Scar Trek (or, Scar Wars – I couldn’t decide)
Here’s a detailed description of the various procedures I’ve had these last few months. It’s hard to remember what all they did and this is to keep track. Some procedures were definitely more invasive and painful than others, but that’s all in the past and I’m pretty much living in the moment now. If you really want to see the actual scars, click on this link
and you can see with the shirt off. It’s not sexy, but not gross either as most have healed up really well. Once my chest hair grows back most of these won’t be too obvious anyway.
1. Angiogram – Probe through a leg vein to the heart to determine pulse issues
2. Aortic valve replacement – required open heart surgery which included cutting the rib cage in half to gain access. To repair the aortic stenosis (calcification) most likely due to genetics. 85% blocked, according to the doc.
3. Double bypass (at the same time) – To repair the weakened parts of the heart due to the stenosis and cholesterol buildup.
4. Vein extraction – Used a “spare” vein from the leg to incorporate into the double bypass.
5. Drain holes (3) – One for each lung and the pleura (chest lining). Usually done after a major heart surgery.
6. Several IVs, blood draws, and ports to withdraw and deliver fluids. Blood draw about 4x a day for 11 days. Many more since then. One of my least favorite procedures.
7. Emergency injection site for code (twice) – bradycardia – heart stoppage due to weakness of the muscle now being used as it should.
8. Angiogram 2 – Send probe through other leg to check heart rate and strength again.
9. Pacemaker – Operation to add this after coding twice. More of a preventative measure. Keeps me going at a minimum of 60 bpm.
10. Exploratory sites for pericardial effusion (heart swelling). Long catheter needle that needed to be snaked around behind the heart to attempt drainage. They did 14 of these probes. I know because I counted the holes. Was only under sedation for this so I felt every one.
11. Actual drain site for pericardial effusion – they finally decided to try from the side and reached the site. Got over a liter of fluid out. Still the most residual discomfort of all scars.
12. Pericardial window – hole created in the pericardium to allow for slow, constant drainage as the fluid retention problem continued after the initial drainage. One of the worst post-op periods for me.
13. Blood thinner injection sites – required twice a day for several days after the pericardial window operation. Definitely one of the most difficult things I’ve ever personally done. Twice a day.
14. 2nd-degree burn site (blister) where I fell asleep on an older heating pad that had no auto shut-off. My own damn fault.
15. Two hip replacements in 18 months. First one did not go well (through the side). Second one amazed me at how fast it got better in comparison (about two months, vs the ongoing discomfort of the first one. The most prominent scars, which I don’t mind much, but am considering getting tattooed over for aesthetic reasons.
16. A couple broken teeth and implants, and several veneers. Have not played my saxophone in all this time due to fear of affecting those.