Tuesday, December 2, 2008

G. C.'s Story

This is my first time blogging, so please bear with me. Back in 1993, I had a beautiful baby girl, and was working full-time as an operating room nurse, and taking "call" (that means that if an emergency surgery is needed after usual hours, they "call" you to come in to help do it). The amount of hours that I would weekly log would be as if I had both a full-time and a part-time job.

Then came the opportunity to loose the last of the pregnancy weight gain that I hadn't lost so far. That came in the name of Fen-Phen. My family M.D. prescribed it, and little by little, I was loosing the weight that I wanted to. But in exchange for this weight I noticed the start of swollen ("edematous") lower legs & ankles, and at times, disturbingly shortness of breath. Having access to a cardiac (heart) monitor (I also worked in the Recovery Room), one day I hooked myself up to it, and ran off a strip that printed out a long line of what my heart beat looked like. What I saw, I didn't like, and so I brought it over to an anesthesiologist not helping with surgery at that time.He strongly suggested that I go to the Emergency Room.

After being scoffed at by the Cardiologist in the E.R. (Back then I was a 43 year old female. I'm older now, and still female, and still scoffed at); he had quite a different expression when the labwork came back indicating that I was in the process of having a "small" (non q-wave) heart attack. This was a very small community hospital, and I was shipped to a much more evolved hospital.There I had the first of my angiograms (to date, I've lost count, but I know this is true-- the number of catherizations that I have had now number over 40)... and when I mention that to any of the neccessary people involved, even to this day, they claim I've set a new record of sorts... Whoopee. (I was hoping for a dozen roses on my 12th, but that never happened. How disappointing!)

Now my days are spent nearly totally inactive; I'm on Letairus (which seems to help), but have leg swelling that even amazes me at times, a variety of wheezing sounds that range anywhere from a herd of demented ducks to a hacking cough that wakes me up at night with a range of sounds that are quite interesting to say the least. Any type of physical activity makes me breathless, and my heart race.

Up until my last echo (a week ago) the numbers showed that I had pulmonary hypertension. But now the big dilema, (despite having taken the Fen-Phen) is which came first-- the left or the right-sided heart failure because of my previous heart attacks (I have had a total of 4, with 5 blocked stents). And those pulmonary numbers vary, which I find very confusing.

It seems that because of additional diagnoses, (abnormal cardiac arteries-- one of which is called a "myocardial bridge",& has it's own unique problem-- which doesn't respond to traditional coronary artery disease treatment, and all of the other arteries are fine), pulmonary hypertension, multiple sclerosis, and newly diagnosed hypothyroidism (which wasn't there when I first started seeing the Pulmonlogist).

I'd love to know of anyone (doctor or patient) that has some insight into what it's like to be in my spot-- having newby interns trying to tell me one day it's my heart giving me trouble, the next day then telling me that I don't have any heart problems (despite coronary bypass and many interventions), and then the best answer that makes me see red-- that i"m "just anxious".

I often have to explain what "Myocardial Bridge" means, as well as what a certain procedure I have had called "T.M.R." (Transmyocardial Revascularization). I am the one in the bed as a patient, not the one wearing the white coat and stethoscope around my neck!!! I want answers and I want to feel like somebody knows what's going on, and can come up with a plan for me!!! I feel like I'm back-tracking...not making any real progress, only more confused... help please?