Tag Archives: St Georges

The Day Of Reckoning

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.

PFO closure

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…..

Gore Septal Occluders

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! 🙂


As Liz has her operation booked in for next Thursday, we had a pre-op discussion planed for today.

Or so we thought.

When we originally spoke to David Ward in the Royal Surrey a month or more back he said that they do the PFO closure operations in ‘batches’. Presumably this make sense not only economically, as the overheads with having the right equipment and staff available are less, but the risk aspects are also minimised by carrying out repetitive procedures which staff will be familiar with. He also said that they carry them out on a Thursday towards the end of the month and that Liz would be booked in for either April or May.

St Georges, London

A few weeks back, as the end of April was approaching and we still had no date for the procedure, Liz phone to discuss with the admission people at St George’s, at which point they confirmed, as we had begun to suspect, that the end of May was a more likely candidate. The gent she spoke to said she was on the system and booked in for the procedure on the 24 May and that the pre-op would be the 18 May, to do ECG and blood pressure, and discuss the finer detail of the procedure with the consultant. He said he would follow up with paperwork

Some weeks after the call, Liz had searched for the paperwork, but couldn’t find it and we assumed we had lost it.

So this morning we duly travelled up to just past Wimbledon, leaving at around 8:30 as our friend Natasha was kindly taking the children to school. The journey was on the whole quite simple, but I took a wrong turn at one point, or rather I didn’t turn off the A3 soon enough. Still, on this occasion there was no stress as we had plenty of time, so the dress rehearsal, was not to be entirely wasted.

We found our way to the hospital, and the right annex, in plenty of time and even afforded ourselves the luxury of a coffee before going to the appointment.

When we arrived at reception though, we were met with blank faces.

There was a predictable rushing around of staff trying to determine what had happened to our 10:00am appointment booking, and we suddenly found ourselves not in a pre-op clinic, but the administration room where the booking should originally have been registered.

I have to say, and I’m sure Liz would agree, they were very helpful, apologetic and caring all at the same time; Liz’s worst case expectation was that she would have to wait for another month, but they explained that would not be the case as she was still booked in for the 24th May.

In the end they said they would carry out the checks on the morning of the procedure, so the journey ended up being predominantly to find the place and see what the traffic was like.

Not a very auspicious start to the whole process, but a start, nonetheless.

Operation Date

Another quiet and pretty normal day.

Liz made oat waffles for us this morning as we are trying to get back into a term-time routine for a few weeks, at least until her operation, which we have now had confirmed dates for, so at least that is positive; 18 May for pre-op checks and 24 May for the actual operation.  Colleen has said she will come down to help, but there is still a lot of unknowns around this whole thing, although it appear she is unlikely to be in hospital (St George’s, London) for more than a day – she was actually informed that if she is first in the ‘morning batch’ she may well be allowed home the same day, which is absolutely incredible.

Operation Date

So many people have offered to help already, and I have no doubt they will continue to offer, so I’ll be baking lots more goodies in thanks for all the assistance to come. Some of the most recent batch of ‘treats’ went out today, and they have been ‘well’ received 🙂

The Boys have Judo on a Tuesday, so it is always busy for Liz, but she had asked Cecilia to take the children to school in the morning, so she rested for a bit after midday.

I on the other hand only had interviews, pre-project and team meetings to contend with, and even managed to fit in some cross training (cycling) and physio exercises at lunchtime.

Nevertheless, my life is still physically easier than looking after 4 children, irrespecive of how many calories I rack up during a day!