On July 24, Tom had a cardiac ablation to correct a heart arrhythmia and a steadily falling ejection fraction. The ablation was intended to burn out nodes in his heart that were generating errant electrical impulses, and so, causing the heart to dance to all sorts of odd rhythms. The procedure took 4-1/2 hours. When the catheters (3 of them) were removed from his artery and veins, the expectation was that it would take 25 minutes of a nurse applying pressure on the wounds to stop the bleeding. Instead, it took more than an hour. However, things did finally calm down, and after a 13-hour day, T and I were able to bring him home. He had orders to take it easy for a few days, and limitations on any heavy lifting, but otherwise the only thing we really needed to do was let him rest and regain his strength.
By Wednesday, he was feeling pretty good. He had a talk that he was scheduled to give that evening, and so, at about 1:00 PM, he was sitting at the dining table and going over his material for the presentation. He coughed. Once. No big deal. Just a cough. He felt something go "pop" in his groin, in the vicinity of the incisions from the ablation. Immediately, he complained of a sharp pain at that site. He sat there for a few minutes, believing it would probably just go away. But, of course, because we never do these medical things without complications, it didn't. Go away. After a few minutes, I helped him into the bedroom, got his jeans pulled off, and took a look. There was a scary looking bulge there in his groin. It was about an inch and a half long, and about a half of an inch wide. No blood, but scary just the same. We called the cardiologist's office, and were told to go straight to the emergency room.
I grabbed a bag, tossed in a few things, poured him a fresh coffee, and we took off. Because everything always happens in a fashion to create maximum challenge, T was tied up on a jury all week.
We made the drive to the hospital in about 15 minutes, and walked into the emergency room, where people were lined up, practically out the door. It was chaos. We got him into a wheelchair, got him checked in, and began the long, long, long wait. Emergency rooms are never comfortable places to wait. Never. We arrived at about 1 PM. It was about 4:00 when they diagnosed a pseudoaneurysm with an AV fistula. We called and cancelled his talk, and prepared to get him admitted. It was 9:30 when they finally came to get him to move him to a room, which was, mercifully private.
Actually, as hospital rooms go, this one was pretty nice with even a small sofa that converted into a sort of a bed. And so we settled in to wait for the next day and the tests that would determine if he needed an angiogram, or perhaps a thrombin injection to coagulate the aneurysm, or (worst case) surgery to repair it. It was a long, worried, sleepless night. We were up early the next morning. Might as well, neither of us were sleeping much. Waiting was the watchword for the day. Wait to see the doctor. Wait to get the diagnostic ultrasound that was needed. Wait for them to read the ultrasound. Wait to find out what they would do. No comfortable place to sit. Hospital food. And the room was chilly. Really chilly. And, for reasons that I will never, ever understand, the hospital pharmacy could not get his medications right. Even though we travel with a detailed list of everything he takes and WHY he takes it. Trying to give him stuff he doesn't take, while refusing to give him the things he does take and needs to have. Eventually, I came home, and packed up his medications here, and took them back with me. The nurses fuss about that. They really don't like patients taking their own medications, but tough. No choice as far as I could tell.
Finally, we heard at noon, that they would do the thrombin injection. In half an hour. Yay! Yikes! Deep tissue injection guided by ultrasound imaging. A very precise, very technical, amazing procedure. Even with some lidocaine to help numb the area, he said it was an intense experience.
Then. More waiting. More uncomfortable furniture. More marginal food. More chilly temperatures. Long, long, long day. T got done with the day's work on the jury and drove down to sit with us for an hour or so. Then, to bed. We both slept some better. Although, of course, one has to deal with all the hospital personnel that NEED whatever they think they need at midnight, and 2AM, and 3 AM, and 5 AM...
Another ultrasound this morning showed that the thrombin worked. The aneurysm was whatever it was they wanted it to be. Not sure what the actual description might be. But good. Perfect in fact. The vascular surgeons were quite happy, and at 9:00 this morning, they told us we were good to go. Yay! If only it were that easy. Hospital hierarchy and general nonsense kept us sitting there until 3PM. Only then did we finally get them to remove the IV, hand over the discharge papers, and summon a wheelchair to transport him out of there. I took off to go get the car, brought it around to the front, loaded him in, and we headed home.
Tonight, we are all home. The jury finished the case this morning. The hospital stay is ended. Our little places seem comfortable and cozy and welcoming. We've all had a real shower and a decent meal. The cats are starting to calm down. Maybe now, we can just settle down, let him heal up, and enjoy the rest of this rapidly vanishing summer.