Monday, May 9, 2011

and then today there was the heart surgery

My mom had heart surgery today.

Over the past year, she has had occasional bouts of an irregular heartbeat, something similar to what her mom had that eventually caused congestive heart failure. Mom's doctor has had her on several medications, including a blood thinner, because the irregular heartbeat is a major cause of blood clots and stroke. The more extreme method of dealing with the heartbeat issue is to insert catheters into veins in your legs and neck, then induce the irregular heartbeat, map the irregular heartbeat, and then laser around the major blood vessels in the heart, causing scar tissue to form that hopefully blocks the extra electrical impulses that cause the irregular heartbeats, thus eliminating the irregular heartbeats.

Note: surgery is the more extreme method of dealing with this issue.

Mom's thought process regarding dealing with this issue went something like this:

  • Try the medications including the blood thinner.
  • Become somewhat irritated by required blood tests to monitor blood "thickness".
  • Change to a different, more costly, non-generic blood thinner because it's newer and thus probably better.
  • Go see a surgeon to discuss options.
  • Comment regularly that she's not afraid of cancer but she can't stand the thought of having a stroke.
  • Become irritated because some of the other medications don't allow her to eat grapefruit.
  • Decide that if she has surgery, she will be able to stop taking all medications.
  • Go see the surgeon again and schedule surgery.
  • Decide that although this surgery typically requires at least four hours of anesthesia while doctors are feeding catheters through your heart, which, according to said doctors, will "irritate and stress" her heart, that in her case, it will only take about an hour and it can't be that big of a deal because she'll come home with just three little bandages and then she can stop taking all of those other drugs including the blood thinner.
  • Note that as soon as she is off the blood thinners and healed up from this procedure, she can have eyelid surgery because dad had it and he can see so much better now so she should probably have it too.
Very pleased to report her surgery only lasted three and a half hours and the doctor "accomplished all of the goals" he had set for today.

Unfortunately, there seems to have been a slight misunderstanding. Turns out she will have to take all of her current medications and two additional medications for the next three months. After that, the doctor will take her off of everything--oh, except the blood thinners, which she will have to take for the rest of her life, because while studies are currently being conducted, until they are certain that the risk of stroke is eliminated, they are going conservative and keeping patients like her on the meds.

Less than three minutes after the doctor told her she would remain on the blood thinner, she had already converted that conversation into a new version that said she was a guinea pig for his studies and would be able to stop taking the blood thinner at some point before too long.

I'm thinking she'll be scheduling the eyelid surgery by summer. I'm just glad she's okay tonight.


Lisa B. said...

too much. surgery is too much, but running interference on the interpretation between what the doctor says and what the patient thinks...too much.

Johanna said...

It's all enough to make you crazy. She's pretty brave to face that at her age.