Sunday, April 29, 2012

How Amazing is the Human Body?

On the 17th I had my Heart Cath. I remember my doctor coming to see me in recovery and telling me that he did not need to place a stent where my original Blalock-Taussig Shunt. There was no narrowing! I remember him telling me that the area that my Pulmonary Valve should be expanded too much for me to be able to receive a Melody Valve. We had hoped it might be an option because the procedure is much less invasive. I remember that he said something about other vessels, and he did "something" and "something" else. Hmmmmm. Versed. A wonderful drug. Just don't expect to remember everything after a surgery.

That evening, right before discharge, I noticed my back hurt pretty bad. I figured it was from laying on the not so comfy OR table with my arms above my head. The next day I thought it might be muscle pain from laying flat on my back but lifting my head up so I could talk to Jim and Mike. The next day after that I noticed it was more between my left shoulder blade and my spine. Did I call the doctor? Of course not. Being a good nurse I knew my pulse and blood pressure were good, I wasn't short of breath, my nails were pink, so it wasn't my heart.

Over the weekend it really wasn't much better so I reached out to fellow CHDers who both were Cardiac RNs. I have the right friends! Liz said it sounded like ablation pain. I don't remember the doc saying anything about ablation, but sure that makes sense, sort of. Mike said he thought the doctor said something about collateral circulation and it may have to do with that. Maybe that's what the doctor said. Sure, why not.

I could feel two, and sometimes, three distinct spots that it felt like the origin of the pain. I tried to explain it to the doctor on call. Of course it wasn't be my doctor that did the procedure. I reassured him that I was not in cardiac distress and my vitals were good. I didn't need to go to the ER. It was just pain. He suggested I take a boat load of ibuprofen and to call if no improvement. The higher dose did help.

In the morning I got a call from my doctor's office and to come see him the next day. When I saw him, he listened, checked everything. I asked him to explain the things from the heart cath to me again since I wasn't on any good drugs. When he got to the part about the coils he placed in the collateral vessels coming off my aorta I said "WHOA, that's the part I missed." So he got out his pen and drew on the examine table paper where these  vessels were and the coils he placed. He then explained that my body had grown these vessels from my aorta to my left lung. My body was compensating to get more blood to my lungs. He assured me that I will have adequate blood flow to my lungs for right now without them. He said they do this to prevent bleeding during Open Hear Surgery. These collateral vessels have a tendency to cause a lot of bleeding.

I told him that I had massive bleeding problem in my second surgery when I was 16. He looked and me and smiled. He said "Well, you were a pioneer." In 15 years my body had grown these vessels to compensate for my less than perfect heart. These vessels gave me more oxygen so I could function normal as I could. They served me well, but they also almost did me in.

He placed his hand on my back and said this is about were these vessels would be. It was the exact locations of the pain. I am amazed by two things. One, that the body has this incredible capacity to do this. I picture a meeting of the vital organs, someone comes up with the great idea of "Let's grow some vessels from the aorta to the lung and get her some more O2 going on in here." Two, that I am in the hands of such an incredible doctor that did something to prevent a possible complication of my upcoming surgery. 


  1. What an awesome new Dr you have! And an awesome fighter of a heart.

  2. How will I keep up with you now?