Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Heart Lessons

By now, I really ought to know more about heart anatomy. I've sat there too many times now as the cardiologist explained what just happened during my husband's latest procedure. My typical response is a slight tilt of the head, some "Yes" and "Of course" answers, accompanied by much head nodding. The goal is that I nod my head at all the right moments, and that I remember what in the world the doctor is talking about so I can repeat it later to my husband who knows exactly what the doctor is talking about.

The latest procedure in July was going to be different. First, it wasn't an emergency. I could actually do my hair, wear nice clothes and not look like a weepy hot mess while I sat there nodding. Second, I could upload some pictures onto my iPad and whip them out when the doctor started getting all technical. Then I could nod and interject phrases such as "Ah, yes, the good ol' Anterior inter-ventricular artery" and "My oh my, if it isn't that cocky Superior vena cava, such an attitude with that one!" 

I didn't need to nod, I barely needed to have a good hair day. Ernst was so alert after his angioplasty, he went over the videos of his surgery with the doctor mere minutes after coming into the recovery room. They threw around the fancy medical terms and they rehashed what happened, as my iPad photos sat useless. 

So what happened? The team at Kaiser Roseville put another stent in an area that started giving Ernst trouble in June. What kind of trouble? Well, after my husband attempted gargle singing at a gathering, choked on the water he inhaled and practically coughed up a lung, he started feeling poorly the next day. And according to the good doctor, yes indeed, it's possible to dislodge an old plaque in your heart by a coughing fit brought on by gargle singing. Good to know.

What the doctor didn't do is try to fix the part of the heart they thought was giving him the latest symptoms of angina. That section is completely clogged up with scar tissue from his past surgeries. But his heart has built collateral arteries to keep things sufficiently oxygenated. All his other stents are clean and clear. They said to keep up the plant-based diet. Good to know.

The mascot for Team Collateral Arteries.
Go Collaterals, go!