Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Angioplasty from a patients view


I am recovering very nicely and am doing fine. Have been experiencing some of the side affects of the new medications. That though is a small price to pay for the benefit the medication provides.

I have found each successive heart attack has brought it’s subtle changes to my life. This one seems mostly to have affected my internal thermimiter. I have always been a guy that is always hot. (Ladies can interpret hot in anyway they choose lol). Now I am usually feeling cold. Even wearing a sweater when others find it quite comfortable. Especially my feet, I have on occasion even taken a heating bean bag thing to bed with me, just to warm my feet.

At times I even have to remind myself that in the big picture all of this is nothing more than a nuisance and is a very small “price” to pay for being alive today. Or, in the case of the side affects of the medication a small “price” to pay for keeping me alive. I just think to myself: “Suck it up, put on your big boy underwear and appreciate how lucky you are.” I do realize and appreciate how lucky I am.

I started this off and I was going to try and describe what a heart attack felt like, I have had 5 and I suppose I should know. But, I thought about it and decided that might not be such a good idea. Heart attacks can present themselves in such a huge variety of ways. Even each of my own have been slightly different. I wouldn’t want to describe my syptoms and have anyone come away with the idea, “ah, so that is what it feels like, now I know.” Symptoms can vastly vary.

I thought instead I would describe what I experienced with the angio plasty. Strictly as a patient and what it was like for me.

This is turning out to be one of my marathon posts. I have been poking away at it for 4 days now, adding bits here and there. I hope I am at least sort of keeping some continuity of thought going on.

All that read this blog know that several weeks ago I suffered a heart attack, was hospitalized and ended up having an angioplasty with a stent being placed in my heart.

I realize this is a procedure many go through and for the doctors it is done so often it is almost routine. I bless and thank all the doctors and staff involved with this procedure as without it I would likely not be alive today.

I am going to try and describe the procedure, not from a medical point of view as I am certainly not qualified to do so. I have done no actual research in writing this so some of the terms used may be “Bill” terms. I am going to try to describe it from the patients side based on my recent experience. Every experience I am sure can be different and I am only describing mine.

Very shortly after the heart attack the doctors told me I would be sent to St. Boniface General hospital for an angiogram. Using “Bill” terms what is an angiogram? Doctors make a small incision in your groin area (can be done in other areas of the body, mine have been in the groin area). They cut into a major artery and through that feed a long tube up into your heart. Using some sort of fancy xrays they can then watch the progress of the tube in your heart. A dye of some sort is squirted through the tube and the progress of the dye as it moves through the heart muscle can be seen via the xray. Watching the dye move tells them if there are blockages or what ever. It is actually kind of cool in that you are wide awake and can acutally see on a TV type screen exactly what the doctor is seeing. You can see what is going on inside your own heart. Anyway, by watching the movement of this dye they can then identify blockages in the heart. Same technique can be used for other parts of the body.

Going into an angioplasy you are faced with likely one of 3 outcomes. You won’t know which until the doctors are in your heart. This not knowing is the hardest part. The 3 outcomes can be: a blockage is discovered that can be opened up by way of an anioplasy. A blockage is discovered that can’t be opened with angioplasty because of size or location and open heart surgery is required. Or, lastly it can be discovered that the heart attack caused damage for which nothing can be done. In this case on going treatment with medications is the only option left. I was sending up prayers that for me the angioplasty be the end result. Prayers were answered and that indeed was the outcome.

“According to Bill” what is an angioplasty. Step 2 or a continuation of the angiogram. The tube they have in your heart is manipulated into and through the blockage. On the end of the tube is a balloon type apparatus which is then inflated while in the blockage, expanding it, to open it up. To keep it open a small tube called a stent is then place in the site to keep it open.

Now as the guy laying on the table having this happen to me, what was it like? Is there pain involved? Very, very little. Biggest pain was the needle in which they put the local freezing prior to making the incision in my leg. That is not bad and only last for a few seconds. There is a little bit of  pain or more accurately discomfort when they inflate the balloon and that is only for mere seconds. Total time of discomfort maybe a minute and that is broken into short little bursts over the about the hour that it took.

Immediately after the procedure direct pressure is applied to the incision. It is into a major artery and controlling the bleeding is a worry. That was the hardest part of the whole thing for me, you have to lay absolutely still for a varying amount of time. I suppose anywhere from 2 to 9 hours as was my case. I have written about that before. Now I have to think if laying still is the hardest part, it isn’t a hard or bad procedure to “endure”.

I have added bits and pieces over the past 4 days now. I hope I kept the thought process at least somewhat constant. I suppose I could go and proof read or edit or something, but nah, why start now.

I hope no one takes this as any sort of a medical guide, it is just me rambling on.

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4 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Angioplasty from a patients view

  1. ThomasLB says:

    I have a (very small) suggestion: get a pair of diabetic socks to wear overnight. Diabetic socks fit much looser than regular socks, and will keep your feet warm but still be comfortable to wear.

    Hi Thomas, I thank you for the suggestion, I will check it out.
    Bill

  2. Jo Hart says:

    Bill ramble away until your hearts content. It gives all of us an insight into different topics we have never known about.
    As for those cold tootsie’s I suggest the hot water bottle as you are doing, can’t go past it I reckon, Trev and I end up in winter having a huge battle over the water bottle and who’s feet get there first…..

    Hi Jo, don’t have a hot water bottle, have some sort of bean bag thing. You put it in the microwave and within a couple of minutes nice and toasty.

  3. Mel says:

    Oh, excellent suggestion, Thomas!

    As one who’s always got cold feet, I’d suggest a poor suffering Brit to stick ’em on….LOL That’s what I do!

    Yaknow, I appreciate you giving me your experience. We just went through this procedure with a fella I work with and it’s good to know exactly what’s happened (though I did my research…..it doesn’t really give me a ‘human’ reaction to it).

    I’m just beyond grateful that the stent was an option.
    Prayer is a powerful thing.

    You are right Mel, the power of prayer is awesome.

  4. ceeque says:

    Hi Bill,glad to hear your angio went well but not glad to hear you had another heart attack!!
    Did they give you morphine during the procedure? That to me was the most enjoyable thing!! I asked for more!! Lol!!

    Hi Charles, it is so really nice to hear from you. Yup, they gave me the morphine. That I suppose is part of the reason I say it is harder on families than on the patient. They immediately pumped me full of “drugs” and I was relaxed and feeling good, a little sleepy was all. It was the family that did the worrying part.

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