Saturday, December 31, 2011

Successful Stent Procedure

On Thursday (December 29, 2011), I went to the University of Chicago Medical Center to have a stent implanted into my narrowed left pulmonary artery. As instructed, I arrived at 11:00am to get prepped and to meet briefly with the interventional cardiologist who would be performing the procedure. He told me that he expected it to take about two to three hours depending on how everything goes. I was wheeled into the cath lab at 1:00pm, and the procedure began.

I was sedated throughout it and recall going in and out of consciousness while I was on the table. Although I had no real concept of the amount of time that had passed, I got the sense that things were taking longer than originally expected (in part because my back was getting sore laying on the hard table for an extended period of time). At one point, the doctor informed me that they were having difficulty accessing the narrowed artery. He explained that, while passing through the site of the aneurysm (in my main pulmonary artery) with the cath, it was tough to find the very narrow opening to the left pulmonary artery on the other side. He said they had a couple more things they were going to try doing but that there was a possibility that they wouldn’t be successful.

When I asked him what exactly that would mean, he said he wasn’t quite ready to go there yet but that, if they couldn’t access the narrowed artery to get the stent in place, the only other option might be invasive surgery. So there I was lying on the table, partially sedated, and thinking to myself, “Well damn, today’s procedure was meant to avoid another open heart surgery!”

I must have received more sedation at that point because the next thing I remember was waking up on that table and being told that they were finally able to access the narrowed artery and that they had put a balloon in to open it up. The doctors were now discussing whether or not to just leave the balloon in place or to go ahead and put the stent in as originally planned. Fortunately, the doctor in charge felt that, as he and I had discussed prior to the procedure, the stent was the best option.

At that point, more sedation must have been given to me, as the next time I woke up, I was surrounded by the interventional cardiologist and my two ACHD cardiologists. I instantly thought, “Okay, either this is a really good sign or a really bad sign.” But they all had smiles on their faces and informed me that the procedure was completed successfully and that the stent had been placed exactly where it was intended to go! When I asked the doctors what time it was, they told me it was 7:00pm, six hours after I had first climbed onto that table!

I barely slept that night; but, then again, I don’t know many people who get a restful night’s sleep while in the hospital. Fortunately, everyone that I dealt with there was great. The medical staff enjoyed (at least outwardly) my corny humor while I interacted with them, and they quickly addressed any questions and concerns that I had.

The next morning, the interventional cardiologist came to check on me and to share some more good news. He told me that within minutes of getting the stent placed, the blood pressure at the site of the aneurysm went down considerably! This is exactly how the doctors were hoping my body would respond. Although I had experienced some mild chest pain and pressure overnight, all of my vital stats and measurements looked excellent. The post-procedure x-ray, EKG, and echocardiogram all showed that everything was functioning very well. I was released from the hospital right around 3:00pm and put on a regimen of Plavix and chewable aspirin.

Next steps:
  • Electrophysiology study on January 9
  • Follow-up appointment with ACHD cardiologist on January 24

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