Until recently, I was not familiar with the procedure or term cardio cath. And after my recent heart scare I unfortunately had the opportunity to witness this up close. It is basically a ‘simple’ procedure carried out by a surgeon, where he/she examines how well the heart is working. They explore the workings, arteries, muscles and chambers for any potential issues.
Assuming they find some minor issues that can be addressed with a stent or balloon, they simply insert these devices during the process. It is a very common and safe procedure, although it freaks me out.
The surgeon insert an IV like needle into the major artery in the wrist or groin, insert a tiny ‘wire’ and gently pushes it to the heart through the artery until they reach the heart. Once at the heart, the ‘wire’ squirts some liquid into the heart, and that allows the surgeon to see that on an x-ray device, and they can explore the mechanics of the heart.
This is something out of the 80’s movie innerspace, when they insert small people into a person’s body. It is absolutely amazing what they can do in science.
So, the time had come for me to get the cardio cath procedure and to put it mildly, I was scared shitless. It may well be a common and routine exercise for the medical team, but for me this was surgery and my mind does not like surgery.
I was dressed in the mandatory hospital gown, with no back, was asked to go commando. Being viking I happily obliged and dropped my undies. Next 30 mins were spent talking to my wife, while nurses calmly explained to me what was about to happen. Although it sounded simple, I was still rather anxious about this whole experience.
One nurse informed me that she would have to shave my groin area. As I had not done so since puberty started, I reminded her to bring the big clippers. It may be wild down there, so no old school razor please. She pulled out a mini sheep clipper which did the trick perfectly. Smooth like a baby’s bottom.
As they rolled me off, I hugged my wife and kissed her. I passed the double doors to the surgery hallway and the nurses asked me to jump on to another gurney. Well knowing my butt would create a white lightning in the hallway, and jokingly said “ready for a white moon rising”. All nurses laughed 🙂
Happy drugs was added to my IV, and a sense of calmness ensued. I was not knocked out, but in a good place mentally.
Suddenly music came through the room and the surgeon arrived. It was a surreal moment and reminded me of when a concert is about to start or when the famous players enter the pitch. I smiled to the surgeon and gave thumbs up for his selection of music.
He briefly explained the next steps which included local numbing injections. Nurses worked my groin area with disinfecting stuff and trimmed a little more. Then they placed a sumo wrestling towel over my manhood. To be honest, I ad so many women working in that area, but my manhood was completely subdued and did not cause any embarrassment.
The local numbing was not calming and did indeed feel rather uncomfortable. After a few minutes, letting the numbing stuff work, the surgeon slapped my groin and said ‘ready?’. Can you ever be ready for this?
He shared that I would feel a little pinch as he inserted the larger IV into my main artery. It was NOT a little pinch. That bloody hurt and I cursed the drugs for not working, or at least not being stronger – but it only lasted less than a minute.
The next 15-20 minutes was strange. I could feel the surgeon doing stuff and his arm moments at times felt as if he was pulling / pushing something around. Nothing hurt and nothing felt weird on the inside. But, he was inserting the long ‘wire into the IV thing and working his way to my heart.
Suddenly he slapped my groin again and said “all done!”. The nurse placed her hand firmly on the groin area to make sure that any bleeding from this rather important artery would not happen.
Surgeon happily stated that heart looks good, no blockage and broadly good heart … with the exception of my enlarged left heart muscle. But, it was good news in a sense, and no stents were needed. Now I “just” need to recover and let my heart heal.
They rolled me back to my room in ICU. I hugged and kissed my wife again. Only challenge now, is to lie flat, and not move my right leg for the next 6 hours. This is to ensure that the groin area does not start bleeding, which could be fatal!
I was so happy it was over. It was my first time ever in surgery, and hopefully last time.
My dear old friend,
I was shocked and very struck by this turn of events in your life. You are indeed a big and brave man to write about this chapter in your life with such emotion and openness. I have only your words to guide me as to how you and your family must be feeling, for I couldn’t possible imagine not would I pretend to. It must be quite the show stopper to face one’s own mortality like this.
You are in my prayers Mikkel. Get well soon my friend and please take good care of yourself.