In about a half-hour, I’ll be heading down the Grand Avenue hill to the Nasseff Heart Center for a coronary angiogram. A catheter is inserted in an artery in my groin and passed up to my heart. A contrast dye is passed through the catheter so the arteries display well on an x-ray and any coronary artery problems become apparent.
As it was explained to me by the cardiologist while I was in the hospital, “We want to make sure there’s nothing else wrong while we’ve got the hood open.”
All I’m saying is they better have excellent drugs. I’m in no mood for any bullshit. And this is awful early in the morning.
Update: Thursday, 17 February 2011 2:54PM CST: I’m back up the Grand Avenue hill and at home. The coronary angiogram was a relatively simple procedure and took less than an hour. No way did I have to get there at 6:30AM; they didn’t do anything until almost 8:30AM. I’m a notoriously tough stick for doing blood draws and starting intravenous (IV) lines, but I had a great nurse—with the same birthday as mine—who stuck the stick with no problem at all.
The coronary angiogram revealed no surprises, thankfully. I have significant calcification of my arteries as a result of kidney failure and 11 years of dialysis, but the calcification is on the outside, presenting no problems whatever.
So, the damage to my mitral valve occurred relatively quickly and is isolated. Open-heart surgery will consist of attempting to repair the damaged mitral valve—and replacing it if repair is unsuccessful—and out.
Update: Friday, 18 February 2011 3:35AM CST: The main function of dialysis is to remove toxins and fluid from the body; a function the natural kidneys are no longer capable of performing. After 11 years on dialysis it’s remarkable that I retain a little—very little—natural kidney function. The contrast dyes in procedures like a coronary angiogram are really hard on healthy kidneys, so for an individual whose kidneys have already failed, it’s not much of an issue. But if there’s any function at all—however minimal—it’s a good thing to try to do whatever necessary to keep it. The way that’s done with patients with healthy kidneys is to flow excess fluid into the body to dilute the contrast dye, knowing they’ll just pee it off later. So that’s what they did with me yesterday. The original prep nurse understood the conundrum and countermanded the order for excess fluid. The procedure nurse—meaning well—followed the order and ran the saline. As a result—because I’m unable to pee more than a tiny fraction of it off—I’m a whopping seven pounds heavier and unable to breathe lying down. My breathing problems are mostly related to the mitral valve regurgitation, but carrying seven extra pounds of fluid certainly doesn’t help. The law of unintended consequences is a bitch and—regardless of intent—it’s times like these that I think it would be a good thing for medical professionals to have to experience the process of removing that much excess fluid from one’s body.