The day had arrived.
Coleen had very kindly offered to come down from Wales and help with the children during Liz’s procedure to close her PFO, or patent foramen ovale, aka ‘hole in the heart’, so we said our goodbyes to our kindly saint before getting on our way – thanks Col; you’re a star!
The travel to St. George’s Hospital in Tooting at 6:15 in the morning was easier than we had anticipated, so we arrived just after 7:00 o’clock. The ward was not yet open, and unfortunately neither was the coffee shop (bad planning on their part, as I’m sure they could make a killing from people arriving early for their day ops!)
Anyway, marketing opportunities aside, we reported to the Belgrave Ward where we had a momentary scare when they said we were ‘not on the list’ but we were quickly restored to ‘A-list’ authorised to proceed status, after they found an ‘updated’ schedule’.
However, we still had to wait.
They had a day room with comfy chairs, but because they are refurbishing the kitchen next door, all the white goods seemed to have migrated to the day room, so we sat for some time staring at a couple of fridges, while the ward porridge was warmed up in the microwave. A bizarre start to the day. Still, after impromptu repairs to the television (aerial and source problem!) we were sufficiently distracted and were called just before 9:00 for pre-op checks.
Liz has always had trouble when giving blood, seemingly irrespective of the experience and prowess of the medical staff. Today was to be no different. The nurse, struggled apologetically for some minutes with the veins in her wrists, which she ultimately declared as having swelled up as no blood was forthcoming. Eventually a successful insertion of the cannula, just to take blood, was managed in Liz’s right elbow.
The increasingly apprehensive patient was moved to bed 4 on the ward and after a touch more waiting, and a few more normal tests, she was whisked off. That was about 10:30.
And so the medical science was left in the hands of the miracle workers…..
Left on my own for a couple of hours I visited the coffee shop again and updated a few bits and pieces of my training plan and records, but before I knew it a groggy Liz was being wheeled back into the ward. She had apparently been ‘conscious’ for the last 30 mins or so having come round about 11:45.
The whole process, from application of the anaesthetic, insertion of the cannula sheath for the catheter and trans-oesophageal echo equipment for the ‘camera’, the actual insertion of the device (which apparently takes 20 minutes, and the revival from the anaesthetic only took 1 hour 10 minutes. The device which has been inserted is known as a Gore septal occluder.
The rest of the day was spend with Liz resting and drifting in and out of her world of drowsiness, during a succession of post-op ECGs, blood pressure and stats monitoring and finally the removal of the cannula ‘sheath’ from the femoral vein – a procedure which itself involved successive reduction of the pressure applied to the puncture in the leg, after extraction of the needle, but which luckily no longer requires the nurses to apply said pressure manually, as it was in days of old. Ironically, this process took longer than the procedure to insert the device in the first place!
As I write this, we have just heard that Liz will be allowed home! 🙂