The Heart Cath: Learning from the mistakes of others
Saturday, August 25, 2012
I'm currently in the stage of life where I'm taking care of my parents and my children. There are days when I'm so exhausted from fighting with all of them that I don't know what to do with myself. I have learned many valuable lessons from my charges, but none so valuable as being with my dad on Thursday.
In June, we marked 6 years since my father's health problems took a turn for the worse. He had to be transported to the ER because he was having a lot of difficulty breathing, and they admitted him for pneumonia. The next day, we were visiting him, and he went into cardiac arrest. I hit the call button, but no one came. My husband performed chest compressions while I ran down the hall screaming for help and threatening lawsuits. (I was very pregnant ... and VERY scared. Never a good combo!) This started a 17-week hospitalization. Cardiac arrest, kidney failure, COPD, etc etc etc etc. Since that time, he has been hospitalized at least twice a year every year. He will start to feel better, stop taking his medications, decide the doctors are cracked and he knows better than them, health will start to decline, he'll battle depression, beg to die, feel even worse, call 911, and back to the hospital we go, where the cycle will renew.
He hasn't been doing as bad this year, and he's been seeing his doctors regularly. He still denies that he has sleep apnea, and thinks the doctors are all just trying to milk more insurance money. *eyeroll* The cardiologist ordered a stress test last month and found that his heart is working quite well now, but there is a "shadow" near the heart that they need to take care of. So, they scheduled a heart catheterization for this past Thursday. If you don't know what a heart cath is ... they inject dye into your blood stream, and then thread a needle in through your femoral artery (the one in your thigh), up through to your heart. Then, they start checking all of your veins and arteries around your heart for blockage. If they see that one of them is blocked, they insert a stint or balloon up through the same spot in the femoral artery, into the blockage, and it opens the artery/vein up so that blood can flow freely again. If the stint/balloon isn't going to be enough because the blockage is so severe, they pull back out, and schedule a bi-pass.
We get him to the hospital for the cath, they prep him, and take him in. They position him to lie on his back on the table, and he stops breathing. So they sit him up, and he starts breathing again. (Please note, he didn't lose consciousness - just couldn't breathe. Like, choking on something. You know what's going on, there's just no air moving.) They laid him back down, stopped breathing, sat him back up, resumed breathing. They tried it a third time, this time, putting a 45* wedge under him, and he still stopped breathing. They called the doctor in, and the doctor decided that he probably has too much fluid in his lungs and wants to wait. They admitted him, started him on a diarrhetic to get the fluids off, and took a chest x-ray. Thanks to technology, you no longer have to wait 6 hours for film to be developed, but within seconds of the tech hitting the button, we could see his chest on the screen. The bottom parts of his lungs were filled so high with fluid, that you couldn't see the bottom 1/3 of his heart. *sigh* ... So, they're going to try the procedure again on Monday.
In the meantime, he's been speaking to pulmunologists about his lungs, and they're telling him there is something probably obstructive that is keeping him breathing correctly. This is the same thing that causes sleep apnea - even though he's been fighting us on that for years. Sleep apnea may not be the exact correct diagnosis, but if they had treated him for sleep apnea, it might have helped them get to the bottom of his respiratory issues years ago.
So now ... the great insight.
I'm exhausted. I'm tired of listening to him to whine and breathe and cough and yell at doctors and throw temper tantrums that rival all four of my children put together. I'm tired of him telling me that he appreciates everything that I do for him, and he's so very glad that I'm in charge of his healthcare .... and then turn around immediately and curse me out for telling him what to do. Watching him cycle through depression and anger and lethargy and determination is like watching a very bad movie. Stuck on repeat. It is maddening, and makes me cry and get angry.
By the time I was on the way home from the hospital late Thursday evening, I was so spent, I could barely think straight. Had to pick the kids up from a very dear friend who endeavored to keep the rowdy bunch all day, and Hubs and I realized we were starving. Out of habit, out of exhaustion, we went through the drive-thru at McIcky's - cheeseburger and fries. I woke up yesterday morning feeling oh so very stupid. Why in the world did I do that?? It wasn't on my diet, but way worse than that? It was exactly what my dad would have done. HOLY CRAP.
I am *coughcough* 35 years old. I am obese. I am unhealthy. And I am headed down the exact same path that has my dad in major trouble in the hospital right this very moment.
I stand today and absolutely refuse to go any further down that path. I don't want my kids to be stressed about taking care of me when I'm 70, and I don't want to be completely dependent upon medications and procedures. I want the rest of my days to be vibrant, healthy and fun. Yes, I'm still going to indulge on the McIcky's ... but oh so very seldom instead of the rule. I can stop doing damage to my bod, and even undo some of the damage done.