Sunday, March 17, 2013

Surgery Number 11, worst day ever.

I have finally gotten up the courage to write some of the details of what happened in surgery. It has taken me a while before I have been willing to write about it because it really was so traumatic for me. However, I think it is easiest written here so then I don't have to keep talking about it over and over again. It is also therapeutic to write it out, so here goes nothing.

I wasn't so nervous for this one. I had good feelings about it and felt peaceful that everything was going to go OK. Last time (my surgery in December) I was so revved up of all the possible complications, but most of all I was very nervous that I was not going to be sedated enough and have the same scenario of being awake like during my first heart surgery. Gratefully on this past surgery in December they used general anesthesia and so I was totally and completely out. They had told me that they would schedule an anesthesiologist again and so my worries of being awake for this upcoming surgery were totally gone.

I went through my normal ritual the night before, and unlike last time, I slept really well. I was excited to finally have this over with. I had the assurance that I would be fixed up and ready to move on with life, a prospect I had been hoping for for a long time. The next morning we checked in, no problem, and after they called my name we ran into the doctor. He explained to me that they would not be able to use general anesthesia like they did last time because they thought that by putting me to sleep, they were also slowing my heart down too much. This would prevent my heart from going into tachycardia and unable to see where the problem lie and how to fix it. He explained that really, there would be no point to doing the surgery if my heart didn't perform, but assured me that they would keep me out of it enough that I would be comfortable. My heart sank...I was nervous now, but tried to reassure myself that they did have an anesthesiologist there to keep me comfortable so I would probably be fine.

I got dressed and the nicest lady ever, my anesthesiologist, came in. She was so kind and understanding and said she would do all she could to keep me comfortable and ensured me that she would put me all the way out while they put in and took out the lines. Then, in between, she would bring me up while they were working on me but keep me out of it enough that I wouldn't really be aware of what was going on.

After I got into the operating room and they had all the stickers all over me, I laid down and I was out like a light. Next thing I know, I am waking up strapped completely down with an oxygen mask on my face, the doctor standing over me with the catheter in my groin, explaining to me that they are going to have to keep me all the way awake, no sedation. He continued to explain that they could not get my heart to recreate the problems I had been having. Jenn (the anesthesiologist) apologized profusely that there was nothing she could do, but that I could call out to her at any time and she would be right there to help me. Stabbing pain started to radiate from my leg when I realized I was not completely numb where he had put the the lines in. This meant many more shots in my leg and in groin region...ouch. He apologized, but I assured them I was tough though, and I could get through this. Little did I know how horrific the next 3 and a half hours of my life would be.

With Jenn about 15 feet away and behind me, and the doctor and nurses in a room behind the glass, I laid there...totally alone. The most alone I had ever felt... freezing, scared, and tied down. Then, with no warning, all of the sudden I feel medicine shooting through my IV that sends my heart rate over 200 instantly. My body felt like I was completely on fire, I was shaking uncontrollably, my heart pounding as hard as I have ever felt it, chest pains, feelings of intense anger and I start crying like a baby. No one explained what they were doing to me, but I was being pumped with Isuprel (a drug that mimics adrenaline) at a very high dose. I was scared out of my mind and completely coherent...not even a little hazy or sedated in any way. That lasted about 5 minutes when the doctor sent the nurse out to "give me a break". She turned off the medication and I felt my heart rate come down. The doctor came out to fish around with the catheter in my heart while he mapped out everything. He could see the tears running down my cheeks and apologized again that they could not sedate me at all. It would be all for nothing if they couldn't get my heart to do "its thing".

He went back into the room, and again, medication came flushing through the IV, but this time with even more force...I was shaking all over and so scared. I yelled out for Jenn, over and over and over again but she could not hear me with my oxygen mask on my face while she was conversing with another nurse. That was it, I was totally alone now. No one could hear me. All I could think of was the Savior and that in some small way, this is how he must have felt when he was all alone and in agony. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more that I could feel just some bit of comfort. Was my Grandpa somewhere up there? Could he help me now? What about all my little lovely old folks in the spirit world? Could they be with me? Somebody....anybody? I felt nothing. Nothing but this crappy medicine that was making me more angry. Then when I felt like no one was listening to my prayers for the first time in my life, that made me even more angry and scared. And then, they gave me another break.

Thank goodness.

My body hurt so bad from having to lay so still on a flat metal slab...especially my lower back. I finally got Jenn's attention and she wiped the tears from my eyes. I was so grateful for her at that moment. She ran in to ask if she could give me a tiny bit of pain medication because of how uncomfortable I was. At first he said no because it could possibly sedate me, but she begged for it. I was so grateful she was my advocate. Eventually he agreed and she ran to give me as much as she possibly could. It was seriously heavenly. My body relaxed a little and my pain subsided. When the doctor noticed the pain meds weren't messing with my heart, he told her she could give it to me as needed. I was so grateful. He came back in and fished around in my heart again, which felt really strange, and promised me he was going to do all he could to find this problem and that this torture would not be in vain.

Well, on and on and on and on this process went. Each time turning the medication higher and higher til they eventually pumped me to an 8. The most they generally pump a person with is a 4.5 or 5....and I was at an 8. True torture, which had even Jenn in tears to watch this process happen over and over and over again. I was so angry that they could not get my heart to do what it does to me all day every day, which is go into atrial aggravating. Why wasn't this working??

I felt like a prisoner on death row being executed. I have watched those TV shows of the lethal injections they give to those men and what it does to their bodies....feeling like they are on fire, and shaking profusely. All while being tied down.....that is exactly what was happening to me, only over and over and over again.

I tried to talk to Jenn (when I could actually speak when I wasn't so out of breath from my heart beating so hard) about her life, my life, anything to keep my mind on other things. But oh how angry I was. Eventually swearwords were falling out of my mouth. Jenn told me to say them as loud as I wanted because it was just me and her. I am not at all an angry person, so this new, very intense emotion that came at me like a tidal wave was surprising. I kind of laughed through my swearwords and I gave myself a pass. I decided I didn't have to feel one bit bad about those words this time, since really, I think the medicine made me do it.

By the end of those 3 and half agonizing hours, Jenn was rubbing my poor feet and had tears as she apologized because all of her pharmaceutical abilities had been stripped from her. She assured me once again that she would do anything she could to make me feel comfortable. The doctor eventually came in and said that he had good news and bad news. The good news was, they were finally able to figure out what was going on. The bad news is that it is not fixable.

Are. You. Kidding. Me?? Not fixable??

Then the tears really started to come....what had I gone through this for? The blog post I had written the day before about Zion's Camp and having to go 800 miles for nothing was now slapping me in the face because I was REALLY mad. And sad. And disappointed. I was really grateful for a doctor who could stay focused enough to not give up on trying to find an answer all while knowing he was torturing me - and he admitted, he really, really tortured me - but I still hated him at that moment. As soon as Jenn got the word she ran in and knocked me out cold so they could take all the lines out. Welcomed relief.

I woke up very angry and very distraught. Once again I was alone in my room, with one very full bladder, and was told I had to lay flat for another 4 and a half hours. Oh! The anger. The anger was too much. Finally my parents came in with great attitudes trying to cheer me up which only made me more mad. I did not want to be cheered up. There was no good in the world, and I officially hated my life (once again, medication side effects here). And, on top of that, no one understood what I had just gone through! A tech came in to do an echo complaining about her "bad day" because she was running late. I wanted to say, "really lady?? You want to talk about bad days huh?". Ohhhh what a brat I was. I never acted like this.

The doctor came in and explained that I had a completely different issue than they had expected called "inappropriate sinus tachycardia". This meant that the node that controls the pace/rhythm of my heart was overreacting at the wrong times...such as during rest, or when I am asleep, or over compensating in times of exertion (like going up there stairs). When exercising it makes me feel extremely winded, my heart rate way too high and then takes way too long to settle down after. He explained that there really is no treatment because to ablate that area around the SV node is too dangerous. This means I will be on beta-blockers (that I hate with everything in me) for possibly the rest of my life. We also planned on getting back in to cardiac rehab and going off some medications that could be exacerbating the problem. He also said there was a chance of it going away over a long period of time which was good news. But whatever, I was still mad. I didn't want hear good news, I just had wanted to be fixed so bad...and that wasn't going to happen.

I stayed angry for a lot of days. That medication is horrible that they pumped me with and can take about a week before it completely leaves your system. Not to mention on top of  all that crap in my system, starting me on this new beta-blocker that has made me crazy depressed and extremely tired. I will say, my heart rate is down in the 60's which it hasn't been since open that is great news.

Anyway, this depression and anger is why I haven't wanted to see the people I love, talk about my experience, or do anything at all while I worked through this trauma. I have had awful nightmares of being strapped down in an operating room and I can tell you I would not wish this experience upon anyone. It was literally the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, and I feel like I can never fully explain what it felt like to go through all of it.

I know it will get better, and it is getting better, but it will have to be at my own pace.

I can't wait to get back to the old me.  And it is coming, one day at a time.

So there you have it, the longest blog on earth. If you made it to here...well, you're a trooper to listen to my complaining.

I must admit, it felt good to bawl my head off while I re-lived the experience so that now I can put it away and out of my mind.

Thank you so, so, so, so very much for all the prayers in my behalf. They were not in vain, and even if I felt alone...I know I wasn't.

More later.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Learning to Trust the Journey.

I have been thinking a lot lately about life, and how things don't always work out as we plan.

I am taking a Doctrine and Covenants class right now and was thinking a lot about Zion's Camp and the journey that the early Mormon saints were asked to travel on (This is a very watered down version of the story). They traveled 800 miles because of people struggling in Missouri and a revelation from God to assemble the camp and leave. The original plan was for the state militia to reinstate Mormons into Jackson County lands and for Zion's camp to defend the saints when they had their property returned. In the end the Missouri governor did not call out the militia. Instead of attacking the Missourians, the Lord told Joseph to disband the camp and turn around and come home. There were so many difficult situations on this journey and I can't imagine how frustrating that would have been. I am sure they were thinking, "soooo....what was the point of this again? We came all this way for nothing."

However, when they were able to look back, they could see how much they had grown, and how ultimately it had prepared Brigham Young and many other saints for the future, much larger, journey they would have to make to come to Utah.

In one of the journals I read it said, "Upon arriving in Kirtland, many heckled Brigham Young for going west with the camp. 'Who has it benefited?' he remembered them asking. 'If the Lord did command it to be done, what object had he in view in doing so?' But Brigham knew of the valuable experiences he had learned. 'I told those brethren that I was well paid - paid with heavy interest - yea that my cup was filled to overflowing with the knowledge that I had received by traveling...'".

So many experiences in my life have not worked out how I thought it should. Often times I have prayed for support and inspiration and have gone with what I felt the Lord had asked me to do.  I did it, and it did not work out...even though I had made the journey, I had to turn around and come home. It really is a frustrating experience and can sometimes make you question your faith. This has happened in my dating life, my mission (especially), my health, school, jobs...etc. However, not a single time have I looked back after I have gone further in my journey and not seen a purpose, or felt gratitude that things didn't work out how I thought was best.

I am just so grateful that I am not the one in charge. I'm so grateful that I don't always get the things I ask for in the timing I think is best. I know in order for me to really accomplish the things I have set out to do with my full potential, I needed more experience and growth before I was ready for the good intentions of my heart.

After I thought about this further, I came across these scriptures is D&C 105:9-10 that summed up what I was feeling perfectly:

" is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion- That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty and the things which I require at their hands."

My health problems have taught me so many principles, especially patience and compassion, with more depth than could have possibly taken place any other way for me. I know that it is preparing me for much bigger things. I need to continue to have the faith that even though things have not worked out as I want them to for all these years, that it is for a very good purpose.

Our journeys are never, ever in vain.

Never give up. Keep going. Trust God. Stay faithful.

If you are struggling, and need a good boost.....I promise you, this is one of the most powerful talks I have ever heard. Pretty sure he wrote it for me.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Favorites of the Week

Haven't done one of these posts in a here goes nothin!

1. Favorite Product:

Dasani Drops

So I will be the first to admit that I don't love water as much as I should. In my perfect world Diet Coke would be water....but it isn't. Anyway, these little drops have quadrupled my water intake and does not have any sugar or calories or even the aspartame that is apparently so bad for you. Don't get me wrong, there is still nothing better to me than a Diet Coke, but this is really helping curb my cravings for sweets and other juices and drink way more water. They are delicious too! And I love the strawberry kiwi and pineapple coconut the best.

Also I am obsessed with Vine.
If you don't know what it is, it is time to learn. It is an app much like Instagram, only with 6 second videos. It is hilarious for the most part and pretty fun. Just another way to document life. Unfortunately it has only been developed for iPhones so far, but they are working on Android and other compatibilities. 

2. Favorite food or recipe

Kneaders French Toast

Ok, duh. So delish. Had this yesterday and I probably shouldn't have. If you live or are visiting Utah and have never been, it is time. They are even endless...but I have never made it past one piece. So too rich for me, but that means I can have it the next day! Yummers. 

3. Favorite moment of the week:

Well, I have been in bed all it hasn't been too exciting. However, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that my dog ate my homework. I wasn't super happy about it, but then I just thought it was so funny. Like four of my books and binders have the edges chewed off them. Chloe is so dang independent and into EVERYTHING. We should have named her Dora...the explorer. What a little funny. 

4. Favorite lesson of the week:

Never give up. The Lord ALWAYS keeps his promises. Don't lose faith.

This week our family experienced an incredible miracle that is too personal to share. But all I know is that God is there for us. When we do our best, he will carry us through. He will not forsake us. Keep going. 

5. Favorite song of the week:

Uhm....duh. Suit and Tie. Obsessed. 

6. Favorite video of the week:

I watched this no less than 30 times in one day and had tears every time. I am sure everyone has seen it, but it is just so dang funny. When I first saw it, it only had 1500 views, and then the next day it had 9 million. It was crazy!!

7. Favorite thing on TV:

Oh man. This show just gets funnier and funnier. Last week's episode "The Parking Spot" gave my sister and I legit tears we were laughing so hard. 

8. Favorite pic of the week:

9. Favorite funny of the week:

10. Favorite inspiration of the week:

I am devastated to hear this little boy passed away this week. However, this family has handled everything so well and it is a beautiful story of courage and love. Follow Mitchell's Journey here.
Prayers for this family are definitely needed at this time. 

That's all for now :)! Happy Sunday everyone.