Well, after being completely paralyzed knowing I had to have heart surgery but not knowing when or who the Dr was (ok, I knew his name but nothing else – didn’t have a face or personality to attach to it) and waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone to ring, the phone did not ring. Instead I received a letter in the mail telling me that I had an appointment on March 7 at 1:00, directions to the hospital and a paper I was to complete indicating which medications i was currently on and how often i was taking them.
This only ramped up the anxiety. the letter I received did not say ‘we care a lot about what’s happening with you right now and we are really looking forward to meeting you and helping you on your Heart health Journey. No. it just said ‘here’s the appointment, here’s where to park, bring this info. see you then. Oddly this made my anxiety blossom into a full flower of panic. I didn’t know these people. i didn’t know the doctor – what if they hated me? what if they looked at me and said ‘oh no, you are too fat for heart surgery!”
I could barely sleep the night of the appointment. I saw the clock every hour – watching, worrying and waiting. It was pretty awful. When i got up that next morning I made a list of things I had to do and the time that I would have to start each thing and when I’d need to have each thing completed so I would know if I was getting behind. The list looked like this: 9:00 eat breakfast. 9:30 take meds 9:45 shower 10:00 put on make up 10:20 make sure all paperwork is in purse, gather keys and iPhone and make sure they are with purse. 10:00 to 11:00 relax with a cup of herbal tea. 11:00 dress. 11:15 when don gets home get in car and go.
My husband was leaving work early to drive me to the Dr’s appointment. Initially I could not understand why he wouldn’t take the day off and spend the morning home with me… then I remembered who I am. when I am anxious, it is far far better that I be left alone to focus on my anxiety and god help the person who ‘interferes’. now this interfering can be simply moving about the house and talking – when I’m anxious this is almost more than I can bear. So knowing me as he does and loving me as he does he knew that staying as far away from me as possible until it was time to leave was the best way to help me not have a full blown melt down.
we drove in to the city – the drive was uneventful – and pulled into the parking garage. we had plenty of time but my anxiety when up with each level that did no have a parking space for us. finally, practically on the roof, we found a spot, parked and entered the hospital. one of the problems my condition brings with it is shortness of breath and when combined with my anxiety that afternoon i was not in good shape. we managed to keep moving and get me to the appointment, but i all but collapsed into the chair by the time we got there. within seconds of making ourselves known to the receptionist, the nurse called my name and my husband and i entered the clinic. The nurse performed the usual weight, height, blood pressure routine and then escorted us into the surgeons office. up until this point everything had been pretty, well, clinical. not too many smiles or cheery faces. then entered Dr Maitland. he was lovely! he was slightly older than i was, was affable, had a British accent and immediately changed my whole day. he asked me some questions about my general health and wellness then proceeded to tell my husband and i what he would be doing to my heart. without being scary or intimidating in any way he told us he would be shaving away bits of my heart tissue which would enlarge the heart chamber and allow blood to flow through more easily. this, we were all hoping, would be the thing that makes my life better. he let us ask many questions, he told us exactly what % of patients get through this surgery without any complications (98% -yay!) and how in that remaining 2% there were 7 other things that could go wrong – including death. death is of course the one we want to avoid at all costs. in any event, we finished up with both my husband and i feeling way, way better. the last thing that Dr Maitland said to me was “the next time i see you i’ll be in my pajamas!’. i hope he is as cheerful and positive on surgery day as he was in the office. i feel about 100% better now 🙂
Categories: heart surgery