So there I was, the next morning, in Frankston hospital with a bunch of cardiologists, doctors and nurses checking out the records from my heart monitor and discussing what to do. After an X-ray, a series of ECGs and an Eco with the ultrasound it looked like I would need a pacemaker, which would be implanted the middle of the following week. The cardiology ward was only a few weeks new and I was in a very swish room for two with private en-suite. Time in hospital is governed by doctors rounds, meals and visitors along with a lot of time in-between to read, watch TV, sleep or chat with other patients. Certainly having visitors and phone calls helped. Being permanently attached to a heart monitor, even one of the portable types didn’t.
But another, but different ‘incident’ on the Sunday night, which caused many attentive nurses to come running, saw me stay for longer, as a I underwent a series of tests and an angiogram. The angiogram I wasn’t expecting and when I was told, with short notice, I was certainly nervous. However once in the operating theatre the surgeon and anaesthetist reassured me and after ‘a bit of something to take the edge away’ I was none the wiser for about an hour or so and found myself in the recovery room, job done. As my arteries were deemed to be in excellent condition it seemed that the extra incident was possibly not going to be repeated.
However discussion with the cardiology team at the Alfred Hospital resulted in a decision to transfer me there for two more procedures to ensure the right device was inserted. However getting a bed at the Alfred saw me staying at Frankston for quite some time, twelve days in fact. Even with excellent nurses and keen cardiologists and a succession of six other ward companions I was certainly over it when I was transferred on Monday 31st March up to the Alfred in the early evening.
Again I experienced thoroughly professional treatment from my two assigned paramedics. On arrival at the Alfred I was admitted via the Emergency Department. Monitors were attached, a drip too, blood tests followed and after a couple of hours I was on a bed being taken up to the cardiology ward. By now it was about 21:30 so I was appreciative of some sandwiches and a drink. The ward of four beds was eerily quiet at first but being tired from the evening’s adventure I was soon asleep. Next morning I realised it was just as noisy as Frankston and more doctors and nurses seemed to be on deck. I was taken for my cardiac MRI late in the morning. Normally you go in head first but for an MRI of the heart you go in feet first. After about fifteen minutes I wasn’t enjoying the experience. The easy bit was following the instructions of when to breathe in and out and hold your breath. What with the noise, the confined space, the head mask I had agreed to and a tight strap around my chest it wasn’t fun. So after ‘something to take the edge off’ was administered through my drip line I was back in and able to finish. Lunch was very welcome. It became apparent after all my time in cardiology wards in two hospitals that my case was probably on the lower end of seriousness. Certainly people’s lifestyles contribute to their situations. Sadly when there’s an emergency in the bed next door, as did happen a couple of times, it becomes a combination of noisy, scary and sleep depriving.
The following day I was fasting for my procedure, which sadly ended up being in the afternoon. It was an EP (electro physicality) study in which a very thin catheter type device is inserted in your groin through a vein (rather than an artery for an angiogram) and threaded up to your heart. I was partly awake but well enough sedated. Probably a good thing as firstly they attached a cold pad to my back and then splashed cold betadine around my groin. Then the procedure started. The aim was to try and simulate heart rhythms like my second ‘incident’ and then if that occurred to try and scar the tissue in the electrical part of my heart to prevent those rhythms. However it was only a slim chance to do that. As it turned out the test came back negative. The cardiologists were happy enough with that as they felt it was probably not something which my heart would do very often. So the next step was for me to have the pacemaker procedure done. Sadly the procedure list was long and it would be some time before I would be done. After much discussion it was agreed I could be discharged for the Easter break plus a few more days and come back on the 13th of April for the the pacemaker procedure.
Karen came and collected me and I had a restful time at home with family over Easter and the next few days. A trip to the football was a bit of a bonus and a happy time with our team Melbourne Demons winning. It should have been no surpirse that after fifteen days in hospital I was out of condition but in fact I was a bit surpised. Certainly after my pacemaker went in I would have to work on my fitness again.