long enough to reach the heart–I’m 6’ tall. It’s impossible to describe the feeling when she held that up for me to see. No it’s not. I said: “that’s a long one.” Let it never be said I am not observant and astute. The nurses thought it humorous anyway.
Remarkably, there was no pain there, and the only bruising I have is on the left wrist. The only pain was when the nurses applied surprisingly powerful direct pressure to those four wounds for up to 20 minutes, but as my love weenie was there, between them and in easy reach of their powerful hands, exposed and hiding as best it could, I thought it the better part of valor to keep a stiff upper lip, as it was surely not going to do that.
Then it was off to a hospital room in the Harris Methodist Cardiac building, where I was attended by three lovely and efficient nurses, several equally engaging technicians, and a variety of other folks, all of whom delivered first rate care. The charge nurse, an experienced former citizen of England, even said she wants to read my book(!) until I was released to the tender ministrations of Mrs. Manor just before noon today. I have discovered the primary function of any hospital is to deny patients more than a hour or two of undisturbed rest, and Harris Methodist is expert in that regard. I had to lay flaccid in bed for 12 hours, so with the help of two books and an Ancient Alien TV marathon, managed to stay awake until 0200 and then proceeded to breeze around the hallways, my rear end flapping in the breeze due to the standard hospital gown, which requires rear end breeze flapping.
In any case, I feel fine, but am tired. I’m experiencing no apparent problems, but it will take a bit more time to know if the procedure did the trick and cured me, once and for all, of the A-Fib. I’m also on three new meds for up to three months. I’m a prescription drug druggie!
I say all that, gentle readers, to let you know why I didn’t get a Saturday article published as usual, though I will be posting Sunday Funnies, as usual, in a few hours. As always, thanks for patronizing this scruffy little blog, and it’s good to be alive! That sort of miracle has always been around.