Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Diagnosis of my Obnoxious Heart - Surgery Adventure Part 1

On March 1st at around 2am, I was admitted at Toronto General Hospital. I was coughing pretty bad, had just fainted in my apartment, was having trouble breathing and had a ridiculously high heart rate (118 bpm at rest). Also, whenever I put my finger about 10cm below my collar bone, I could feel my heartbeat, or rather heart murmur. Instead of a regular "doop, doop, doop", I could feel an obnoxious "VROUP, VROUP, VROUP". I always had a heart murmur but it could never be heard without stethoscope. For any med/cardio student out there, I later learned it was a 5/6, meaning it could be heard with the stethoscope about 1cm away from my skin.

I had to wait hours for tests but the x-ray revealed some spots on my lungs. Doctors diagnosed a pneumonia and gave me Tamiflu and antibiotics while they tried to figure out if it was bacterial or viral infection. How in hell did I get pneumonia? I was worried I was starting a bronchitis, but that's skipping a step there! Oh well, lucky me. I was subject to a myriad of tests, many involving needles shoved down my arm as the nurse vainly tried to find my vein. Ha. Blood work had me begging for mercy every day. Apparently young girly skin is no good for finding your vein to prick a needle in it and get 3 tubes of blood. Then they gave me an intravenous blood thinner… in my belly! That was the most painful injection of my life.

On March 2nd, all sorts of cardio people came to listen to my heart and ask me to recount my story all over again. Then they spoke cardiologese before saying "We'll discuss it and we'll be back". A bunch of newbies and students also came in for "educational purposes". In fact, it seems the entire cardiology team must have dropped by at some point. I joked about charging $500 per person for the "educational value". Man I'd be rich by now. I felt like I was in an episode of House M.D. My case was "interesting" and no one had a definite idea of what the heck was going on with me. Suddenly (Finally), they were focusing on that weird "vroup vroup" instead of the pneumonia.

I was moved to the Coronary ICU during the night. There, they cut off my horrible yellow wristband for a shiny plastic blue one. I told my nurse Kim that it looked better anyway. They were so nice and fun there. She asked me if I wanted a radio and when she couldn't find one, she brought me a small flat-screen TV with a DVD player, for free! How awesome is THAT.

On March 3rd, after a test involving a tube down my throat, they finally knew that the spots on my lungs in the x-ray were not signs of pneumonia. They were actually fluid accumulating in there due to my heart murmur problem. Turns out the little 3mm hole in my heart dilated "somehow" and became the size of a dime. That caused blood to flow in places it wasn't supposed to, and my right ventricle pressure was about 70 when the normal range is 30-40. Surgery was the only option. Dr Ralph-Edwards came to announce their findings to me. He said he wanted to perform the operation the next day. I was cool with that.

Strangely enough, I was very calm and even chipper throughout this whole thing. I was joking with the doctors and wasn't really scared or panicked when they announced surgery. As I expected, my close friends and relatives started to freak out when I told them what was going on. I tried to reassure them, telling them it's okay, I'm not scared, it's gonna be fine, don't worry. It seemed to have worked, but I'm not sure if they were just faking it so I don't worry about them. I personally felt that, at TGH, they had the best team I could possibly get and I trusted their experience. In my mind, this was mere routine for them. Dunno if it's true but who cares. The last thing you want on your mind when you're not healthy is more worry. For all I knew, the next day, I'd have a heart healthier than it has ever been :)

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