Until recently, I was not familiar with the procedure or term “cardio cath”. After my recent heart scare, I, unfortunately, had the opportunity to experience this procedure up close and personal. Probably too close.
Cardio cath 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 … from the inside with a tiny wire.
If they find some minor issues that can be addressed with a stent or balloon, they simply insert these devices during the same process. This avoids any surgery and the patient will feel amazing afterward. It is a very common and safe procedure, so I heard. Nevertheless, it freaks me out to even think and write about it.
The Cardio Cath Process
The surgeon inserts an IV like needle into the major artery in the wrist or groin and a tiny ‘wire’ is gently pushed through the artery to the heart. Once at the heart, the ‘wire’ squirts some liquid into the heart that allows the surgeon to see the workings and passages of the heart on a large plasma/LED screen, where they can explore the mechanics of the heart.
It is like 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 today.
Enough about the introduction and process, let’s get on to the highlight of this story 🙂
The time had come for me to undergo 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 got dressed in the mandatory wonderfully revealing hospital gown, with no back. I was ordered by the oversized Eastern European discos thrower to go commando. Being a Viking I happily obliged and dropped my skivvies. The next 30 mins were spent talking to my wife, while nurses calmly explained to me what was about to happen. It sounded simple, but I was rather anxious about this whole experience. To be truthful, I wept a little despite being promised happy drugs.
One nurse informed me that she would have to shave my groin area. I had not done so since puberty started and calmly reminded her to bring the big sheep clippers. It may be wild down there, so no old school razor, alright? She pulled out a mini sheep clipper which did the trick perfectly. I was 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 white lightning in the hallway, I jokingly uttered: “ready for a white moon rising“. All the nurses laughed 🙂
Happy drugs were added to my IV and a sense of calmness ensued. I was not knocked out but in a good place mentally. You know, small unicorns, flying magic dragons and not many concerns about what was coming.
Suddenly music came through the room and the surgeon arrived. It was a surreal moment! It 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 on my groin area with disinfecting stuff and trimmed a little more. They placed a sumo wrestling towel over my manhood. I had so many women working in that area and thankfully my manhood was completely subdued and did not cause any embarrassment.
The local numbing was not calming and was rather uncomfortable. Much more than just a “little pinch” as they had promised. My face betrayed me as I was putting an uncomfortable grimace.
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 did elude that I would feel a little pinch as he inserted the larger IV into my main artery. It was NOT a little pinch. That fecker bloody hurt and I cursed the drugs for not working, or at least for not being stronger – but it lasted less than a minute. During that minute, I’m telling ya, a small unicorn came up close and smiled at me while licking a small pink flower.
The next 15-20 minutes were strange. I could feel the surgeon doing stuff. His arms felt at times as if he was pulling/pushing something around in my groin. Nothing hurt and nothing felt weird on the inside. But I knew 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!”. I really wish he wouldn’t slap my groin. It wasn’t really a manly high five, but ok. The nurse placed her hand firmly on the groin area to make sure that any bleeding from this rather important artery would not happen.
If you’ve seen Band of Brothers, you would remember that Hoobler died from a self-inflicted wound in his leg that hit the main artery … he bled to death. Not my plan at this point, and not sure why I even thought of Hoobler while lying there butt naked.
The surgeon happily stated that my heart looks good. No blockage and a good heart … with the exception of my enlarged left heart muscle of course. It was good news in a sense, and no stents were needed. Now I “just” needed to recover and let my heart heal.
They rolled me back to my room in ICU. I hugged and kissed my wife again. The only challenge now was to lie flat, and not move my right leg for the next 6 hours. This was to ensure that the groin area would not start to bleed, which could be fatal! Everything is so dangerous in hospital 🙂
I was so happy it was over. It was my first time ever in surgery and hopefully last time.