Almost there…

What a day today has been. It started innocuously enough; up before 6am for vitals and weight. Some texts and emails, moved into the chair and ate breakfast (two pancakes and a turkey sausage link). Routine enough.

The other day I had been asked to partake in a Phase 3 research study. Here’s the gist of it: during open heart surgery the blood sees a surge in iron levels. The body does not like high iron levels and can react to it. And that can delay recovery and discharge.

The researchers believe that if you expose the body to a smaller surge of iron ahead of the surgery, it will trigger the responses of the various systems and sort of “pre-arm” them. So when the real spike comes during surgery, the body is already equipped and prepared to deal with it. And that should make for a less difficult recovery.Of course I agreed! Quicker is better!! 

I had another IV put in and the infusion was started; it is a two hour treatment and it went quietly. When it was done, they removed it IV bag…and that’s when it began. 

My left hand (IV was in my left arm) began to hurt. I rubbed it, I flexed it but nothing eased it. Then it began to feel tight. I decided to go to the bathroom and while standing in there I got really woozy and lightheaded. I felt flushed too, almost sweaty, and decided I’d better go sit down fast. 

I sat there feeling quite poorly and while I hate to bother the nurses, I decided that I needed to call them so I hit the button. My left hand was getting really tight and I noticed my wedding ring was sinking into the surrounding flesh of my finger thanks to some crazy rapid swelling.

By the time the cavalry arrived my right hand was beginning to hurt. My left hand still hurt and felt tight, but was now sort of numb and tingling like it had fallen asleep. Then my right hand began to tingle. My finger was swollen that it hurt from my ring. The nurse gave me some Vaseline and urged me to get it off now while we had the chance and after a lot of tugging and struggling, it came off.

The medical team was frantically trying to figure out what was going on and every one of us was now certain it wasn’t just a coincidence that all this was happening at the same time as the treatment. At times like this there can be two explanations: that the treatment caused it or that it was really bad timing for my body to do something it had never done before. Causal versus correlation. This was clearly causal.

Next my ankles began to feel tight and my feet began to tingle. They also got somewhat red. But as issue with the feet was still growing, my hands began to feel better.

Around this time the research doctor who ran the study had gotten ahold of someone at the next higher level in the program, and he came back with information that this does sometimes happen – rare but it happens. And it is short lived and typically no residual effects. Phew….wish we had that info BEFORE it happened so we wouldn’t all freak out!

That was a little after 11am today (Tuesday) and it is now getting close to 9pm. My son has been here from Maine to visit, and my wife and daughter drove up this evening (a day earlier than planned) so they could see me before surgery since they probably won’t have that chance in the morning.

An odd issue arose during all this chaos and has persisted through to even now. My blood pressure shot way up, and I mean way up, and my pulse rate is extremely high and reactive to almost any movement. 

My pulse is normally 45 to 55; on a decent hike I can expect mid 90’s to 100 for most of it, getting up to 110 or 115. I rarely hit 120; it took us quite a while on the treadmill at the stress test to hit 120 and even more to hit the target 129. Right now, sitting here in silence, doing nothing, it is 95. If I get up to go to the bathroom it may hit 130. Absolutely bizarre. I am a nitroglycerin IV and that is bringing the BP down but the heart rate is still drastically wrong.

I am trying hard to relax, but I feel the stress and anxiety in me. The infusion reaction really began to panic me; then on top of that is the stress of seeing the worry in my kid’s faces as well as my wife’s. And THAT is stressing me out. And let’s see…what else….hhmmm… oh yeah – open heart surgery tomorrow morning! So yeah – a little freaked out here. 

 Big day tomorrow! Stay well dear reader and please feel free to cast some good thoughts to me!

Leave a Reply