It’s been a busy month.
And a lot of people seem to be having quite a difficult month, myself included. When Prince died, I was reminded—as I was when David Bowie died—that we have much more in common than we often realize. I take comfort in that.
I posted back on March 30 that I had a bit of a scare with my eyes when I developed a “blob” at the top of my field of vision in my left eye. I saw Dr. Mines, the retina specialist, on April 8, and the good news is that the blob (he called it “cotton wool”) should resolve within a few more weeks. The sooner, the better, because it’s annoying as hell.
I had a bunch of tests—lots of pictures, including ones that required injecting me with dye—at Dr. Mines’ office. The results were not great. He saw some indications that the veins in my retinas were not doing as well as they could be. So, as both a treatment and as a preventative measure (to stop them getting worse), he gave me shots. In my eyeballs. There was a ton of anesthetic involved and Dr. Mines is very skilled (this wasn’t his first shorts-in-the-eyes rodeo!), but when the anesthetic wore off, as it does, it was incredibly uncomfortable.
Dr. Mines was hopeful that I won’t need these shots on an ongoing basis. So fingers crossed on that. The whole experience was unnerving (I cried) just because it wasn’t what I expected to have happen when I went in, but given this, it was as good as it could have been.
I saw Dr. Fradley last week. He was terrific—patient, kind, clear, and thorough. He explained the pros and cons of the different ICD options, and showed us the one he’ll be using so I could see the size, shape, and weight of it. He also detailed the risks involved in the procedure. They’re frightening, but also quite rare.
The ICD procedure is scheduled for the morning of May 9. He’ll be implanting a Medtronic single-chamber ICD. Here’s a diagram of how it’s implanted:
The ICD serves two purposes: The most obvious is that should my heart stop (sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA), it will shock it to get it started again. The less obvious (or it was to me anyhow, before Dr. Fradley explained it), but hugely beneficial, is that it can deliver a modified shock when my heart goes into a dangerous rhythm to prevent SCA.
ICDs are sophisticated and complicated devices, and there are far more options available that I would have thought! As I understand it, the single-chamber means that it has one (instead of multiple) leads (wires) running into the heart. I don’t need multiple ones because of the nature of my condition. From what I’ve read, dual-chamber ICDs are often used even when they’re not necessary, and I’m thrilled that Dr. Fradley is choosing an option based on my specific needs.
The device will be implanted on my left side, just below the collar bone. Because I’m small, it will stick out some, and I’ll have a scar, but I’m confident that Dr. Fradley will keep everything as clean as possible. I don’t mind scars, but I’ve seen some photos that make me think some surgeons just don’t even try very hard.
On May 9, I have to get to the hospital early (7:30!), and the procedure is scheduled for 9:30. I can’t eat or drink anything from midnight the night before, and can’t take my insulin the morning of (which makes sense; it’s easier for the hospital to manage high blood sugar than low). I’ll spend the night in the hospital on the 9th, and assuming all goes well, go home on the 10th.
I won’t be able to shower properly (the incision can’t get wet) for a week. I’ve investigated dry shampoo, but I’m skeptical about it. Hubs has offered to wash my hair for me…he’s great at engineering stuff like this, so I’m sure we’ll figure it out. I won’t be able to raise my left arm above the shoulder for six weeks, and so we’ll make some accommodations for that, primarily moving the microwave from its perch on top of the fridge. I’m a little worried about this because I sometimes wake up with my arm above my head, so I’ll need to ask about that.
Aside from the fact that he clearly knows his onions, I’ve always had a thing about surgeons’ hands, and Dr. Fradley’s seem ideal to me. He has long, graceful fingers.
I said when I started that this has been a difficult month. I have found myself scared and angry and frustrated a fair bit. It will pass, I know, but in the moment, it can be hard. Here’s to a good May for us all!
Thank you for reading, and always for your support.