Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hospital Time

As predicted, the cardiologist appointment on Thursday went a bit worse than the urologist visit. They noticed some irregularities in my EKG and blood flow sounds, and given my history with Takayasu's, they decided I needed some more in-depth testing. And boy howdy, do I mean in-depth. I was taken by ambulance (prone and strapped down on the gurney, with the oxygen thing in my nose and everything) directly from the cardiologist's office to the hospital. They didn't want to cause more stress on my heart by letting me drive.

They did a CAT scan later that afternoon and found out that my aorta was enlarged and calcified. In the words of the cardiac surgeon I "have the aorta of an 80-year old man", which is never something you really want to hear, unless of course you're 90 or older. They're worried about the aorta continuing to enlarge but think the calification may actually help in that it'll keep it from getting much bigger. It's a concern, but since there is still decent blood flow through it, it isn't something to worry about immediately. I'm scheduled for follow up visits so they can keep an eye on it and see if it gets any worse. If it does my only course of action would be to replace the vessel. Fun, fun.

But it doesn't end there. They also did a cardiac catheterization the following day to check the blood flow in the arteries feeding my heart. It involves inserting a catheter into an artery in the leg and feeding it up through the body until it gets to the heart, then injecting dye and watching how the blood flows. The good news is they didn't find anything wrong with them whatsoever, they termed them "pristine". The bad news is that blood flow to my left kidney is 90% blocked. They checked the kidneys on their way since I'd had problems with them as a child and the catheter went right by the renal arteries as they were feeding it up my body. They're not very concerned about it for the moment but I'll be following up with a renal specialist to discuss possible angioplasty and inserting a stent to open up the artery. Which can all be done on an outpatient basis somehow. Medicine's come a long way in the last 20 years.

I was finally able to leave the hospital on Saturday and come home. They've started me on some beta-blockers for my blood pressure and heart rate and I have several follow-up visits to schedule over the next few months.

Overall I feel pretty good about the situation, considering everything that happened and that will need to happen in the future. It was a bit scary being wheeled out on a stretcher in an ambulance, and then all the waiting for the tests to be done and results to come back was a little unnerving as well. But having my parents and sister come up to keep me company, and knowing that The Shelbster was safe and well cared for by Greg helped keep me from getting too stressed out about it all.

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