Thursday, February 19, 2004

That's a relief
Been in and out of hospital for the past two days, undergoing a battery of tests (electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, chest x-rays, blood tests), finishing off with a biopsy. Haven't had one in three years and, since I'm getting to the point in time where organs begin to fail, the past few months have had a cloud of nervousness hanging over them. Happily for me, nothing has deteriorated, so I guess I'll be kicking at the can for a few more years.
I will say, however, that this past biopsy was particularly, um, unpleasant. In the first few months after my operation, I was having a biopsy on average every two-three weeks: they lay you down, freeze your neck, cut through the jugular, insert a biothem into the jugular and pluck out pieces of the heart. It's pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, that area of my neck is now full of minute scar tissue. For the major check-ups, on the other hand, they go through your femoral artery, in wha'ts called a catheterisation. So, you've got to shave everything, everything, from your knees to your belly button. (Yep, you have the joy of dealing with the itchiness in the following weeks.) They make a cut in the vein next to the artery, insert a tube, and spend the next 15-30 minutes shooting iodine into your blood stream, to make sure the circulation is still good. Bonus, I'm allergic to iodine, so I have to take all these pills beforehand to avert any reactions. Once they're done with this, they insert a probe into the artery, sending it all the way into the atrium, pushing against the valve, at which point they shove the probe down into the ventricle and pinch out pieces of the heart, so it's a bit like a horsefly pulling out pieces of flesh. Bonus: nerves that were previously cut have regenerated, so this was the first time that I could feel them tugging and, hey, it hurts. Because I've had this procedure before, there's also scar tissue on the vein and artery on my thigh, so the doc had to struggle to get the probe through that also. Ouchy.
So now, I have what amounts to vampire bites on my thigh, I can't bike, ski or climb for the next while, and I can relax for the next 3 years, at which point it will be even more painful. But, hey, the alternative is even more unpleasant.


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