My last angioplasty from March seemed to hold up pretty well but regardless of how much or what type of intervention is done, the fatigue never seems to go away. As the months went on, more intense symptoms returned just in time for all of my follow up appointments…starting with my pulmonologist .
Can you guess how I did with my pulmonary functioning tests?? Yep! Results were lower than last time but as we continued to discuss my symptoms, my doctor’s focus turned to my heart. We reviewed my history of exams and angioplasties and I informed him that I was supposed to see my cardiologist in a couple of days but might need to reschedule due to my kids starting their golf program. He smiled and said he understood kids take priority, especially golf and agreed he would like to visit with my cardiologist first so we pushed my heart appointment back a few weeks.
In the meantime he ordered an oximetry test for me to have done at home…
which did not interfere with me getting my kids to their golf lessons…
As long as my levels did not drop below 87 for 5 minutes I would not need supplemental oxygen and my oximetry results showed that my oxygen dropped for 4 minutes and 20 seconds!! Barely passed by on that one!!🤪
When I followed up with my cardiologist, a physical exam concluded that my jugular veins were distended so more tests were scheduled to be done later in the month to determine whether my pulmonary arterial hypertension and congestive heart failure was progressing.
In between seeing my cardiologist and the upcoming tests…I had angioplasty!
Unfortunately Tim could not be back with me before my procedure so I kept him updated through messages. I’m not sure who was more excited when I texted him that two of my favorite nurses who have been with me since this all began were caring for me! What a sweet comfort the Lord provided for my 30th angioplasty!!
Once back on the operating table, the nurses and techs made small talk as they began to prep me. As usual, they mentioned how I could probably tell them more about this procedure than they could but I pointed out every time I come to Iowa City, there always seems to be something a little different. And as if on cue, the tech then told the nurse they were doing the “starfish” prep. I had never heard that expression so I asked what that meant and she explained they were prepping four areas…both sides of my groin and both arms as there was a chance the doctor might need to use four different access points for this procedure. He hadn’t accessed my arms in a couple of years so why now? Why prep both arms AND both sides of the groin? The nurse began to administer meds to me and while I could not feel any pain, I was pretty jittery and talkative as they continued through the procedure. She joked how I must do this way too often to be used to all of the medicine so she gave me some Benadryl and that is all I remember. I later informed her that I can’t take Benadryl at home because it makes me too sleepy!
My SVC stents ended up being 80-90% narrowed so my interventional radiologist was able to open them back up to around 80%. And the whole point of doing a “starfish” prep was due to him knowing my jugular veins were narrowing so he would possibly be intervening. He did end up doing balloon angioplasty to open the jugular veins back up to about 70% and thankfully he was able to access all of the areas through only one side of my groin!
We were so grateful that all went smoothly and Tim and I were on our way home in no time!
Another big praise is that I am scheduled for a cta scan in four months to see how my stents and jugular veins are holding up…opposed to just scheduling another angioplasty!!
My recovery has gone well and each day brings a little more relief…minus that dang fatigue but I think that is just one symptom I will have to always deal with.
With my husband’s birthday also being the weekend of my angioplasty, we decided to take a quick little road trip up to Michigan in our old 1999 dodge van we converted in to a campervan haha! I must say though, as much grief as I got about leaving town within a couple of days after my procedure, I think it was the best recovery I’ve had since doing these procedures! I got to lay in the back with my feet kicked up…
and the kids knew meals were whatever they could make in the microwave or whatever dad was cooking on the grill…
And as far as this being my 30th angioplasty and Tim saying he would take me wherever I want to go…I am just happy to be doing what we are doing while I still can!! Someday we will get to Alaska or do our big road trip out west but for now we are able to take little weekend trips here and there or have simple campfires in our backyard. We have been to Charleston, Alabama, the Smoky Mountains, local parks, bike trails and all of the kids events in the last few months!! God has definitely provided beyond what we could have ever imagined for ourselves!!
Life is hard whether it’s medical, financial, relationships or all of the above! But I always said from the beginning when I was diagnosed with fibrosing mediastinitis in 2002, from when I got my first set of SVC stents in 2007, from when I was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension and congestive heart failure in 2015 and got stents in my pulmonary arteries…before 30 angioplasties…I am going through all of it so that I can continue to live this life the Lord has called me to live! Am I usually in pain? Yes! Am I overwhelmed and tired from the health junk? Absolutely!!! Do I stop enjoying life and sit on the sidelines?? No way, at least not until my body won’t allow it!
I still have frustration over what this disease has taken and continues to take from me physically but that’s just one aspect of my life. The Lord has been so kind to me not just with all of the good stuff, but with the hard stuff as well and I am extremely grateful that He continues to give me opportunities where I can lean in to Him and be an example of His loving mercy and Grace.
Thanks to all of you for your support! The Lord has provided so much comfort through your prayers and messages of encouragement to me over the years! I truly appreciate all of you!!