Monday, August 24, 2015

Right Heart Catheterization Procedure - Health Update

Friday morning was my Right Heart Catheterization procedure at the local University hospital. Bright and early my Mom drove me down town and we checked into the Interventional Cardiology Radiology Unit. The techs got my central line accessed so we could run some blood work prior to the procedure, and also to give me a bit of medication for my nerves! I must admit I was a tad bit nervous for this procedure as I have never had a procedure preformed involving the heart. It was my understanding that I would be under "twilight sedation" which involves the patient being able to breath on their own but also totally asleep; it turns out their version of "twilight sedation" meant totally awake with some anti-anxiety and pain medication! The doctors however assured me that the procedure would be painless, and be over very quickly. They expressed to me the risks (which includes puncturing a lung, yikes!), I signed the consent form, and then they wheeled me back into the cath lab which is much like an operating room; big bright lights, a large screen, walls of supplies, and surgical techs covered in fancy sterile gowns/masks. The first item of business we took care of before I even transferred to the operating table was what music I wanted to listen to over the loud speakers! I love when they let me choose the tunes! (I chose the Shins in case you were curious.) I laid down on the small table in the middle of the room with my head tilted to one side. The tech cleaned my neck and covered my surrounding body parts, including my face, with a sterile sheet, then it was time to begin! The doctor started by injecting a numbing medication called Lidocaine into my neck. After each shot in the neck they ask you if you can feel a poke; it took about a whole bottle and six injections but my neck was finally good an numb! The procedure official began once the doctor made the incision into my jugular vein, inserting a small sheath. This was 100% painless, I didn't even feel pressure! Once the sheath was in place they were able to slip the catheter through and pass it all the way into the heart. Once it reached my heart it gave quite a few flutters; it was a very odd feeling, but again totally painless. The catheter was then passed into the pulmonary arteries, and finally pulled back out with a short hold of my breath. My neck was patched up and I was done, the whole procedure only lasted about 20 minutes!

Headed into the procedure!

The RHC was honestly one of the least painless procedures I have ever endured! The best part was getting to watch the catheter slip in and out of my heart on the large monitor the doctor was using to guide him. I love to see my insides on the big screen! lol ;) The worst part of the whole ordeal was that I was allergic to the dressing they used to keep the gauze on my neck afterwards! I guess I should start bringing hypoallergenic dressings to my procedures and surgeries... It looks a bit like a vampire attacked my neck!
The results have been interpreted differently by a few of my different physicians. The operating doctor expressed to me that my pulmonary pressures were on the very high side of normal, while my Pulmonologist expresses that I am very normal and not high at all. I never really know what doctor to trust these days, so I guess I will just wait and see what my UCLA doctor thinks of the test next time I see him in two months. Pulmonary Hypertension is the number one cause of death among Scleroderma patients so hopefully the results are as close to normal as possible!

Thank you for all your well wishes as my impending chemotherapy draws nearer! Right now it's still in the preliminary phases with scheduling, battling insurance companies, and prior authorizations. I hope to start my first round in September, but it really just depends on how fast my insurance will approve the treatment. This week I only have two appointments to attend which is amazing! So much free time to enjoy the last week of summer, and my birthday on Friday! Both the appointments are follow ups so there wont be anything too crazy happening, I love low key weeks!


  1. Hai! I had the same thing dine last October only they had to use my femoral artery (the groin one),instead. I too was under the impression that I wouldn't be "awake" too. The meds they gave me didn't work at all, and I'm pretty resistant to numbing so I felt it all. It was pretty cool to see everything eh! I had a bit of a panic attack during the last "flutter" part because it lasted so much linger than the others and was crying. My cardiologist felt so bad!
    I too have chronic illness'. I'm 30 and just had my (hopefully) last open heart surgery in April for a new Pulmonic valve. I have Pulmonic Hypertension too. Its a bit of a blow but with the surgery it will be managed! I have fibro, chronic pain, fatigue, hypothyroidism, arthritis, IBS with bile salts diarrhea from my gallbladder removal surgery last year, as well as a couple more things on the list. It is very refreshing to find another young person who understands. Family and friends try, but often can't imagine what our lives are like. I pray for you often, if that's OK! I love your blog!!

    1. Hi! I am so glad you find your way to my blog! I just adore connecting with other young patients! I am so sorry you are battling illness as well, you sound like a wonder woman, dang girl! Keep up the good fight ;) Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers! They mean a ton to me! Big hugs! Be sure to find me on Instagram if you have one! @thetubefedwife

    2. Thanks for accepting my request in Instagram!

  2. Praying for you and hoping these doctors help you stay as well as possible. You deserve a break!