It has taken me a while until I have felt well enough to even think of this blog. However, it is therapeutic for me to write it all, as well as informs everyone who has been kind enough to keep tabs on me and how everything went.
Last week I was super anxiety ridden and terrified for the procedure, as well as the stress of having a ton of papers and final exams to finish. If I'm being honest I haven't felt that much anxiety in years, but we got through it.
I spent the day before surgery trying to finish 3 finals, one 10 page research paper, film a group project, get everything in order, and keep my mind off the day ahead. These kids tried to keep my busy and entertained on top of all of it by going with me to go get delish food:
That night I was super emotional. I just really had no idea what to expect the next day. I truly knew I was not going to die, but was I going to be subjected to another surgery without being put under? Would I have open heart again?? I mean the list goes on and on. I was dreading the whole process and I think part of the problem and the reason for much of my anxiety is I really knew what I was in for.
5:15 AM the next morning came awful early and very quickly. I woke up like a slug, and hopped in the shower. You always know: a) everyone is going to see you naked, so extra long showers are in order as to make sure every nook and cranny is good and clean (haha, but seriously), and b) that it will probably be the last one for a little while... so enjoy it while you can.
My poor parents looked like they had been hit by a bus. It has been a very large roller coaster and their anxiety was easy to see as well.
We checked in while it was still dark and I had big butterflies in my tummy. We waited a while and then I was finally called for registration. I always get the same conversation:
I pull out my license and insurance card as I watch the lady's face be surprised that she didn't have to ask for it. She looks over my paper work, get's a concerned look on her face when she sees my medical history, asks all the usual questions and then says, "wow....heart surgery huh? You are much too young to have heart problems". I answer, "ya, I know. No fun." I continue to sign in all the places without her telling me whereand she says, "you must come here a lot. You definitely know what to do". "Yup...." and she puts the wrist band on me. Then finally, I always get the, "good luck sweetie!" with a worried look. I feel grateful for the kindness, but it reminds me that I am going in for something scary. I don't like it.
They call my name, I go back to the cath lab, they hand me a gown.
We can definitely all agree that this is one of the world's worst photos of me, but it is what it is.
Who looks good in a hospital gown??
Obviously not me.
She leaves and 5 minutes later she comes back and tells us that Dr. Tate insisted that I be under general anesthesia rather than sedation because of my prior experience. Not to mention the length of the procedure and what could happen during surgery that would be uncomfortable. I LOVE HIM! That was the first miracle.
My dad had given me a priesthood blessing earlier that week and had promised me some very specific things. Some are too sacred to share, but everything that he said and everything the Lord promised me happened. I can just promise you that. A few that I can share were:
1. My experience would not be like my previous one, I would not be awake for the procedure, and my body would react to the anesthesia.
2. The doctor's hands would be guided by many forces, seen and unseen. That they would be able to fix the problem.
3. I would have countless angels of those I had cared for, their families, as well as my own family members and friends from the other side to take care of me.
It was pretty awesome to say the least.
My mom happened to see this painting the day before that pretty much illustrates how I felt...angels all around me. I really could feel the hundreds of prayers that had been offered on my behalf and the comfort received from many guardian angels.
I don't really know how to describe the feeling, except for strength and peace and love. But it is so real and tangible! I am so grateful because I did not feel so alone.
The doctor came in and explained in a lot of detail what he was going to do. He answered all of our concerns and questions so that it was easy to understand and made us feel validated. I just really like him so much and knew I was in great hands. We waited for the anesthesiologist because he was not scheduled, and I was more than willing to wait. My mom knitted nervously and my dad played on his iPad and I just laid there...trying to prepare myself.
Finally they came to take me. I just hate those last hugs and smooches from the parents before I go back because it feels so scary and so final, in some weird way. I am sure it is worse for them...in fact I know it is so I shouldn't complain.
They take me back and I lay on the cold hard slab with the music blasting...once again. It is like the never ending nightmare I keep reliving! They start sticking stuff all over me, strapping me down, and I start to feel a little drowsy. I start saying funny things, because I am great on drugs, and they put the mask over me and tell me to breathe deeply. Just before I go out he says, "OK, here we go, I'm going to put you under." I blurt out through the mask, "THANK YOU KINDLY!" and....I was gone.
What a relief.
I woke up 6 hours later in quite a bit of pain and the horrible chills from anesthesia. My recovery nurse was awesome and got me to feel much better.
I truly don't know anything that happened because the doctor came in while I was sleeping to give updates to my parents. Apparently it was a pretty rough 6 hours.
I guess what happened is at first they saw a very clear pattern of where the tachycardia was happening and it was in a completely different place that they thought and was much less complicated to fix. Seriously an incredible miracle. In order to see where the problem is happening they pump you full of adrenaline and put your heart through quite a bit. They were able to go in and fix it however with a small ablation to the area to get to it to stop. It was great news!
The doctor came in to tell them it all went great, left the room, and not two minutes later did the nurse come in and tell them there was a problem and I went back in to arrhythmia in a different place as well. That was stressful. Another few hours went by with them trying to recreate what they had just seen and could not get me to do it again. They are hoping that it was just caused from everything they were putting my heart through, and not a problem with my heart itself. In the end they cut through both my legs and put enough adrenaline in me that it was equivalent to running 3 marathons.
Recovery is never fun after these because you can't lift your head or move your legs for 4 and half hours. Shoot me. They also pump you full of fluids so you have to pee more than you ever have in your life, but can't get up to go...this means bed pan, and bed pans mean misery. My chest also felt like someone had stomped on it, my throat killed me because of the intubation tube, sore legs and pelvic area from the catheter, and massive headache from the adrenaline. I could not wait to get home!
Gratefully everything went better than expected so I did not have to stay in the hospital. I was so happy and could not wait to get into my own little bed!
So I have done a lot of this...
Ramen, slushies, TV, pills, hanging out with Scuddles, "get well" cards and love, swollen feet, legs and pelvis, and waiting for something exciting to happen on social media. Oh yeah, and playing a lot of solitaire.
People always ask me how I can stand staying in bed for so long. My answer is: I have no idea.
It has been years of this I guess, so I try to stay busy and pass the time. It get's lonely, but my family and Sonny is there and I don't really have energy to be around people...so it is a vicious cycle.
So I'm gonna keep on keeping' on!
I don't feel awesome. In fact I still feel like a bus hit me, and am coming down with a bug on top of the surgery...but nothing that isn't expected.
So that's my story and I'm sticking' to it.
All I can say is I am a miracle child. There is a God and He loves me very much and knows every ache and pain and mental anguish and frustration and misery I have gone through. He knows this is the only way for me to be sanctified through difficult things....to become a better person after I have struggled my way through. So in a weird way, I'm so grateful for all of it.
That being said, I sincerely hope it is over! And that now it can be on to healing and recovery. I am so humbled by all of the love and support given to me. I have the best and most incredibly family and friends in the world! I just wish I could thank everyone individually and not collectively, but it is so difficult because of the overwhelmingly large number of support I have been given. So THANK YOU and I just love you so much.