By Christopher Green
It’s one of the dozen or so tests that are performed before a transplant recipient can be Okayed to get on the transplant waiting list. They just want to make sure there are no lurking problems festering in the old body.
Off we went back to Fairview Hospital, my home away from home. The good thing is Fairview is affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic which means I can get there in 10 minutes instead of schlepping all the way over to the east side Cleveland Clinic Campus which is about a 40 minute cross town drive.
Now my Brother –In-Law just went through the same procedure just a few months back. The only difference was he was experiencing some symptoms. Me, well I had the same symptoms, tightness in my chest and some mild chest pain, but I chaulked these up to side effects from deep, prolonged coughing jags.
It’s a good thing I went for the test.
Turns out I have some blockage. One of my arteries is 40% choked with whatever it is that chokes an artery. Now my cholesterol has never been much of a concern. But perhaps they felt that with my lungs it would be a bit redundant to worry about cholesterol, good or bad.
It’s probably genetic as my dad was a walking talking poster child for Plavix.
It is an interesting procedure. What they do is run this hollow skinny tube up through the femoral artery. They insert this long tube through your groin.
Groin. That sent up few signals for me. I read they could do the procedure through an artery in your arm. What’s with poking around down there with a needle that looks like it could be used to kill cattle at the slaughterhouse?
Now at 52, the groin is the second most important part of my body, well third because being regular, if you get my drift, is, a lot of the time, much more of a concern than anything good that can happen down around the groinal area.
First up is the mouth area because, at this stage of the game of life for me, at least, that is where most of my potential for pleasure seems to take place. I love to talk and eat, what can I say.
There was a time when my whole existence revolved around the groinel area. So, in deference to my occasional pangs of nostalgia for the “good old days”, I was a little apprehensive about this whole “procedure.”
Nothing to worry about, they told me. So I asked, what about the arm? I read on WebMD that they often do the “procedure” with an artery in the arm.
“We,” the nurse said, “like to go in through the groin.”
She paused ,“don’t believe everything you read on the Internets.”
My sister, the nurse practitioner, we are so proud, has always told me to trust your nurse. They are there to look out for your well-being.
Since the nurse was about my age, I felt that might be the best thing to do right now. And since she was examining all the instruments and devices that would be used right there in front of me, I thought it better not to piss her off.
I was on this skinny table in this really, really cold room. Nipple popping cold. This table was so skinny that they had to pull out these arms so they could put all their operating tools right there.
I forgot to mention the quick shave. In the old days, they use to go at the hair down there with a can of Schick and a Gillette. Now they use one of those Wahl beard trimmers. Only two quick swipes and voila, I looked like a baby. (But it itches now.)
They have this X-Ray machine that they decided to go retro with the name and call it a fluoroscope. But it’s not like the cancer causing radiation bombs they use to use back in our grandparents’ age. It looks like a giant movable clamp that surrounds the table on three sides.
Well, this is when they shot me up with a mild sedative.
I was not really nervous because at this stage of the medical game I am involved with, this was a big nothing. Little more than a distraction. So I just let Dr. Bolla do his stuff.
Check out this link to an animated look at a heart catheterization:
Everything was fine. I could see what was going on on the screens dangling over my head. Of course, they were cocked toward Dr. Bolla, he also did my BIL’s procedure, but I could see it all.
I asked a few questions and he was very happy to keep me updated. A very nice man.
Well, all of the sudden he said, not to me but the surgical nurse, “Look at that!”
I said, “Look at what?”
“We seem to have some blockage, Mr. Green. Why are you having this procedure? Do you smoke?”
“I’m getting pre-tested for the Lung Transplant program. And I quit smoking 25 years ago. Am I going to die?”
He acted like he didn’t hear that. He then proceeded to point out the blockage. Actually, there were two problem areas.
“Great,” I said, “Does this mean I need a lung/heart transplant?”
They all kind of laughed.
Then he told me that fixing this blockage would help make it easier for me to breath. He also said the flow into and out of the lungs was very good and that he wanted to talk to the people over at the Cleveland Clinic to see about a stent.
So there you have it. Now I have a heart problem. Thanks dad!
They gave me a Plavix the size of a horse tranquilizer just to get the ball rolling.
Now I have four more pills to take each day.
So I’m fifty-two, I have the lung capacity of two sickly gerbils, a heart problem that might need a stent and a repaired hip on one side and a blown disc on the other side.
What a catch I am.
At least I can still laugh…