Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CABG surgery plus two days

My wedding ring had been taped on pre-operatively. I didn’t know who’d removed it. Or why. And, more importantly, I didn’t know where it was. At this critical time, when I needed to feel so connected to Sweethert Vivienne, the absence of my wedding ring seemed a major portent. But with two lower chest draintubes, arterial or venous lines in my left neck and right elbow and left groin, an indwelling urinary catheter, long scars over my midline chest and front of left forearm, heart pacing wires coming from my chest, 12 leads taped to my skin for heart monitoring, and doped up with strong medications I was clearly unable to engage in any wedding ring detective work. That would have to wait for later. By lunchtime Wednesday – 20 hours since I regained consciousness (or at least sustained memory of it), I was ready to be moved from the 7th floor ICU to the 5th floor cardiac surgery ward. The transfer occurred about mid-day. Just after I presented the ICU staff with a ‘thank you’ bag of Haigh’s Chocolates [1]. A few hours laterWednesday mid-eveningI, my bed, the ward, and even the hospital, began to shake. Violently. Irregularly. And they didn’t stop. It turned out I’d developed an irregular heart beat, called atrial fibrillation [AF]. It’s a known complication of CABG surgery, occurring in 40-60% of cases, and due to heart swelling during the surgery. It resulted in my immediate transfer back up to the ICU. It took a while to be controlled. My heart rate was over 200 per minute for over two hours. Eventually it settled. Everything stopped shaking. And my anxiety dissolved away.

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