10/3/2013 11:49 AM
By Kelly Deeny
"There's a problem. You had an abnormal EKG." Those are words a congenital heart patient never wants to hear. Yet, that's exactly what happened to me about a month ago.
I had minor surgery at the end of August, one that involved the possibility of blood loss. As is standard procedure, I went for pre-admission testing a week beforehand. I actually made sure to mention that I was a heart patient, and they specifically did an EKG on me to be on the safe side. The following day I got the call that I had a right bundle branch block and that I needed to get approved by my cardiologist in order to have the surgery.
My hands were shaking, my nerves shot and my heart racing—which in retrospect was not helpful to my heart health! At the time, I knew nothing about this branch block thingy. To my knowledge all my EKGs within the past 20-30 years have been normal. So, when I heard "abnormal EKG," my mind raced with worry.
Turns out that this is something common to have and I just need to follow-up every year with my cardiologist and to have an echo within the year. When I went in for the surgery, my doctor made sure to inform me that if my heart did not like that I would be in a slanted position, they would have to stop and use an alternate method—one that likely would cause a more substantial recovery period.
Fortunately, when I woke up the scars were as expected—minimal and non-invasive. The only noticeable issue? I kept complaining that my chest hurt after I woke up. It felt like the scar over my sternum was being pulled from both directions. "It hurts," I told the nurses. "The incisions?" "No, my chest." It apparently was not cause for concern and the pain eventually subsided. (Thank goodness for sugar water!) Perhaps it was leftover worry from the week prior.
I'm fortunate that the surgery went as expected and that I am healing well. Now, I just have to remind myself that I have been luckier than most other CHDers. My VSD was repaired over 35 years ago and I've had minimal issues—until now.
Have you encountered results that threw you into a tizzy? How did you deal with the information?
A graduate of Temple University's English program, Kelly Deeny recently completed book one in her juvenile fiction series. Using various forms of the creative arts, Kelly seeks to heal the emotional and spiritual scars that remain from her 1979 open heart surgery. While her ventricular septal defect was repaired and no physical limitations remain, she's just recently realized how vital the arts are to her healing process. Visit Kelly’s website by clicking here.
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